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What do Prospective Customers and Current Customers have in Common?

In Primary Intelligence’s annual State of Customer Experience research, we examined what companies are doing when reaching out to customers and making changes to their organizations based on customer feedback.

In reflecting upon the results of our State of Customer Experience research, I couldn’t help but notice similarities with earlier research we’d done on Understanding Buyer Needs. Our research on Understanding Buyer Needs was focused on sales intelligence and, specifically, on understanding how buyers rate sales teams in competitive evaluations.

Both research projects—the Customer Experience research and the Buyer Needs research—highlight the importance of understanding the needs of buyers, whether they’re current customers or prospective customers:

Prospective Customers vs. Current Customers

  • In our Customer Experience research, 86 percent of respondents said that gaining an improved understanding of customer needs was the most important benefit they received from their Customer Experience program, beating out 11 other categories, including “Improved Customer Service and Support” and “Improved Responsiveness.”
  • In our Understanding Buyer Needs research, we found that sellers’ ability to demonstrate an understanding of buyer needs trumps all other categories buyers use to judge sales team effectiveness, including “Product Knowledge” and “Professionalism.”

In this way, we can see that understanding the needs of customers and buyers is a universal desire. Sales Teams and Account Managers who take the time to understand the needs of their audiences—whether they’re prospects or current customers—will reap the rewards of new and renewing contracts.

How to Hear the Voice of Your Buyers

Given these findings, what can you do to ensure you’re hearing the voice of your buyers?

1. Whether a current customer or a prospective customer, listen hard when buyers describe their needs.

  • Ask follow up questions to ensure buyers’ pain points are heard.
  • Probe for specificity so you can match the appropriate solution to buyers’ needs.
  • Summarize the meeting, both verbally and in writing, to ensure everyone remains on the same page.

2. Customize your approach to ensure that new and existing buyers know you’ve heard their specific needs and can deliver solutions to accommodate those needs.

  • Look for reasonable solution modifications to meet specific buyer needs, such as putting buyers in touch with knowledgeable partners or consultants.
  • Consider pricing, delivery, or implementation changes that may be different, but better—and ultimately net your firm increased sales.
  • Adopt the mindset of “Let me ask!” rather than, “No, we don’t do that here.”

Man waving in field3. Partner with Marketing to ensure every touchpoint along the buyer’s journey is positive and reinforces your brand and intended message. According to Crimson Marketing, the average B2B buyer has completed between 50 and 90% of their buying journey by the time they first make contact with potential vendors.

  • Ensure there’s a cohesive, standard message that’s being communicated and delivered to customers and prospects, whether it’s on your website, in your sales collaterals, or on social media.
  • Look for opportunities where Marketing can cultivate leads or assist with cross sell and upsell opportunities, even if they’re “soft” or “warm” leads.
  • Eliminate marketing efforts that are ineffective in winning or retaining customers.

If you take these steps, you’ll be well on your way to generating a continual cycle of feedback and improvement, helping you to increase loyalty among your existing customers and winning new customers who are evaluating your solutions against competitors.

More Resources

For more information on Understanding Buyer Needs, click HERE.

For more information about Customer Experience Analysis, click HERE.

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