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Industrial Consumerism: Get serious about disruptive growth

More than 80 percent of industrial customers want to be treated like consumers, challenging sales and marketing organizations to raise their game.
Bernd Hirschle

Bernd Hirschle
Lead Customer & Channels, Industrial Consumerism, Accenture

Industrial customers are behaving increasingly like consumers. More knowledgeable, self-directed and informed, they seek seamless, transparent access to relevant and tailored expertise, and their expectations are rising constantly.

We call this shift Industrial Consumerism—and it heralds new, value-generating opportunities for traditional marketing and sales organizations. Eighty-four percent of industrial executives believe that providing the differentiated experience that customers increasingly expect can boost their competitive advantage. Accenture project experience further suggests that high performing organizations could achieve an EBIT as much as 4 percent higher than their low and middle ranking peers.

Positioning for an increasingly digitized go-to-market environment in 2020 will be challenging. Traditional sales and marketing organizations will need to revamp their customer interaction, structures and processes. Making the most of the growth and efficiency gains that industrial consumerism offers will also require a dramatic shift in mind-set.

In the past, industrial companies’ sales efforts relied on technology or product leadership to stay ahead of the competition. Today, they must successfully meet the rising service expectations of digitally empowered customers by continually differentiating the customer journey: Leveraging digital technologies to improve established processes and ways of doing business and to become high performers in terms of process, organization and strategy.

Winners will reap rewards

Winning in this new environment means that three key priorities must be at the top of every industrial executive’s agenda:

Industrial marketing and sales executives need to stay ahead of customer expectations by creating a compelling customer engagement enabled by a deep understanding of the customer journey. The goal should be a 360° real-time view of the customer—a view that will help develop strategies to address such critical issues as how to approach customers in an increasingly digitized world, the information they require, and their buying criteria.

Aligning digital technologies with the customer journey will help marketing and sales executives boost sales performance, satisfy customers, and improve workforce efficiency. Five key business-technology trends in particular impact marketing, sales and service: Intelligent Automation, Liquid Workforce, Platform Economy, Predictable Disruption and Digital Trust.

Leadership and example setting are key success factors in shaping your new, 2020 sales and marketing organization. Strong leadership will help ensure that everyone works toward common goals—while pushing for efficiency gains to reinvest for growth and the development of new skills.

To succeed in the age of industrial consumerism sales and marketing organizations need to focus less on product and more on the customer experience. The time to start is now.