How to Align External Sales Teams to Improve Customer Experience

Now more than ever, winning and retaining customers depends on more than offering the best products at the best price. Increasingly, the success of a business is linked to how well they deliver on customer experience. 

For manufacturers who sell through distributors and channel partners, the steps you take to improve customer experience may look different than a direct seller with an internal sales team, but the process is essentially the same: Focus on the interactions and experiences your customer has with your business throughout the entire customer journey, from first contact to happy and loyal customer.

As a channel seller, your wide network of distributors are the face of your sales operations, and enabling them to provide your customers with the best possible experience before, during and after they make a purchase is critical to keeping pace with the expectations of your customers. 

Today, consumers have more choices than ever before, which makes it easy for them to look elsewhere when they’re dissatisfied. Customer experience is also a way to stand out in the marketplace. A Hubspot Customer Success Survey found that firms that adopt a customer-centric approach are more likely to experience growth and to differentiate themselves from their competition. What’s more, loyal customers don’t just come back, they insist that others do business with you, too. 

If your distributors are slow to react to customer requests or respond with outdated, irrelevant information — your customer’s overall experience with your brand is going to suffer. 

With developments in digital technology, it’s never been easier to design a service strategy built to support your external sales teams. 

Here are 4 ways to help your channel partners provide a higher quality customer experience: 

1, Increase Speed-to-Contact Rates

We know that speed-to-contact rates are a leading performance indicator of sales conversion. But what about customer satisfaction? How important is it to your customers that they receive a timely response to their request? If a customer isn’t receiving a response within a reasonable time frame, they are more likely to look elsewhere. 

2, Ensure Sales Leads are Qualified

A well-qualified lead provides a distributor with contextual information, or how hot the lead is. When the channel partner initiates the process of nurturing a buyer through the sales funnel, qualified leads ensure they can begin with a productive conversation tailored to your customer’s inquiry.

3, Provide Relevant Support 

Today’s buyers expect personalized pitches and consultative sellers with deep, contextual knowledge. Help your distributors deliver the highest quality conversation to your customers by providing them relevant, timely content and product specs.

4, Communicate Frequently

Provide sales managers with insight into which sales reps are delivering the best customer experience and which ones need improvement. To do this, it’s important that both manufacturer and distributor are working from the same information in real-time. Otherwise your understanding of your pipeline and sales performance will be incomplete and unhelpful.

Why Manufacturer-Distributor Alignment Matters 

Customer experience is how successful businesses differentiate themselves from their competition and earn their customers’ business over and over again. In indirect sales, that means manufacturers and distributors need to share access to the same tracking and engagement system to understand the needs of your customers throughout the entire sales process.