In the information technology market, customer experience blind spots are creating a costly drag on sales and marketing investments for vendors across the board, according to a report from IDC.
IDC's latest Customer Experience Research report found that 100% of IT sales and marketing professionals believe "the alignment of marketing content and sales approach with the needs of customers is very important". But the same respondents also scored their own alignment with customer buy-cycles at only 66%.
In IDC's recent survey of IT vendors, respondents said that customer alignment is weakest in the awareness and consideration phases of the buy-cycle, meaning revenue opportunities are being lost. Many also said that misalignment also occurs in the later phases of the buy-cycle, leading to customer retention issues as well.
According to Robert Johnson, vice president of customer experience research at IDC, "The maturation of the technology industry has created unprecedented margin pressure for vendors, forcing sales and marketing executives to get a greater return on every dollar spent. But how to execute this remains a mystery to many."
The study noted that many vendors lack sufficient contact, feedback, and understanding to achieve the desired alignment with their customers. Rich Vancil, vice president of IDC's CMO Advisory Service, added: "Not only do business-to-business tech marketers have blind spots when it comes to their prospects and customers, but changing buying team dynamics and the infusion of new marketing vehicles such as blogs and podcasting further complicates their understanding of how buyers are being (and will be) influenced."
Similarly, sales executives must also make more informed investment decisions to increase selling productivity, even though deciding on where to focus can be challenging. Donald MacDonald, vice president of IDC's Sales Executive Practice, explained: "The major challenge for IT sales executives in a more complex, customer-centric market is determining the right territory coverage model and resource levels to remain both competitive and profitable. In the high growth, product-centric tech industry of the past, sales and marketing executives could afford to guess. In the more mature, margin-sensitive market of today, they have to get it right."
The study, entitled The Customer Experience Gap: Vendors Fail to Give a Passing Grade in Their Alignment With Customers', examines IT vendors' opinions on the importance of alignment and provides a baseline on how well aligned vendors feel they are today, as well as highlighting those areas that present the greatest challenges.