Digital transformation has played a key role in business resiliency. So, it’s no surprise that technology investment decisions have been elevated to the CEO, CFO and CIO. With greater numbers of decision-makers now prioritizing post-sales support when making purchases, vendors must deliver on an outcome and invest in their customers’ success — or risk getting left behind. The vendor landscape has evolved to one of true partnership and co-innovation with their customers.
For marketers trying to meet customers’ ever-evolving needs, post-sales support is now non-negotiable. As LinkedIn’s annual report on B2B technology purchasing confirms, marketers should seize this opportunity to inform, drive and optimize programs that unlock benefits for existing customers.
Buyers Are Investing in an Outcome, Not a Product
Today’s buyers are thinking much further than the initial spend. In fact, 57% of all B2B technology buyers we surveyed said that post-sales support (such as enablement and integration) was a major consideration when selecting a vendor.
Understanding your buyers’ unique set of needs and desired outcomes has always been a critical purchase driver to know from the start — but particularly when it comes to post-sales service. Without this information, marketers are unable to gauge the level of support a customer expects or how to invest in helping them reach their goals.
An impressive track record of delivering post-sales support could also help you retain customers for a longer period. Buyers weigh up past experiences with a solution when making a purchasing (or renewal) decision. Almost half of all technology buyers told us they take into account their history with a particular product when choosing a vendor.
The solution? Map out a plan for your customer’s successful implementation and adoption before a purchase. Sales, Customer Success, and Marketing must be in lock-step with each other and with the customer on the expectations for after the solution is implemented. With that context in place, marketers are able to pinpoint when and how to assist in delivering on that promise.
Where to start? Find out where existing customers feel you fall short and then take corrective action to revert that sentiment. By doing so, marketers can build stronger relationships that ultimately generate more business opportunities for sales.
Investing in Customer Experience Is Crucial to Reducing Time-to-Value
It’s not just the budget that is under increasing scrutiny; adoption timeframes for new technology purchases are also more closely monitored than ever before. After all, technology implementation and renewals at enterprise companies can take nearly a year once a new technology is onboarded.
Clearly, there are opportunities for vendors to close post-sale gaps. For marketers, this means not only using post-sale support in their positioning, but also showcasing how this support can reduce time-to-value.
Focusing on Retention Can Lead to More Business Opportunities
Forrester’s Annual 2020 Customer Experience Index revealed that “27% of brands improved their Customer Experience (CX) Index scores over the past year, a significant jump compared to previous years marked by minimal gains.” Forrester’s findings signal that an optimum CX has become table stakes in the post-pandemic era, and brands are rising to the occasion.
“To emerge successfully from this global crisis, brands must build experiences that help them engage with their customers at an emotional level,” said Sharyn Leaver, SVP of Research at Forrester. “Brands can build a well of CX equity if they embrace a disciplined approach to envisioning, designing, and delivering a consistently high-quality experience. When consumer spending resumes, brands with experiences that engender customer loyalty will benefit the most.”
Forrester’s report continues on: “Even a minor improvement to a brand’s customer experience quality can add tens of millions of dollars of revenue by reducing customer churn and increasing share of wallet. Additionally, superior CX leads to reduced service costs and lowers the cost of customer acquisition through word of mouth.”
How Atlassian Invests in Post-Sale Customer Communities
Delivering on an outcome rather than a product is core to Atlassian’s go-to-market strategy. “At Atlassian, we have a best-in-class ecosystem of post-sales support – from our Technical Account Managers, to our customer support team, to our global channel partner network. But it’s our community that truly sets us apart. It’s our (not so secret) special sauce,” said Leslie Lee, Head of Brand and Customer Engagement.
She described their CX approach, and the strong feedback loop they’ve established with Product: “Post-sale, customers can join onboarding groups and learn from each other in our online community. Customers have direct access to product teams— through AMAs, community events, and feedback groups— to share their experiences and influence our roadmaps. But we also know that unleashing the potential of teams means supporting our customers with how they work together. And they find this in our community too, by joining millions of others who are all learning new practices and new ways of working,” Lee said.
The underlying principle that Atlassian is demonstrating so well is that the customer journey extends far beyond the point of sale or even implementation. Establishing a community of fellow end users strengthens a customer’s individual experience of the product. As covered in our last post, creating raving fans (and a place for them to connect) has never been more important than in today’s review economy.
Post-Sales Support Is No Longer a ‘Nice to Have’ but a Necessity
The bottom line is this: To seize the post-sales frontier, marketers must work in tandem with sales, product, customer experience and other customer-facing functions to increase customer value and boost retention rates.
Marketing must create a stronger feedback loop than ever before with customer success managers. Real-time input on customer engagement can influence your marketing strategy, influence your product roadmap, and lead to customer case studies that build social proof, which we know is the No.1 driver of trust in a new offering.
And in return, marketing can offer a wealth of insight to Account Executives and Customer Success Managers: a 360-degree view of customer participation in webinars, events, promotions, and campaigns (particularly those that increase the visibility of a new offering). This information can help sales teams craft and tailor their upsell and cross-sell efforts based on which topics and products their customers are most interested in.
This virtuous cycle continues to build on itself when you consider resources like cheat sheets, getting-started guides, FAQs, etc. that provide access to customer questions without them ever needing to reach out to customer support.
If the events of 2020 have taught B2B marketers anything, it’s the importance of prioritizing existing customers by adding value. Post-sales support is a crucial differentiator in today’s increasingly competitive market – so make sure you stand out from the crowd and unlock the all-important value that will ensure customers come back for more.
To learn more about how technology marketers can succeed in the Age of Agility, read our latest report here and subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.