Changes in Buying Behavior is Changing Organisations

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Element has long talked about the importance of marketing and sales organisations adapting to meet the new demands of customer buying behavior. Today a (potential) customer comes well prepared for a sales meeting with you. She has with her a lot of information gathered in advance and has therefore put herself in the drivers seat.

About a week ago we organised a lunch seminar with Act-On, one of the world's leading marketing automation-platform vendors. The purpose was to discuss the ever-changing technology landscape that marketers and salespeople operate in. And even if the subject was a puzzler for many at the lunch, it became clear that it is not the only issue on their mind. No, the tools you choose to use are after all never better than the way they are used, and thus tends to be a reflection of how the internal organisation is structured.

This meaning; further headache for our seminar participants was the fact that their customers have one (1) picture of them but whilst the salespeople have at least three (or more) picture of the customer. This is not a problem specific to those who came to our seminar, most organisations are divided into different silos; one for sales, one for shipping, one for ongoing support and so on. And this is not just a problem for the customer who wants to buy but becomes an internal obstacle when companies - especially the larger and more mature organisations - wants to adjust to new market demands and silos that have never before had to cooperate and whose work is measured on different scales have to start cooperate.

Silos are merging - led by the CMO?

Andy MacMillan, Act-On's CEO, says that several silos will merge into one in the near future, led by the CMO. Others agree and press the fact that there is no one else in the company that knows the market better than the CMO. A marketing manager now also has access to data that empowers her to make strategic decisions and therefore there is no one else in the organisation that better knows how to adapt to meet customer needs.

...or the dawn of the CBO?

On the other side there are those who argue that the title CMO is outdated and that it is now more relevant to talk about a “CBO” - a Chief Business Officer - to show that it is no longer possible - or relevant - to distinguish between marketing, sale or delivery. The three parts must be one, and all information about the customers collected and used to meet challenges and to take advantage of all opportunities for new and additional sales that come along.

Regardless of how the future unfolds; the key word is holism and successful companies will build their entire organisation around their customers. It is the only way to reach the one-view-of-the-customer and live up to customers expectation of an overall picture of them.

So what do you think will happen? The truth is that no one knows but those who guess correctly will have a huge head start. And to refer back to the lunch seminar and the digital landscape; it is the technology that will enable the collection of the customer knowledge required for the customer to get one (1) picture of you. As long as there is only one picture to mirror, that is.


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