Customer Experience (CX) Vs. Demand Experience (DX): Why CX Is an Outdated Prologue for Optimizing Go-to-Market (GTM) Execution

Often in business the greatest challenge lies in problem definition — i.e., defining the problem you need to solve, instead of just attacking immediate problems. We see this challenge in the approach many organizations take to optimizing their go-to-market (GTM) programs. Executives — who have a fiduciary responsibility not only to optimize their budgets, but also to dig into the root cause of performance challenges — miss the mark by attempting to optimize commercial execution through the lens of Customer Experience (CX).

Are you optimizing CX when your real focus should be on Demand Experience (DX)?

Optimizing GTM execution is one of those areas where what you ‘need’ to be doing (i.e., the problem you need to be solving), and how many organizations tackle the problem are at odds. All too often, this leads to organizations engaging in random acts of sales and marketing — in an attempt to shore up tactical gaps and with an insufficient perspective on customer critical path — instead of building sustainable go-to-market programs. When organizations tackle GTM optimization through the CX lens, they fail to garner — and act upon — the customer-journey insights critical to optimizing the underlying, connected execution that makes or breaks GTM efforts.

Therein lies the issue of CX vs. DX.

What is CX?

Customer Experience (CX) defines the quality of a customer’s interaction with a given product or service, as well as the adjacent service and support around this product or service. Positive CX is a substantive element that builds things like Brand Equity and user adoption, and it is a direct dependency on customer retention. And of course, CX is a requisite for customer growth and for customer advocacy.

Organizations spend considerable time and energy measuring and optimizing CX — especially through lenses such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives. And many organizations with sophisticated approaches to CX leverage thoughtful persona and customer story work to fully visualize opportunities and challenges related to CX. And this is all worthwhile… to optimize the customer’s experience with your product or service.

What is DX?

The issue — the gap — when it comes to optimizing GTM execution is that CX is not DX. And DX is the lens critical to optimizing GTM execution.

Demand Experience (DX), which often is not well understood, measures the GTM experience of prospects and customers. It defines their customer journey through the lens of the information requests, the stakeholder and engagement channel interactions and the buying phases. Pre-sale DX progresses through Engagement, Nurturing and Conversion of prospects; post-sale DX progresses through Success, Development and Growth of customers.

DX is the sum of ALL of the points of interaction between a company’s marketing, sales and customer success organizations and the resultant impact on initial sale and longer-term growth of a customer’s account. It defines the critical path of a customer’s commercial lifecycle, and as we optimize this critical path, lift to DX should drive growth through lift to pipeline and lift to customer lifetime value (CLV).

Too often, companies blend sales, marketing, and customer success POVs together with product and engineering POVs, diluting the ability to manage and assess an organization’s commercial functions. DX requires discrete, separate, critical-path analysis to get to the root cause of GTM inefficiencies.

One nuance of DX is that there are many stakeholders — such as contract signatories and/or executive sponsors of relationships — that do not actually use the product or service; thus, there is no CX to optimize with these audiences, and too often they do not show up in CX-oriented ratings, persona and story work. That’s why DX digs into stakeholders, buying journey, content consumption and sales/marketing frictions as insights into the condition of DX.

DX covers the journeys and interactions that CX misses.

CX is not DX.

The challenge with GTM execution is that its optimization is not a function of CX; rather, it is a function of DX. It is a function of optimizing the series of interactions with a customer’s stakeholders, across multiple channels, throughout the end-to-end buying lifecycle — both pre- and post-sale.

It is far too often the case, among B2B organizations that struggle with growth, that they may have an excellent product/service, a strong sense of target market and a well-refined value proposition, maybe even solid ambitions and strategy for go-to-market. And yet — their go-to-market fails in execution.

There are many reasons for this, and many opportunities to improve go-to-market. The greatest gap is failure to operationalize go-to-market around customer journey — both pre- and post-sale — which makes the company less likely to be ‘right place, right time’ and wastes GTM program dollars.

Effective DX provides a lens to understand the intersection (and gaps) between an organization’s GTM execution and its customer’s buying lifecycle. Effective DX helps drive GTM optimization by aligning the two.

Foundations for Optimizing DX — Go-to-Market Assessment and Conversation Track Architecture

The first step toward DX optimization is conducting a Go-to-Market Assessment (GTMA), which must cover two elements. One, it must identify the ideal core pre-sale and post-sale customer journey, stakeholders, and modes of interaction – zeroing in on key insights that shape the journey. Two, it must perform a gap analysis between this ideal state and the current, ‘as-is’ state of marketing, sales and customer success interactions — digging into those elements that cause a company’s GTM programs to be ‘wrong place, wrong time.’

Once you have a sense of DX gaps, the second step is to build a scalable hypothesis of your critical path – which should become the foundation for go-to-market programs and for a Growth Engine longer-term. This scalable foundation is what we refer to as Conversation Track Architecture. It is the ‘minimum viable’ segmentation by stakeholders and information needs by stage (pre- and post-sale), and creates a basis for perpetual orchestration of GTM elements.

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