Transforming the B2B Sales Data Desert Into a Rich and Fertile Customer Experience Oasis

by Charles Araujo | April 10, 2022

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Welcome to The Digital Experience Report, your source for news, analysis, and insights on the ExTech (Experience Technologies) market and all things related to the Digital Experience.

In this report, conversations with my friend Phil Gerbyshak and StorySlab shift my view on the role of sales enablement in delivering a winning B2B customer experience. Also, a article on the importance of a second wave of CRM adoption, a new Twilio study on revenue growth from digital customer engagement, new studies from Dynatrace and ABBYY on the effective use of automation, and a new study from Asana on the relationship between work and organizational agility. Plus news from Conversica, Salesforce, Espressive, PROS, Moogsoft, Kazoo, Medallia, New Relic, Gupshup, and ActiveCampaign.

Transforming the B2B Sales Data Desert Into a Rich and Fertile Customer Experience Oasis

We often talk about the customer experience as if it’s a single thing, realized in a single fashion. While there has been plenty of talk recently about concepts like channel-less and meeting the customer where they are, the context is almost always from a consumer buying experience perspective.

And the results for organizations that have gone all-in on this approach are staggering. A Twilio study released this week shows that companies that have invested in digital customer engagement and personalization technologies are seeing an average revenue boost of 70%. Wow.

But as we discovered in last week’s Digital Experience Report, the digital experience plays a meaningful role in the buying process for even the most industrial B2B business you can imagine.

And a chief part of the customer experience in a B2B setting is the interaction between a would-be customer and a sales representative. Unfortunately, that interaction has historically been an offline affair that created a massive data desert for organizations.

The combination of the pandemic and the remote interactions it forced, along with some rapidly evolving technology, may be changing this dynamic and transforming the B2B sales engagement data desert into a rich and fertile oasis for the customer experience.

Fertilizing the B2B Sales Data Desert

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Brian Cleary and Seth Mulligan, Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President, Revenue and Customer Operations, respectively, with StorySlab.

Frankly, I almost didn’t take the briefing.

The reason is that I generally don’t cover the sales enablement space. While I don’t discount the benefit of this particular technology class, it is primarily focused on improving sales efficiency and effectiveness — and not focused on the customer’s experience in the process.

However, in StorySlab’s pitch, they made the case that they could do both. I was intrigued.

When we met, Cleary and Mulligan explained that the company is trying to fill this customer experience data gap during the B2B sales process by helping the sales rep to meet the customer where they are and engage in a relevant way.

 The company does this by providing a unified and controlled content repository that sales reps use during a sales meeting — think sales decks, customer case studies, and so on.

The company further allows its clients to organize this content by pipeline stage, persona, and almost any other way that will enable the rep to readily pull forward content relevant to the prospective customer at any point of the sales meeting.

Most intriguing, however, is the data that the company captures as a result.

The company can harness data about the content a rep used during the sales meeting, the time spent with each piece of content, and so on.

That information is then pushed back into a CRM or CDP to further enrich the customer’s profile. But organizations can also use that data to determine content effectiveness and inform broader marketing decisions.

Source: StorySlab

While the company hasn’t publicly put forth its product roadmap, it is clearly making the use of data a critical enabler of personalization and the rep-delivered customer experience. I suspect there will be some interesting and exciting developments to come.

I left the StorySlab briefing with my curiosity piqued. But a coincidental meeting later that same day made me realize that what the company is doing is part of a broader movement that is afoot.

The Human vs. Automated Customer Experience

As it so happened, I had previously scheduled time to catch up with an old friend. Phil Gerbyshak is a fellow author and keynote speaker, an expert on sales enablement, and the Sr. Sales Enablement Program Manager for BambooHR

I hadn’t spoken with him in a long time, so my sole purpose of the call was to catch up. But that’s not how it went.

As we spoke, we discussed the conversation with StorySlab and my interest in the relationship between the sales meeting and the customer experience. He enthusiastically agreed that it was a critical step most organizations were missing.

“CX is going to split into human and automated CX,” he told me. “The automated is the AI and other bits before you speak to someone. But the human part of the CX is just as important.”

Of course, we know this to be true in a retail-type setting.

It’s a significant part of the push around omnichannel and channel-less — to ensure a cohesive experience as a customer moves from a digital to human interaction. But in the B2B setting, particularly in the context of a sales rep interaction, it’s something that most organizations have skipped over.

But as Phil made clear to me, that human sales rep is the last mile of the B2B buying experience and deserves to be a first-class citizen in the digital experience process. “The miss is that even if you have the information, you’re missing the insight,” he explained. “A good salesperson is about the insight. It’s about value, not volume. You need someone to guide you through the last bit of the forest.”

And to do that effectively, the sales rep needs data to best personalize the experience, and the organization needs data that helps tune and power the complete end-to-end customer experience.

This need is what StorySlab is helping to fill. And they’re not alone. Companies like Gong and Chorus are helping organizations capture and analyze data from sales interactions of all types (emails, Zoom calls, etc.). Collectively, this broad class of emerging technologies is seeking to fertilize the B2B sales interaction data desert.

Keeping the Experience Focus

If one thing worries me about this data about live sales interactions (whether virtual or in-person), it is that, like most data, organizations can use it for both good and evil.

I appreciated the balance that StorySlab is attempting to strike. Every organization wants to make its sales processes more effective and increase sales. The data and insights that these tools can provide will undoubtedly help deliver these gains.

But their real power will come from using that data to create a fluid, authentic, and personalized customer experience that extends into human interactions and serves not to cajole the customer, but rather to put them even further in control of their own journey.

When used to trick or manipulate, this data will ultimately backfire on organizations. But when used to understand, empathize, and serve, it will transform both the customer experience and the sales process simultaneously — creating massive sales gains in the process.

Are You a DXO?

If you’re an enterprise executive that understands the critical role that the digital experience plays in creating value in the modern enterprise, then you’re a Digital Experience Officer — or DXO — and you should be a part of our DXO Council. 

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Cover image credit: santiagotorrescl95

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About the author 

Charles Araujo

Charles Araujo is a technology analyst and internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise, the Digital Experience and the Future of Work. Researching Digital Transformation for over 10 years, he is now focused on helping leaders transform their organizations around the digital experience and to reimagine the future of work. Publisher and principal analyst of The Digital Experience Report, founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation, co-founder of The MAPS Institute, and author of three books, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and advisor to technology companies and enterprise leaders.

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