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Through the Looking Glass of Strategic Customer Insights

by Alan Ho, Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific, TIBCO Software

[As published on TIBCO Blog – 1 August 2017]

At the core of any organization lies a mission to drive customer centricity. Where does the “core” sit in your organization? There is urgency today for organizations to be agile and respond quickly to customer needs. However, the “need for speed” can also be the bugbear of your business.

How so? In the first article of our three-part series addressing modern marketing needs, we reviewed how data and analytics are allies to your cause, as long as they are coupled with the right processes, technologies, and, of course, people. In this article, we will look at how an established partnership between sales and marketing stakeholders in your organization can bring a new perspective on how managing data and creating actionable sales insights—fast—despite the avalanche of information.

BCG noted in a blog that despite organizations having the best intentions to focus on Customer Insights (CI), most remain inward looking and the CI function is relegated to that of research function, not a source to support strategic decision-making.

In a marketing-led structure, CI may sit under the marketing function, or under the umbrella of a Customer Experience (CE) function. Regardless of where the reporting line goes, the importance of CI lies in the capabilities to mine explicit and implicit customer data sources and to present them to respective teams for the next step. That, however, is still greatly dependent on how the teams can work together in a cohesive partnership where resources can be best managed, and accountability is articulated at every stage.

Opposites attract

The age-old adage, “opposites attract,” should be the mantra of effective sales and marketing today. Traditionally, sales may view marketing as just another creative department in charge of running spiffy promotional campaigns and churning out stacks of product brochures, as well as the occasional marketing premiums to bring along for their next customer visit.

Marketing may also think of themselves as a support function to their counterpart’s monthly sales review or quarterly goal setting, but rarely a collaborator in their daily sales action plans. This, in turn, is translated to ever-changing and increasingly unrealistic sales and marketing goals.

The good news is, we’ve seen proof in recent years that improved sales and marketing alignment may be the solution to becoming better and faster together, resulting in significantly increased revenue and opportunities.

“…effective Sales and Marketing alignment achieved 208% higher marketing revenue…”- Wheelhouse Advisors, 2016

Wheelhouse Advisors, a marketing consultancy, shared that better sales and marketing alignment can lead to increase in revenue, and at the same time, decrease in the potential loss due to misalignment of sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts.

One of the most “costly” misalignment mistake starts from lead generation, where either leads sourced through marketing a) are not passed on at all or b) are not properly followed up by sales with the lack of an established process to follow through. The result? Almost 80% of leads are never converted.

The rewards of sales and marketing alignment are not out of your reach either. Many studies out in the market prove that opposites can attract and work together beautifully for the greater good of your organization. And a way to bridge that existing gap to marry the virtues of sales and marketing can be through a shared appreciation of customer insights, thus introducing a renewed sense of camaraderie.

Breaking the I.C.E

Customer Insights remain as graphs and statistics. If end users are not educated nor enabled to make reasonable decisions, they will not be able to determine the best course of action. The big question is how do you get started on this seemingly mammoth task?

Working with TIBCO’s customers, we’ve rounded up a checklist of questions that can help CI teams initiate the conversation with sales and marketing and for the latter to keep them on the straight and narrow to becoming a data-driven revenue machine.

Initiating: How can we make customer insights more accessible?

Digital has transformed the world we live in today. People, things, systems are constantly connected. They consume and produce a vast quantity of data instantly. We’ve skimmed the surface in our last post of the type of work and amount of hours data scientists put in to make sense of all this, but to start a conversation outside of the data experts requires some level of simplification to create resonance.

This means to empower novice users in the organization with the ability to build, share and track data charts without having to go through prior intensive technical training. The key here is accessibility, like with TIBCO Spotfire’s predictive analytics—users should be allowed to the same advanced calculation that data experts have, so everyone can be more efficient, more skilled, and smarter.

Checking: How are we tracking our progress and opportunities?

As the alignment process continues and more people within the organization get on board this transformation to becoming a single, connected team, attribution measurements need to be in place to ensure that constant refinements can be made. This is akin to using an agile development model so that you know what works, what doesn’t, and how acquired knowledge can be applied to an overall predictive model to make the “what’s next” more predictable.

One way is to have a platform, like TIBCO’s Augment Intelligence, that can shorten the cycle from data analysis to insights—from building predictive models and performing root-cause analysis to producing a dashboard that can support real-time decision making, automated action, and continuous learning.

Expecting: How do we provide a predictable path to success?

Finally, there needs to be a common understanding on how insight, sales, and marketing should work together, and how they can combine an artistic and emotional side of the organization with a mathematical and automated side.

For example, the first analytic datamart of its kind, TIBCO Live Datamart, uses the TIBCO StreamBase platform to add business-focused operational intelligence with visualizations and alerts driven by user queries that automatically update with new results.

What this means is that data insights can finally be used in a manageable way that is measurable, configurable to real business needs from operational users, and also gives stakeholders the capability to respond to real-time events in a prescribed manner.

When operational automation reaches new levels of efficiency thanks to access to connected resources, functional alignment can truly begin to run like clockwork.