Customer Experience Blind Spots Create Costly Drag on Sales and Marketing Investments, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, MA – OCTOBER 31, 2005 – IDC's Customer Experience Research finds that 100% of IT sales and marketing professionals believe alignment of marketing content and sales approach with the needs of customers is very important. However, IT sales and marketing professionals scored their current alignment with customer buy-cycles at 66%, effectively grading themselves a C-. In a recent survey of IT vendors, respondents cited that customer alignment is weakest in the awareness and consideration phases of the buy-cycle, creating significant lost revenue opportunities. However, many respondents indicate that misalignment also occurs in the latter phases of the buy-cycle, resulting in customer retention issues.

"The maturation of the tech industry has created unprecedented margin pressure for tech 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," states Robert Johnson, vice president of Customer Experience Research at IDC.

In a recent study that examines the customer experience, IDC uncovered a strong theme – vendors lack sufficient contact, feedback, and understanding to achieve desired alignment with customers. "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 and will be influenced," said Rich Vancil, vice president of IDC's CMO Advisory Service.

Sales executives also need to make more informed investment decisions to increase selling productivity. However, deciding on where to focus can be difficult. "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," states Donald MacDonald, vice president of IDC's Sales Executive Practice. "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."

In the new study "The Customer Experience Gap: Vendors Fail to Give a Passing Grade in Their Alignment With Customers (IDC #34247), IDC examines IT vendors opinions on the importance of alignment and provides a baseline on how well aligned vendors feel they are today and areas that present the greatest challenge. The study is the first in a series from the IDC Customer Experience Research practice that focuses on the relationship dynamic between customers and vendors. Upcoming studies will provide industry, buyer, and vendor insights into why customers buy, how they buy, what they need during the buying process, and what they value most post-purchase.

For more information on IDC's upcoming multi-client series on "Total Customer Alignment," contact Roberta Powell, sales director, IDC Executive Advisory Group, at rpowell@idc.com or 508-935-4613.

To purchase this document, call IDC's Sales hotline at 508-988-7988 or email sales@idc.com.

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