Customer-centric sales

How to create a customer-centric sales and marketing organization

Lucid Content Team

Reading time: about 5 min


  • Sales
  • Business

As Gabe kicked off our live webinar with Tiffani Bova, she took note of his signature backwards ball cap and whipped out her Salesforce swag. Pulling her own cap on (backwards, of course), she declared herself ready to get started.


What does it take to master the customer experience? Apparently a baseball cap…

But in all seriousness, Tiffani Bova is the Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, and she’s a fountain of knowledge when it comes to customer success. We were lucky enough to pick her brain for a half hour to get a better idea of what it takes to create a customer-centric sales and marketing organization.

What is the customer experience?

Recognizing how easy it is to get hung up on buzzwords when discussing the customer experience, Tiffani offered a simple definition: the customer experience is the way a product makes us feel. She then outlined three ideas she thinks about regarding this experience:

  1. The experience is becoming the product. That’s why people stand on a street corner with the Uber app open and let three taxis drive right by.
  2. People are willing to spend more money for that experience because they know what they are going to get and crave the consistency.
  3. People remember the experience they have with a brand much longer than they remember the price or even the brand itself. For example, how many times have you eaten at an amazing restaurant and remembered every detail of the meal but forgotten what the restaurant itself was called?

Who owns the customer experience?

According to Tiffani, we’re asking the wrong question here. No one person can own the customer experience. Rather, it should be part of the DNA of a company. Every decision, from how checks are sent to how returns work, has an impact on the customer experience. Every employee should believe they own it.

While the concept of customer experience needs to be owned company-wide, metrics should be owned by a specific individual to ensure accountability. Tiffani offered a few recommendations on which metrics keep a pulse on the customer experience:

  • NPS (Net Promoter Score): How do you stack up against the industry?
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Scores): Are they going up or down?
  • Churn rate: Is this declining like you want it to be?

How do you balance the offline and online customer experience?

According to Tiffani, “customer experience is the sum of all your brand’s touchpoints.” That’s why it’s crucial that your offline and online activities be in complete sync. It’s the intersection between the two that makes the difference for the collective customer experience.

The data gathered from online events needs to be mirrored in the offline activities. If you have two completely separate groups owning online and offline, you risk disconnect that results in poor customer experience, such as sending letters designed for prospective customers to loyal existing customers.

What can sales do to create those “remarkable moments” for customers?

According to Tiffani, sales management holds the key. Individual sales reps know what is best for the customer. They have built relationships and know when the deal really is better closed next quarter. However, a conflict of interest arises when reps are strictly held to the productivity metrics that demand the close now.

Sales management needs to enable reps to put the customers first by combining customer satisfication and productivity metrics. Those productivity metrics might need to be loosened a bit, realizing that the customer metrics will pay off in the end.

What are some tools for sales productivity?

Obviously it didn’t take Tiffani long to come up with a productivity tool. In her opinion, what’s important in a tool is the automation it provides. Tools should allow sales reps to streamline and automate their mundane tasks. That’s where a CRM such as Salesforce comes in.

Tools also need to give reps the ability to be productive when they’re not at their desks. They should have the same power in the palm of their hands as they have sitting at a computer. That’s where tools such as Salesforce1 or Alexa come into play.

Finally, there is the artificial intelligence that makes reps smarter than they were five years ago. In Tiffani’s opinion, there are huge opportunities for improving and personalizing the customer experience by taking advantage of artificial intelligence. Machine learning enables reps to learn more about the customer and predict what they want next, and that’s where productivity can really multiply and amplify.

How does marketing fit into the customer experience?

Again, we were asking the wrong question. It’s not just sales and marketing involved in the experience—it’s a three-legged stool made up of sales, marketing, and customer service. A customer service rep may be the only person the customer actually sees throughout their entire experience.

The key to aligning these three is aligning metrics. Tiffani recommends throwing a marketer and a salesperson in the same room and asking them to define a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead. If they don’t agree, you’ve got work to do. Because until you agree, the conflicts continue.

Then bring customer service into the room—you need to make sure you are selling the same thing. Sales can’t be selling the moon while service is selling the stars.

As you work through this process, rotating roles can be very enlightening. Have sales and marketing sit on a service call. Have marketing sit in on a sales call. Have sales sit it on a marketing planning meeting. Once you have all three in sync, it can, according to Tiffani, be magical for the customer.

What has changed the sales industry the most over the past five years, and how will it change in the future?

The most disruptive thing has not been the technology but the customer. Customer expectations are so much higher. They want real-time and immediate results. This higher level of demand is challenging organizations, and especially sales reps, to be more responsive.

Moving forward, Tiffani believes that new technology, such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality, hold unlimited potential for improving the experience.

What do you do to align sales, marketing, and customer service to ensure the optimal experience? Let us know in the comments!

Be sure to watch the full webinar on demand and stay tuned for future ones!

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