The customer lifecycle references the stages customers pass through when considering, purchasing and using products or services offered by their vendors as well as the associated marketing, sales and service tactics the business engages in to push those customers towards a purchase decision.
Among B2B marketers, this is not a new concept; however, the manner in which their customers engage with them – and with each other – has necessitated a shift in the typical linear lifecycle marketing model.
The illustration below presents a typical B2B lifecycle marketing process.
Many marketers, including the sales and marketing software that support them, focus on tracking, scoring and possibly even measuring the pre-sale lifecycle. This is no mystery since, according to David Skok, VC and Hubspot board member, customer aquisition costs can run as high as $75,000 (for groups with field sales teams).
As our customers became more connected through technology, marketing practices and software evolved to include customer development practices into the program. Yet, it’s usually an independent practice appended to the program, not a core component of it. Certainly, there’s litte interdependence between the two forces driving revenue.
There are three fundamental problems with this model:
- The increase in customer acquisition attainable by strong customer development strategies is lost.
- Placing revenue at the center of the model shifts focus from the customer experience, which in fact decreases the business’ total revenue generating possiblities.
- Lifetime customer value and marketing effectiveness cannot be accurately measured or scored without customer development strategy set as an equal partner in the methodology.
Bend It Like Beckham … a CX Strategist
Effective B2B customer lifecycle marketing is circular, not linear. A more effective approach is based on the YinYang philosophy where customer development provides an equal balance to customer acquisition. Modern sales and marketing practices integrate post-sale customer engagement, thus combining revenue development with sales funnel development for maximum business growth.
Further, as illustrated in the Sensei model above, in contrast to traditional lifecycle methodologies the purchase is not the end point but another equal stage in the process. The goal of a business is definitely revenue and profit yet making it the end goal in your sales and marketing strategy erects a yield sign along your business’ path to growth.
Managing (and measuring) customer interactions from awareness – THROUGH the purchase – towards advocacy creates a self-sustaining and highly potent ecosystem that will drive greater revenue with larger margin.
This post is an introduction to a new series in which I will focus on the importance of customer development strategies and tactics within this model. Subscribe via the RSS feed to get direct notice of each new post.
In the meantime, I open the debate to you. Is customer development the most important aspect of building a B2B business sales funnel? Is the sale the end result or just a step in the business process?
Sam Fiorella – Sensei
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