There’s a line in an old song, I forget the artist*, that goes something like “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Which has always seemed to me somewhat dubious advice, but that song comes to mind when I’m talking with business leaders about their commercial relationships. Companies often seem to be so focused on new customers and expanding their market share that they under-value a treasure that’s sitting right next to them—the customers they already have.
It’s not just that companies are under-serving their existing customers, though that’s certainly an issue, many businesses could do a much better job of reducing customer churn and designing more profitable offerings if they had better insight into customer needs and behaviors. But the bigger issue is that they’re wasting huge sums of money—in the hundreds of millions of dollars, in some cases—by failing to get complete, timely, accurate customer data into the hands of the people who need it every day. Their sales ops teams are flying blind much of the time, squandering opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, underpricing on contracts, and losing endless hours of selling time while they track down the customer information they need.
If you’re interested in learning more about why this wastefulness happens, why it’s such a big deal for companies in today’s digital environments, and how to go about fixing it, I’d recommend this report from Harvard Business Review: Driving Revenue and Profit from Customers in the Digital Age. It’s a quick read, and it offers some really useful insights into:
- Why and where companies are leaking revenue
- Why it’s not just a tech problem
- How successful enterprises connect information across the organization
- Why contract data is crucial to establishing a single source of truth
- Why cross-functional teams are key to maximizing the value of customer data.
As the report point outs, “at the end of the day, enterprises need to leverage rich, clean data to sell the right products, at the right price and the right time, to the right customer.” And that includes the customer you’re with.
*Actually it was Stephen Stills, circa 1970