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    5 Ways Inbound Sales Teams Can Innovate the Customer Experience


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    Every time inbound sales representatives contact a lead, they have an opportunity to significantly impact the overall customer experience, and to build the foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship between buyer and supplier.

    Related: 3 Ways to Create Customer Experiences That Boost Sales

    Although the customer will form an initial first impression of the company through its branding and marketing materials, tthat first contact with an inbound sales professional is likely the first time he or she will interact personally with a representative from the organization.

    And, in a world where 70 percent of B2B buying choices are based on how the customer perceives he or she is being treated, it's crucial that inbound sales teams take ownership of the customer experience early in the relationship. Here are some tips for doing that:

    Implement a customer-centric vision for your department.

    Committing to delivering an outstanding customer experience throughout all phases of the sales process starts at the top. Without a customer-experience strategy, developed by the company's sales leaders, employees across all levels of the organizational chart will find it difficult to execute a consistent vision.

    Empowering your sales team members to "wow" their clients time and time again requires putting a structure in place where they both understand the importance of the initiative to the company, and feel trusted to make important decisions that will shape the experience.

    The customer experience flourishes when relationships between salespeople and their prospects are strong; So, part of implementing this structure involves encouraging inbound sales reps to use all available information gathered from the marketing process; that helps them build a solid foundation with a customer.

    Additionally, when sales leaders incorporate customer experience metrics into their team's performance analysis, that move fortifies the idea that delivering on this promise is paramount for the inbound sales team.

    Collaborate with marketing to better understand the customer's journey.

    It's a fact that the customer experience has already begun in earnest before an inbound sales rep ever makes contact with a lead. Some inbound sales teams, however, may view this reality as an excuse, claiming they can't be held responsible for aspects of the journey that they can't control.

    This is part of what leads to sales and marketing alignment issues at so many companies: Sales teams complain that marketers are inhibiting their ability to make a deep connection with prospects, while marketers claim their work is being squandered by salespeople down the line.

    However, successful inbound sales teams see this division of duties as an opportunity to work with the marketing department, to communicate unified messaging that will add defined value to the buyer's journey at each stage of the funnel.

    Specialize your reps' sales roles, if possible.

    Inbound sales teams simply have to make a certain number of engagements if they hope to hit their numbers, and that requires spending time responding to inquires, and researching prospect information.

    Since time is finite, these activities naturally prohibit them from using that same time period to nurture the customer experience for others who are already further along in the sales funnel.

    One solution is to designate certain members of your inbound sales team as "customer-experience" specialists. These reps won't be tasked with handling typical inbound inquires, which will free them to focus on anticipating customers' needs as they move through the process. If you are a small organization and you need all the inbound sales manpower you currently have, consider making your next sales hire one of these dedicated customer experience reps.

    Simplify the process for your sales reps.

    If you expect your sales professionals to routinely think outside the box to create an outstanding experience for your buyers, you need to make that goal as easy as possible to achieve. A great customer experience isn't the same thing as a complicated one, and pushing for simplicity will actually help your team members demonstrate their value in a more straightforward manner.

    Train your reps to think about every client interaction as an opportunity to improve the customer experience. If the buyer needs something that isn't urgent, take care of it immediately so the task receives ithe requisite attention. Have information on hand before the client even asks for it. In terms of the customer experience, even small interactions add up to something very important.

    View your existing buyers as your most important partners.

    Sometimes, the life of an inbound sales professional seems to revolve around the pursuit of the next great lead. It's the nature of the business, but cultivating great relationships with your previous buyers is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a customer experience that will be the envy of your competitors.

    It's also vital to the future of your company because reducing customer churn by as little and 5 percent can lead to increased profits of up to 95 percent.

    Related: 4 Steps to Ensuring Customer Experience Comes First

    Keep engaging with your existing customers by sharing content and monitoring their performance with your product. Always stay one step ahead of their needs, especially when their contract nears the renewal period. This is when you can go above and beyond for them by anticipating any new questions they might have, and getting the logistics squared away to streamline the process.

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