There is no ecosystem more impacted than smart manufacturing plants, where long equipment lifecycles and extended vendor contracts rule the day.
Think about your current sales dynamics. The first sale is focused on winning new customers. Those efforts, processes, tools and metrics engulf the activities of sales teams.
Now consider what happens to your newly-won customers after that contract is executed, comes in house and then what?
Typically the care and feeding of new and existing clients is left up to everyone in your organization who was not actively engaged in working with the decision makers involved in the Buyer’s Journey.
Customer retention, and the second sale, is solidly in the hands of this unofficial second sales team.
The second sale involves more than upselling and cross-selling. Within the smart plant, here are 5 areas to focus on.
- The industrial IoT connects everyone to everyone else. How does your “first” sales team remain connected to the second sales team after the contract is executed? Does your first sales team even remain connected to that second team? Why not?
- Capital equipment manufacturers are not exempt from participating in this conversation, just because their equipment can have lifecycles of anywhere from 5 – 15+ years. During the lifecycle of that equipment, consider how many workforce hires and upgrades to software impact equipment value. Equipment can be repurposed due to changing business strategy and marketplace new product demand. How can your sales organization stay abreast of these changes if the first sales team doesn’t continuously communicate with the second sales team?
- Business leaders I’ve spoken with all speak about sticking close to their customers. How well does your first sales team stick close to customers? Are they reliant on digital customer experience (CX) surveys, sent out periodically to buyers and decision makers from the initial sale? How representative are these people, post-sale? Are you only collecting data that gives you half of the Big Picture?
- The second sale teams are the folks who really stick close to the real customers: the end users and operators of your products, services and equipment. Your customer retention team, that second sale team, truly understands the voice of end user experience. Why continue to marginalize or ignore both your second sale team as well as these valuable end users?
- When you hybridize customer retention efforts and include both first and second sale teams, you uncover insights critical to executing outstanding business outcomes. To expand the breadth and depth of insights, consider moving away from periodic, and typically transactional CX surveys. All these surveys do is capture and measure “So how did we do?” Why measure CX like a hotel, theme park or airline if your business does not operate in those industry verticals?
The focus on the second sale and customer retention is cross-functional collaboration.
Flatten out the hierarchy of your organization. Get your first sales teams working with your second sale teams. The object of this exercise? To become a go-to resource for your clients and top-of-mind when it is time to cross-sell, upsell, refer and yes, retain you as a vendor, supplier and partner.
Otherwise, your organization simply is a spectator waiting for yet another buying signal to rush in and sell. You fulfill a transactional role in the eyes of your clients.
My goal for you is to emerge as a proactive resource for clients. Why? Because your first and second sale teams are continuously capturing real-time insights about the current and future needs within each client’s IoT smart manufacturing ecosystem.
Where do you fit into this scenario? Has this post made you think about customer retention differently? How are you planning on renovating your customer retention strategy?
Read Babette Ten Haken’s book of cross-functional collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business?
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Babette Ten Haken writes, speaks and coaches about customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical teams. She serves manufacturing, IT and engineering intensive companies. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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