The overwhelming majority of companies think they are Customer – Centric. According to a Capgemini study, their customers strongly disagree. What is “Customer Centricity”? How does it contribute to global business performance? Can Sales Enablement support the transition from a product-oriented model to an empathetic, customer-driven paradigm? Here’s how it works…
A brief history of Customer – Centricity
Customer Centricity is a mindset or paradigm that bases decision-making on the expected impact on customers. A Customer Centric company displays empathy and data analysis as collective competencies, across the entire value chain, to do everything possible to remove customer pain points and make the buying and post-buying journey outstanding.
Contrary to popular belief, Customer Centricity is not a new concept. Peter Drucker, a famous management science theorist, said as early as 1954 that ” the customer determines what a company is, what it produces and whether it will prosper ” at a time when production capacity was the main source of success.
Customer Centricity is part of the classic history of marketing:
- Period 1, 1950 – 1965: the supplier is king;
- Period 2, 1965 – 1975: the commercial conquistador era;
- Period 3, 1975 – 1990: the “product as hero”, or the rise of product marketing;
- Period 4, 1990 – 2000: customer-oriented companies, “customer is king”;
- Period 5, since 2000: the customer as a stakeholder in the company, as illustrated by the empty chair representing “the customer” in Amazon’s meetings.
Customer Centricity’s discordant figures
“We put the customer at the center of everything we do. This maxim is undoubtedly one of the top ten most commonly used statements in the business world. In the era of the knowledgeable, informed and social buyer, one might think that B2B has successfully shifted from a product focus to a customer-oriented perspective.
Capgemini strongly disagrees. The French digital services giant says that while 75% of companies think they are Customer-Centric, only 30% of customers would agree. According to Ardath Albee, author of Digital Relevance and CO of Marketing Interactions, there is a bias in understanding the core of Customer Centricity. This misunderstanding impacts both customer knowledge and the sales and marketing pitch:
- Common bias: “We study the behavior and the preferences of customers to maximize revenue and profits“. This conception can be described as “transactional”, as empathy efforts are simply aimed at triggering the purchase without any long-term vision, Customer Success Management, etc.
- Customer – Centricity: “We do everything to put ourselves in the position of customers to better understand their needs and provide them with whatever they may require, to improve their daily lives and promote a solid and lasting relationship“. In short, empathy works from a relational rather than a transactional perspective.
Another divisive figure comes from a report titled “Roadblocks to Delivering a Competitive Buying Experience”. The study found that only one-third of sales and marketing teams are happy with the quality of the buying experience they deliver to customers and prospects. Despite this mixed performance, the quality of the buying experience is only their seventh priority (out of eight) according to the same study.
Their priorities are, in that order, identifying the content that best resonates with the target (1), consistency of branding efforts (2) and clarity of the value proposition (3). What do these three concerns have in common? They are Company – Centric:
- Marketing creates content based on intuition, then publishes it and observes how it performs. Content marketing is not streamlined by customer insight data according to the study.
- The consistency of branding communication is assessed from the point of view of marketers and decision-makers rather than customers and prospects;
- The clarity of the value proposition is also assessed from the perception of the company’s stakeholders.
Actually, marketers and sales people seem to be working backwards, against the grain. Ideas, knowledge and content are born in the heart of the company to be distributed to the audience, whereas the Customer Centric approach requires the impulse to come from the outside, to be shaped, analyzed, digested and activated in-house to produce ideas, knowledge and relevant content.
Sales Enablement, a (big) step towards Customer Centricity
In a B2B configuration, Salespeople are a great source of first-hand data about prospects’ expectations, preferences, needs, fears, aspirations and even verbatim… but we still need to tackle the rebellious issue of alignment in order to :
- Ensure a fluid, intelligible and systematic transmission of knowledge from Sales to Marketing;
- Ensure that this flow actually feeds content marketing efforts;
- Continue to collect Customer Data post-sale, especially through Customer Success Management.
Faced with the challenge of alignment, the most “mature” B2B marketers are choosing Sales Enablement as their top priority in 2022, according to a Gatepoint Research study. Sales Enablement ticks all the boxes to help companies successfully transition to Customer Centricity and beyond:
- Sales and Marketing alignment, followed by the alignment between People, Process and Technology;
- Empower the workforce through streamlined coaching and training efforts;
- Seize the potential of collective intelligence;
- Smooth out the various processes to reduce costs and maximize profitability: save time on content research, relieve salespeople of tasks that are not directly related to sales, strengthen collaboration between sales and marketing, etc.
Touch & Sell introduced the concept of Sales Enablement in France in 2012 and is now the French leader in Growth Enablement. On average, our clients have halved their onboarding time and increased their sales by 20% within the first six months. We are dedicated to bringing People to the heart of business and transforming your employees into growth champions!