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Guest Blogger, Greg Hanifee, Associate Dean, Executive MBA Global Network at Kellogg School of Management



According to the World Economic Forum, we are in the midst of the fourth Industrial Revolution, where Machine Learning and AI will replace work done by many humans today. Yet, Forrester Research states that if you are to win in the digital economy, “… customer relationships are now the only differentiator.”

Staying close to the customer and keeping their engagement is a two-way conversation that is no longer dictated simply by the power of the company’s brand or when you decide to reach out to your customer/prospect. You need to know how to keep the close engagement in a fast-paced digital economy.

Walk in the customers’ shoes

Use “journey mapping,” or a “jobs to be done methodology in partnership with your marketing team to understand what the pain points are in the sales process. This also brings alignment between sales and marketing and more aligned sales and marketing teams win 38% more often and retain 36% more customers.

Do you know where advertisements and opportunities for engagement are being placed for your target customers? Are those places (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube) in sync with your experience for your customers? Do you know where the leads are sourced from? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you succeed.

Analytics has deepened our understanding of our customers’ behaviors across many social media and digital platforms and all of this information enhances our sight-lines into the customer’s world. Yet, we shouldn’t forget the role that our personal brand plays in building trust and securing a sale.

The customer experience journey in the digital world has changed customers’ expectations, regardless of whether you’re in B2B or B2C selling. In order for you to succeed, you must know the basics of your customer’s journey in the digital world and create trust with your personal brand. If you follow these five steps, your chances of winning will increase significantly:

  1. Know your customer’s space. Understand where they are most active and passionate.

  2. Don’t stalk, but be authentically active. If you really want to help the client/prospect change their world using SAP solutions, support their words and others with reinforcing, positive comments or likes.

  3. Leverage SAP’s success stories (and yours, in a humble way) to show you believe in the products and services that you are proposing. Customers want to see the brand (SAP) they’ve invested in is investing in them. Remind them of the great things you’re doing for them (or the world) in sincere ways by re-purposing video stories.

  4. Be interesting, but don’t make this about your personal life. We all have personal milestones that are important to us, but be mindful of what you are posting on social media.

  5. Invite them in for feedback! Customers, even if they are having a great experience, enjoy providing feedback – but don’t push too hard!

Lastly, remember that every customer experience is shaped by the best customer experience someone may have had, anywhere, whether it’s in a B2B or B2C journey. Companies are held to higher standards today, meaning our customers’ experience and engagement online today with the best-in-class firms define their expectations of us. Your advantage will come from empathetically walking in their shoes and leveraging your personal brand.