The Path to Customer Lifecycle Engagement

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So… your company wants to be great at Sales Engagement.  Excellent! If you’re wondering how to get started and improve over time, check out The Four Stages of Sales Engagement Adoption. If you’re already an expert or wondering what the vision for what the best of the best can look like, read on!

We hear from sales and marketing leaders all the time, “I get the value that Sales Engagement brings to my business development and inside sales teams, but how does this fit with the rest of my organization?” It’s a great question, and one that isn’t glaringly obvious from the name of this exploding category. “Sales Engagement” would appear to be a tool to help sales teams engage with buyers. And it is… but that’s just the tip of the spear.  

I like to think a better name for this category is “Customer Engagement,” because those companies that see success with their top of the funnel efforts quickly move on to use the platform to engage customers across the entire lifecycle, beyond prospecting to more advanced prospect relationship building, opportunity management, customer onboarding, renewals, and advocacy.

So this begs the question… What does a high-performing Sales Engagement solution look like? Reaching the peak of the adoption journey isn’t easy. It takes significant time, resources, process, and a whole lot of testing and experimentation. Those companies that invest the energy are seeing great success. So let’s take a look at what the peak of Customer Lifecycle Engagement can be!

Customer Lifecycle Engagement

Companies must recognize a simple truth: No one likes being sold to.  But everyone has goals, and many can use a hand in achieving them.  We all have milestones to work towards, pain points in our day to day, metrics to hit, and a vision for the future.  High performing sales and marketing teams understand this, and those that are ahead of the game continually ask themselves an important question: “How can I help my customers succeed?”

Know Your Buyer

By deeply understanding your customers and the unique personas that your company serves across industry, job role, tech footprint, etc. you can architect experiences across the customer lifecycle to deliver value to that customer and help them achieve their goals. Each persona may be facing different problems and asking different questions on their path to solve that problem. Brands can tap into this and proactively create experiences that help customers down the path to the promised land.

This is true in prospecting. This is true in marketing. This is true in the sales opportunity process. And this is true for your existing customers.  The question is… how will you show up to create an exceptional experience and help your customers win?

Architect the experience

Once you know your buyers and their unique pain points and opportunities, a brand must create a plan for the experiences you’d like to create. Commonly this is done via Buyer Journey Mapping. To take it further, InStereo has devised a method we call a Buyer Engagement Blueprint, which is a document that outlines all the campaigns and touchpoints that must exist to progress the buyer through the customer lifecycle. Sales Engagement plays a critical role in this.  In B2B, people still prefer to buy from people. Highly personalized, human messages are essential for creating a great experience, and Sales Engagement tools facilitate this.

Those brands that are working to achieve Customer Lifecycle Engagement are communicating with buyers across the entire lifecycle. To simplify this, we like to break the customer lifecycle down into four areas: Inbound, Outbound, Opportunity, and Customer. Each of these phases of the experience are distinct and have some critical nuances and opportunities.

Inbound

Inbound covers new leads that are coming to us via our top of funnel marketing efforts. This could be through forms on the website, through events, or through behavioral engagement with marketing campaigns. Successful inbound cadences require collaboration between sales and marketing, and continual testing and optimization of programs to ensure sales is focused on the best leads. A few examples are:

  • Contact form follow-up
  • MQL follow-up
  • Hot Lead
  • Event follow-up
  • Webinar follow-up

Outbound

Outbound cadences are any top of funnel cadence where sales is reaching out to a prospect without some form of prospect hand raise. Outbound cadences are the most common that we see in Sales Engagement solutions, as they are typically the first pain point that Sales Engagement tools address for a B2B sales team. The key to outbound cadences is to ensure that the messaging is personalized, humanized, and targeted to the needs of your buyer. As stated earlier, no one likes being sold to. So it’s critical that sales delivers an enjoyable experience and something of value in these outbound programs.  

  • General Prospecting
  • Cold Lead Prospecting
  • Target/Named Account Prospecting
  • Meeting No-Show
  • Sales Nurture (No response, bad timing, competitor, etc)

Opportunity Lifecycle

All too often, B2B organizations only consider Sales Engagement in Inbound and Outbound. But those organizations who’ve achieved Customer Lifecycle Engagement understand the importance of solidifying process and communications in the opportunity lifecycle as well. Every sales rep thinks that every opportunity will be on the “happy path” where they quickly progress the deal through every stage in a linear manner with no objections. But we all know that’s a rarity. What happens when a rep crushes the demo, but then gets ghosted by the client? What if we don’t have proper executive alignment late in the deal cycle? Cadences can go a long way in creating a great experience for active buyers and helping sales to manage their opportunities when the deal isn’t perfect. Here’s a few examples.

  • Demo confirmation
  • Post-Demo Follow-Up
  • Demo “Gone Dark”
  • Proposal “Gone Dark”
  • Executive Alignment
  • Closed Lost Feedback

Customer Lifecycle

You won the deal!  Time to kick it over the fence to onboarding and never think about it again, right??? Not so much. Winning the deal the first time doesn’t mean you’ll win it again upon renewal, and it definitely doesn’t ensure you’ll have a happy customer along the way. Personalized cadences can help ensure the relationship stays strong and the customer has an excellent experience while working with you. B2B teams in Customer Lifecycle Engagement understand that winning the deal is just the beginning, and they work diligently to provide an excellent experience throughout the relationship.

  • Onboarding & Education
  • Customer Referral 
  • Upsell/Cross-Sell
  • Renewal
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • New Product Release Follow-Up
  • Re-Evaluation
  • Community & Events

Create a “Test and Learn” Culture

Does setting up all these cadences seem like a lot of work? It is. Building all the programs necessary for Customer Lifecycle Engagement can take years of iteration. That’s why it’s essential to establish a culture of experimentation amongst your sales, marketing, operations, onboarding, and success teams.  

Sound scary? It’s actually very simple. All you need to do is try something new. Engage prospects and customers. Learn. Optimize. Repeat.

It could be a new email using messaging to target a new pain point for one of your top personas. It could be a new cadence to your existing customer base 4 months from contract expiration, further cementing relationships and easing a path to renewal. It could be an executive alignment cadence at a critical stage of the opportunity. No matter what it is… try it! See if it works. If it does, roll it out more broadly for your team. If it doesn’t, no big deal. Scrap it and move on to the next idea.

We always suggest organizing a cross-functional team that meets monthly to review performance, identify learnings, and optimize programs for results. This team functions best when it has adequate representation from sales leadership, sales reps, marketing, and operations.


The path to Customer Lifecycle Engagement is a long road. But it’s a rewarding one. Imagine a world where your customer engagement “machine” is built. The right messages go out to the right prospects and customer at the right time. Sales and marketing are working together in harmony. You can grow and scale your team much more easily since rep onboarding and path to productivity is shortened. You have a CSAT score on the top of your category. You generate significant business by referrals.  Customers are advocates, and they are constantly telling their peers how great you are.

When you create an exceptional experience for your customers, you win and you grow revenue. And our team at InStereo would love to help you get there.  If you’d like to discuss a strategy with the experts, contact us to learn more!

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