Mo Bunnell is enthusiastic about his encore appearance at Arke’s Customer Experience (CX) Summit. “I enjoyed it last year because of the level of the expertise in the room,” he said.

As the founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Bunnell Idea Group (BIG), Bunnell rates expertise as one of the biggest keys to success in life. “Know valuable things no one else knows, and you can’t help but be successful,” he said.

BIG Plans for Arke’s CX Summit

An entrepreneur, athlete, husband, father, and soon-to-be-published author, Bunnell knows quite a bit.

His company, BIG, is a high-level business development consulting firm. It uses behavioral science to teach busy professionals how to be great at business development.

Bunnell’s experience matches well with the goals of the CX Summit, a one-day forum for Arke clients, partners, and invited guests.

Now in its third year, Arke holds the event to share actionable insights about customer-focused strategies and technologies in the digital era. It will be held April 18 at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta.

Bunnell is one of seven speakers on the agenda. He will lay out a blueprint for exceptional customer experiences — based on lessons he learned helping his BIG clients grow and develop their own businesses.

How Bunnell Gained Deep Expertise

Bunnell founded BIG in 2006 after more than 10 years at Hewitt Associates, now part of the Aon. Hired as an actuary, he later transitioned to an account executive. In that role, he worked with top executives at Fortune 100 companies, solving their most complicated talent issues.

“I had to learn how to do client service, client delivery, and client growth activities like business development,” he recalled.

And he had to learn it on his own. “There was no playbook for the work I was doing,” he said. “So I just started researching and building a system that worked. What does behavioral science tell us about business development? What does psychology tell us? Why does one person or organization make a purchase while another does not?”

In his quest for answers, he found his passion. “I discovered I really enjoyed mentoring and teaching others about business development,” he said.

In the past 12 years, BIG has prospered. Its primary service is its proprietary GrowBIG System, which helps professionals learn to manage both delivery and growth by implementing new processes and skills that prioritize business development.

“Most importantly GrowBIG focuses on designing a desirable buying experience, not ‘selling,'” he said.

‘Do the Right Things’ With Your CX

As BIG has grown, so has Bunnell’s reputation as a thought leader with a love of strategy, innovation, and design. This fall, Bunnell will gain added recognition as an author. The Hachette Book Group plans to publish his first book, The Snowball System — an apt metaphor for customer experience.

As Bunnell explains, “If you do the right things with your CX, it’s like a snowball rolling downhill. When you treat people right, your business grows through its own momentum.”

Arke: How does driving growth connect with today’s emphasis on CX?

Bunnell: Clients and customers are begging outside organizations to bring them new ideas and to help them accomplish their goals, as well as to drive the business initiatives that are important to them. At the same time, they don’t want to be sold to.

How can we, as leaders of customer relationships, create the experience that not only creates amazing delivery of services or products but also helps clients understand what they should be purchasing that maybe they’re not aware of yet?

The customer experience is as much about the delivery of services as it is to the exposure to new services. Yet a lot of people hesitate to do that second part — they want to do the servicing but not the growth activities. But clients want them and need them and ask for them. And how we design the perfect buying experience is a really, really healthy and fantastic part of any client relationship — customer relationship — if we do it right.

Stop Selling, Start Listening

Arke: With the exception of companies like Amazon, how close are we to the holy grail of exceptional customer experience?

Bunnell: Amazon has done a great job of personalizing its marketing and making it really easy to buy more things with a minimal number of steps. But most businesses don’t operate that way. In general, I think we’re pretty far off from the goal of exceptional CX.

Most businesses still do a lot more selling than listening. They focus on themselves instead of their customers. Many times they make it overly burdensome to make the purchase. They make it hard to create a contract that works for everybody or to select the different options. I think we could actually learn a lot from the Amazons of the world. We need to ask ourselves, “How can I design a buying experience my customers will absolutely love and thank us for later?”

Arke: What seems to be the big stumbling block then for most businesses?

Bunnell: A lot of times we’re thinking about us instead of the client or the customer. The way that looks inside the organization is, “Hey, we’ve got this new thing. We want to take it to these top 50 customers or clients and prospects and I’m going to measure everybody to make sure they take the 72-page PowerPoint out and blabber on about it to all of those people on that list.”

When we start internally and work inside out like that, it is a recipe for failure because then we’re just running around talking about what we do. On the other hand, when we start with what our clients are trying to accomplish, then we can get really creative about helping them reach their goals. We can see if the new things we have to offer is a good fit. If they’re a good fit, then great. But if not, we can find other ways to help them.

Maybe we need to introduce them to our partners, who do different things than we do. The focus shouldn’t be on selling something. It should be helping people accomplish their goals. When you start by really listening to your clients and prospects, that’s when the magic happens.

Align Marketing With Sales

Arke: What’s the big message you want to share at CX Summit?

Bunnell: The importance of aligning marketing and sales so they’re seamless from the customer perspective. A customer, for example, could be exposed to an idea on three different platforms through marketing messages. That customer gets excited about it, and then has a conversation with someone on the sales team.

Ideally, the conversations with sales are completely aligned with the marketing messages. Then the sales team can effectively guide the prospect through a set of decisions to decide if a product or service is right for his needs.

Frisbee, Anyone?

Arke: What do you do for fun?

Bunnell: I love playing ultimate Frisbee. I absolutely love it. I don’t know why, but for some reason, it’s deep down in my core.

Last year. I made one of the teams that competed in the World Championship in Portugal. This year I’m on a team competing in the world championships in Italy in June. I convinced my family to go along. That includes my wife Becky, and my two great daughters, Gabby, a freshman at Duke University, and Josie, a sophomore at The Galloway School here in Atlanta. We can’t wait!

Are you a marketing, sales, IT, or customer experience leader? Join us April 18 at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta for the Arke CX Summit. Register now!

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.