What’s the top KPI for UK sales teams? Conversions rates, maybe? Account growth rates? Revenue against targets? No.

As our second annual State of Sales report reveals, customer experience has overtaken more traditional metrics to become the primary factor by which sales performance is judged.

This new emphasis on customer-centric selling shows how dramatically sales teams are shifting their thinking and behaviours – to engage with increasingly empowered customers on their own terms.

It’s a shift that’s also reflected in how UK sales teams rank their overall objectives, with ‘increasing customer retention through deeper relationships’ romping home as the second highest priority, just behind the perennial drive for lead and customer growth.

The challenge of tracking customer experience

Traditionally, customer experience has been notoriously tough to measure.

After all, customers interact with various teams, multiple times during their relationship with a brand, and each interaction can – and will – affect their sentiments, loyalty, and likelihood to recommend.

Trying to piece together the overall experience created by this web of disparate interactions can seem like trying to catch the wind in a jar.

It’s unsurprising then, that ‘not easy to track’ is the #1 reason given by sales teams across the world for not ranking customer experience as one of their top three KPIs.

But our research suggests today’s top sales teams are rising to the challenge. And they’re doing it by reaching out…

The solution – connection and collaboration

With a number of different teams owning a host of different customer interactions, effectively tracking (and improving) customer experience isn’t something Sales can do alone.

It depends on establishing a single view of the customer across all departments – and that’s exactly what many of the highest performing sales teams have done.

Indeed, top teams are over twice as likely to say they’re very good or outstanding at having a single view of the customer.

That single view lets Sales understand, share and act on data needed to improve customer experiences – whether it comes from a marketing nurture campaign, a service call, or web analytics.

It’s also the foundation of a truly collaborative approach to selling, one that the vast majority of UK sales teams now value extremely highly:

  • 75% of UK sales teams say collaborating across departments is absolutely critical or very important to their overall sales process

For top performing teams, collaboration often reaches beyond the boundaries of their company – after all, partners often play a crucial role in customer experience too, and can be an invaluable source of insight for Sales regarding preferences, wants and needs.

Indeed, high-performing sales teams are over twice as likely as underperformers to be outstanding or very good at partner and customer/prospect collaboration.

Who’s already getting it right…

Aston Martin is a great example of a brand that’s put the customer firmly at the heart of its sales process.

The legendary British car manufacturer has brought together sales data from across its own business – and its global network of dealerships – to help ensure its customer relationships are built with the same level of care and quality as its vehicles.

Aston Martin and dealership staff alike use Sales Cloud to share and track information about opportunities and leads. And as Dan Balmer, Director of Global Marketing at Aston Martin, explains:

“With the Lightning platform we can then start to take that lead on a journey, through the dealer, through the sales process and then into them ordering the car. And that drives a 1-1 relationship in a seamless way.”

When you’ve a connected, seamless relationship with your customers, you can create a better class of customer experience. In the words of Simon Sproule, Aston Martin VP and Chief Marketing Officer:

“It’s that surprise and delight. It’s that level of insight we have into the customer and the way they live their lives, so that we can be there when it feels right.”

See the big picture: read the full report

Modern sales teams keenly understand the powerful link between customer experience and sales performance.

And the most successful are working with Marketing, Service and partners to ensure they can effectively measure and deliver the kind of experiences that turn prospects into new customers, and customers into repeat business.

Download the full report to learn more about the current State of Sales, including how the highest performing organisations are liberating reps to focus on selling – and deliver the smart, proactive buying experiences customers crave.