I think of Voice of the Customer (VOC) when I think of the importance of establishing a Feedback Loop in regard to Sales and Marketing Alignment (SMA). Although VOC can be captured in many ways, I think salespeople are the most cost-effective manner in which to gather this priceless information about the customer needs, priorities, and perceptions of performance. They are the ones that interact with customers every day and can detect the minute shifts in the market quickly.
The “voice of the customer” is a process used to capture the requirements/feedback from the customer (internal or external) to provide the customers with the best in class service/product quality. This process is all about being proactive and constantly innovative to capture the changing requirements of the customers with time.
The job then of sales and marketing leaders is to create an environment where colleagues are continuously looking to add to the collective knowledge of the company by seeking more information from prospective and current clients. It is this collective or tribal knowledge that is the competitive advantage for the company. Marketing must play the role of an aggregator to not only collect insights from Sales and its own channels but to synthesize and disseminate these insights in a meaningful way that allows Sales to take action. If Marketing is able to proactively inform Sales about what they need to know in order to make compelling interactions with customers, they are contributing to an effective relationship that is focused on generating revenue for the organization.
From a tactical standpoint, the question may arise - "What are the best ways to capture this feedback in a meaningful way?" Depending on the size of the organization this may seem like a daunting task. However, in the beginning, you don't necessarily need to execute a complex solution. Here a few simple ways to begin the process of creating a feedback-rich environment:
Field/Phone Visits - When Marketing goes out into the field or gets on the phone with Sales it is always a great chance to really hear what customers are saying. It's also an opportunity to see how strategies are being executed in the field. Many marketers have never seen what it takes to actually pull through the strategies that they put down on paper. This tactic is also a great way to gain a better general understanding of what's working by asking Sales directly.
CRM - This tool should be the center of any feedback loop strategy. The CRM should not be looked at solely as an accountability tool but should be looked at as a way to share customer insights in an effective way that can be useful to Sales and the organization at large. Companies must ensure to be transparent about their motivation and use of the CRM to ensure that Sales will make it a priority and supply it with accurate, detailed information. If not, the CRM is worthless and might as well be an overpriced excel document.
Email - One quick and easy way to get people started giving feedback without overwhelming a single point of contact marketing manager is setting up a general inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is a way to be able to check on a regular basis and get an idea if any themes are being raised from Sales. It's kind of a crude but effective social listening campaign.
Surveys - They should be used with discretion, but can provide a forum that allows colleagues to give feedback more candidly and freely due to its anonymity. They should be short, concise and ask for feedback on a particular business issue. Broad reaching surveys tend to get overlooked or receive very general responses.
"We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less." --Diogenes
This article was originally published on Linkedin