B2B companies no longer have the luxury of a purely functional User Experience Design, narrowly focused on the product needs of a specific industry or department. The consumers, and more importantly buyers of professional services and software are bringing their expectations to work with them elevating the standards for both functionality and UX.
The Importance of Alignment
The cross-functional coordination between sales, product, and other enabling functions required to meet these rapidly growing expectations can feel overwhelming given the many stakeholders involved. Last year, SBI shared 5 Ways Sales Operations Can Champion Customer Experience. Today, we dive deeper into the importance of establishing a feedback loop between the Product and Sales, to learn how the VP of Product and the VP of sales can work together to deliver and capitalize on an amazing user experience design.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We recommend starting with the following six steps to ensure the Sales and Product leaders are directionally aligned on user experience design.
Six Key Steps to Alignment:
- Agree on User Personas to Ensure Feedback Is Relevant and Contextual
- Establish a Feedback Framework to Prioritize Feedback
- Identify Key Customer-Touchpoints to Maximize Value of Existing Channels and Processes
- Facilitate Cross-Functional Conversations to Leverage the Momentum of Existing Initiatives
- Establish a UX Feedback Loop to Prevent This Valuable Exercise from Becoming a One-Time Conversation
- Improve the UX Feedback Loop to Drive Lasting Value
Agree on User Personas to Ensure Feedback Is Relevant and Contextual
This is a critical first step because often sales and product prioritize very different personas. The VP of Sales tends to focus on specific buyer personas prioritized by dollars, typically based on spend amount. Whereas the VP of Product tends to focus on user personas usually categorized by product portfolio with a usage-based value determination. Aligning feedback to the personas also ensures that the feedback is relevant and contextual.
Establish a Feedback Framework to Prioritize Input
There is undoubtedly a variety of frameworks that exist within, and across departments for a variety of purposes, including to categorize and prioritize feedback. Not all UX feedback should be treated equally; usage-based feedback that is captured without the user’s knowledge, direct feedback given to a CSM or sales.
Identify Key Customer-Touchpoints to Maximize Value of Existing Channels and Processes
There are a multitude of options to determine when, where, and how the feedback will be captured, but also communicated to key stakeholders within both product and sales. Many existing technologies (e.g., customer portals, live chat function) or business processes (e.g., quarterly business reviews, or annual account planning) can serve as touchpoints to gather user design feedback as it’s inherently built into the current state.
Facilitate Cross-Functional Conversations to Leverage the Momentum of Existing Initiatives
Breaking down organizational silos certainly requires more than an initial conversation. However, we’ve seen that through a workshop with key departments, or focused initiatives driving alignment can serve as a great starting point. Often there are existing initiatives that serve as significant inputs for UX Design.
Establish a UX Feedback Loop to Prevent This Valuable Exercise from Becoming a One-Time Conversation
Leverage the SBI framework to define clear steps and owners, create a design to ensure that nothing ‘falls through the cracks’ during the process.
Improve the UX Feedback Loop to Drive Lasting Value
Continuous improvement must be an ongoing process to ensure that UX design doesn’t become a ‘fire and forget’ exercise, but instead one that continues to add value.
The Road to Alignment Begins with a Conversation
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you start thinking of all the implications of these steps, where do you start? How do you begin the conversation with your counterpart?
Download our User Experience Design Discussion Planning Tool to ensure you have the first of many productive interactions.
What About the Other Stakeholders?
There are many other contributors to User Experience Design, however historically these have been one-way value streams. The product function ‘pushes’ the latest and greatest developments, whereas other functions like IT, Marketing, or others ‘pull’ those releases into their respective outputs. As an example, Product designs a new release, and IT is tasked with ensuring there will be no impact on other operating systems, whereas marketing is tasked with developing campaigns to advertise the new functionality.
Although there have been many advancements in cross-functional alignment, they’ve largely excluded sales. The collaboration between UX, UI, PM, and Backend teams leveraging The Four In A Box Model to support the ongoing VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) is representative of both.
Gone are the days where ‘customer feedback’ or ‘user experience’ were purely anecdotal. The key to resolving the age-old “outward- in” challenge is for the VP of Product and the VP of Sales to not only align on User Experience Design but to maintain an open dialogue.
Ready to Start the User Experience Design Conversation?
Leverage our Rapid Diagnostic for User Experience design to gauge the readiness of your company.
Let our experts facilitate the discussion, and kick start your customer experience transformation, contact us to schedule time with one of our experts in the SBI Studio.