If you have anything to do with business IT, sales, or marketing, chances are very good that you’ve heard the term “single view of the customer.” And if you’re someone who believes staying current with the latest sales and marketing techniques and technologies, you’re probably already utilizing the single-view concept to sell more and sell more effectively.
For everyone else who is not familiar with this key marketing strategy component, it’s time to take a good, hard look at a single view of the customer (SVC) and the benefits it provides to virtually any sales and marketing program.
Simply put, SVC is an IT platform that presents a structured, seamless, comprehensive, and consistent view of customer data across an organization. SVC enables the organization to have at its fingertips a complete picture of the customer that is accessible and actionable by all appropriate employees. It means more than simply mining internal customer transaction files, and recognizes that external data needs to be fused with internal data for an accurate view of customers.
SVC is critical for enabling sellers to meet rising customer expectations. Customers expect sellers to know their preferences, order history, contact history, and all interactions with the brand. Without SVC, sellers risk making costly mistakes that negatively impact service, conversion, loyalty and sales.
Research by online sales and marketing consultancy Hubspot confirms that customer referrals are the highest trusted form of qualified lead generation. As prospects are increasingly bombarded by interruptive marketing messages, their susceptibility to traditional marketing channel messages diminishes. This means current customers need to be nurtured for two key reasons: to maximize their purchasing through upselling and to create the most satisfactory customer experience possible to gain critical referrals. Achieving these two goals depends in large part on creating and utilizing SVC across your IT ecosystem.
Unfortunately, IT infrastructures have grown more complex, big data has increased the size and scope of databases, and different corporate departments often, for various reasons, create independent data silos. The result is multiple organizational databases with no unified view of the customer and, in many cases, conflicting and inconsistent data. I don’t have to tell you what kind of negative impacts that can have on a business.
Whatever your opinion may be of Amazon, there is no denying the profound impact it has had on purchasing and the customer experience. And this holds true for both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales. No matter what your business is, customers expect you to deliver an experience that is as easy and as streamlined as Amazon.com. Amazon has raised expectations about customer service and if you do not deliver something comparable, your competitors will.
SVC is especially empowering for sales teams, who can use this framework to identify the products that a customer purchases, read the reviews they write, and explore items they are browsing. This 360-degree view enables sales and marketing professionals to create more targeted campaigns and suggest specific products or services based on a customer’s identity, preferences, previous sales history, and other relevant data. This creates a highly personal customer experience, and boosts sales and customer satisfaction. More often than not, that leads to those all-important customer referrals and even more sales. How’s that for a win-win situation?
B2B sales teams can squeeze even more benefits out of SVC, thanks to a variety of available data mining and sales prospecting tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Discover.org, Hoovers, and/or proprietary offerings from their CRM vendor. Taking a deep dive into the big data gleaned from your customer database can enable sales reps to discover who within the client’s organization are your products’ champions. Discovering who the individuals are within the company who have a positive view of what you’re selling can help your sales reps expand beyond the immediate customer and seek out related companies with whom these contacts have relationships. With a little effort, sales reps can close even more sales with existing customers and encourage sales referrals from them.
The growing importance of SVC is clear. The seamless integration of sometimes disparate customer data into a single, comprehensive view will enable you to analyze your sales as a culmination of a number of interactions between your customer and your company. Incorporating both online and offline data for the purpose of building a three-dimensional view of your customer will go a long way in helping you create high-quality, long-term, more satisfying customer relationships. And that, ultimately, will create more sales.
Jim Welch is a guest blogger about sales topics. Jim is a top-producing sales executive in the Customer Experience (think CRM) at Oracle with more than 20 years of experience maximizing sales opportunities within highly competitive markets. Jim has a proven record as both a team player and team leader. His experience spans large corporate and “start-up” organizations selling to commercial, state, local government and education clients.
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