How to Sell Omni-Channel Internally

We’re involved right now in a very comprehensive advisory engagement, helping a global Fortune 20 company plan their omnichannel transition. It’s a great learning experience, for them and for us as well.

I thought I’d share some of the insights we’ve taken away so far in a series of posts.

First up: the internal sell.

Our contacts within a company often have a much harder selling job than we do. We tend to work directly with one or two individuals within a company—although we talk to every group and many people. But internally, you have what’s sometimes a much tougher selling job than we do. Getting the ball rolling is really in your hands. By that I mean, convincing the many different groups—each with their own agenda—that the transition to the omnichannel is a smart business decision. Not every company has the same challenges as our F20 client with multiple billion-dollar lines of business and all the internal organizations that keep them running. But even at a smaller level, every company confronts the issue of how to get everyone on the same omnichannel page.

Is it true for you? It’s very likely that each organization (Finance, AP, Marketing, Support, Sales and so on) has its own systems, its own databases, its own procedures and so on. That’s a lot of individual agendas in play, and when that happens you have a lot of interdepartmental conflicts.

Let me try and drive that home with an anecdote. With our F20 client, we interviewed people at all levels across all their organizations and lines of business. We really wanted to probe how breaking down their data silos—how integrating their data with data from across the organization—could drive value to them. The answers varied depending on whether we were talking to leadership (they were big on profitability), line management (they were big on increased productivity) and the individual contributors (eliminating wasted effort was on the top of most of their lists). Three different categories, three different agendas, and tons of potential conflicts between them.

What’s missing?

The customer is missing. None of the people (I mean that literally) focused on how integrating channel silos would create a better customer experience.

And yet, in the face of all these conflicts, improving customer experience is one thing everyone agrees on, and the one thing that absolutely solves everyone’s problem. Satisfied customers are more profitable customers—especially with an omnichannel that lets them buy more, buy more often, with decreased cost of sales. A better customer experience streamlines processes, especially when they have increased self service capabilities. And a better customer experience increases share of wallet—especially when customers connect to their sales rep through any channel at any time.

In fact, it’s the simplest of syllogisms:

Happier customers are more profitable customers;

The omnichannel increases customer satisfaction:

∴ The omnichannel increases profitability

And that’s our secret about the internal sale. Take control of the agenda. Take control of the focus. And turn that focus directly on the customer experience.

Now, I’m not throwing my hat in the ring to be The Blue Fairy of the Omnichannel. You can’t just wave “customer journey” like a magic wand and poof everyone’s in sync. There are many instances (franchise fast food might be one) where the customer journey—good or poor—won’t really dent top, middle or bottom line. But that’s not the case for most businesses—and it’s not the case for virtually every B2B company. In most cases, the impact of using the omnichannel to make the customer experience easier, quicker, and more successful will show rapid results for every organization and for every goal.