Go-to-Market 2025 Forecast: Two Disciplines to Separate Winners from Also-Rans in Next 5 Years

Entering a new decade always accelerates senior leadership re-evaluation of existing strategies. That’s a good thing – it’s not about abandoning current investments but rather staying ahead of the curve. The 2010s will be remembered as the decade that launched “digital transformation” – and the process of becoming more digital will continue into the 2020s.

But many digital transformation efforts are already falling into the “technology panacea” trap – companies buying more technology, building more web apps, and burying themselves in more data analytics to improve financial performance. Yes, digital content, big data, machine learning, AI are all interesting and powerful tools, but they must be applied to solve specific customer and business challenges and impact performance.

Driven by digital transformation, the 2020s will be known for massive behavioral change in both buyers and sellers. This is already apparent across every industry where venture-backed digital disruptors are growing rapidly – they are driving go-to-market and customer behavior change. Yet, many disruptors have not quite reached the “tipping point” of noticeable market share and profitability.

Trust me, they will in the next 24-36 months.

To measure, track, and keep pace with accelerating digital buying and selling changes, leading companies are increasingly focused on two disciplines that can ensure digital transformation translates into performance results… and competitive survival!

  1. Customer Experience (CX) Management

  2. Multi-Channel Sales Enablement (SE)

Together, these disciplines are two sides of the same coin. CX focuses on measuring, managing, and improving buyer satisfaction throughout the customer lifecycle. Likewise, SE focuses on improving seller productivity across the customer lifecycle.

The Strategic Imperative for CX Management

Let’s begin with a simple fact that greater than 70% of the customer experience lifecycle will happen in a digital environment. This is not merely perusing your company website; the full digital scope includes a variety of customer touchpoints from marketing responses, to order configuration, to payment, to customer success.

More importantly, CX can no longer be measured through single aging metrics like “Customer Satisfaction Scores” or even “Net Promoter Scores.” Rather, each functional area of a business can and should have its own CX metric.

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5 Truths to Customer Experience Management:

  1. CX can be measured across the customer life cycle (see table below)
  2. CX performance can be tracked over time
  3. CX metrics can be benchmarked vs. peers (internal and external)
  4. CX best practices can be identified and implemented
  5. CX metrics can be baked into performance compensation incentives

The point is simple: CX can’t just be limited to high-level metrics like Sat scores and NPS as functional operating teams can’t impact that metric.  Rather, entire organizations are beginning to have CX metrics within each function and across the customer life cycle.

Consider the following example of a B2B vendor designing a new CX program that directly involves all employees in all functions:

Example: Firmwide CX Management System


No firm should try to adopt all the metrics! But if the senior leadership team believes in driving top-tier customer experience across the lifecycle, each business function should have 1-2 key CX metrics that it can measure and operationally impact.

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The Strategic Imperative of Sales Enablement

If CX can be measured across the customer lifecycle, so too must Sales Enablement (SE). Again, SE is just the flip side of the same coin – CX focuses on buyer experience, SE focuses on sales channel productivity.

With greater than 70% of customer engagements occurring online without human interaction, limiting Sales Enablement to just “training sales reps” (the traditional view) will cause companies to fall behind quickly.

Channels are becoming increasingly complex, and vendor control of the buying process is diminishing. For one, buyers demand and use multiple channels, sometime in the same purchase transaction (sales reps, channel partner, industry analysts, websites, etc.), and will view online content as the 1st stop in their buying process. As a result, buyers “arrive” at a sales interaction much more educated than in the past – they know their specific needs and technical specifications often better than traditional sales reps. Sales reps need information beyond a “standard script” to customize their message for every buyer. Customer intelligence data can provide deeper buyer insight and allow them to respond with the right message, content, and offer at the right time.

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Increasingly SE will be redefined to connect customer intelligence with personalized content. In doing this, sales teams can and need not only to be present on online channels and but use the intelligence at their fingertips to better cater their messages.

Consider the case of a B2B company in the SMB/Consumer technology space.  The leadership team realized a critical challenge. Silo’ed sales enablement investments in each channel resulted in duplicative spending and a completely inconsistent customer experience. The ultimate solution was to lay out a more comprehensive, multichannel sales enablement strategy and an execution plan that delivered customer analytics (who, what where info), content, and “frictionless” purchase processes across all customer touchpoints.

To start, the SE team mapped out what type of SE assets were needed in each channel. This boosted opportunity conversion rates and lead to greater sales. A simple matrix might look like this:

Sales Enablement Asset Matrix

 

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Summary

Customer acceleration toward more online channel engagement requires leadership teams to go beyond high-level concepts of “digital transformation” and the traditional definitions of CX and SE. Industry winners will outpace also-rans over the next 5 years by taking a more operational and disciplined approach to CX and SE across all channels.

In the past few months, we’ve just begun to dive into what those industry winners are doing to win at CX (even more on SE to come!). Read our latest report, “Building A Customer Experience Driven Culture for Revenue Success,” detailing four mandates to building the most effective CX oriented organization based on an analysis of real customer conversations, breaking news, and more from across the web.