Personalization Is all the Buzz for Sales

Bryan Elsesser, Senior Director, Sales Development, eMarketer
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As a sales leader, keeping your team competitive is becoming increasingly more challenging. The enterprise B2B buyer has changed, demanding more personal attention and research upfront than ever before. Inbound lead generation tactics are becoming less effective in adding leads to the top of the funnel, pushing sales teams toward account-based marketing strategies that incorporate additional proactive outreach to engage prospective customers.

Our prospects are saturated with solicitations. Technologies continue to come into the market and increase competition, and stuck in the middle of it are the sales teams. In order to remain competitive, they are now tasked with a new job: leveraging more human-to-human interactions, and finding a way to be unique in an environment full of white noise.

However, as these technologies continue to evolve to iterate on available features that already exist within the marketplace, feature development alone is no longer enough to create a true “difference” between competing tech companies.

Sales teams (including account management) have become the differentiating factor, and they are the new value story in B2B sales. Buyers want to be catered to, and as such, sales teams need to stand out. Sales teams must understand that their prospects are saturated by mass marketing. As a craft, sales now require the right tools to identify their key prospects, enhance the timing and method of their outreach, and inform their content. Additionally, sellers need to understand the changing psychology of their buyer and learn to speak the language of personalization.

 In order to remain competitive, they are now tasked with a new job: leveraging more human-to-human interactions, and finding a way to be unique in an environment full of white noise 

Ask a sales manager about their feelings regarding their teams spending “too much time researching” and you’re bound to hit a pain point. One of the key challenges in B2B sales teams focused on new business is understanding the proper balance between the volume of engagement and the necessary research behind personalization. Sellers need to have nuance in their engagements, and be able to quickly dive into social information about a particular prospect and company, as well as identify the reasons why that particular buyer would be motivated to speak with them. In essence, B2B sales have become less about business-to-business and more about being human-to-human.

The most successful B2B sales teams are ones that are employing a healthy mix of personalization across a variety of mediums, while consistently reaching out to their prospects over a period of time. Outside of regular calls, emails and LinkedIn messages, sales teams are using video, handwritten letters, texting, automated eGifting, and more to reach their prospective customers. Their goal is to stand out and be different from their competition, and marketing teams are on board to support them. For example, Chief Marketer states that 68% of B2B marketers will test personalization in their content and offers this year.

Tech plays a heavy hand in helping savvy sellers be smarter with their messaging. Professional social networks, engagement management software, and prospect data providers all play a role. But it’s important to remember that there is no one true tool that covers all the necessary functions in prospecting and engaging clients. Companies looking to sell their products and services today can expect to spend hefty sums to build out the tech stack necessary for effective outreach. At the same time, tech platforms are racing to solve more of this existing outreach problem in a single space. App directories are becoming more common to meld together different vendor solutions. Even AI is beginning to play a part in an attempt to solve the problem existing between personalization and scalable outreach.

That said it’s still a long road ahead until there is a true, single platform that specifically solves the problem of understanding and nurturing the new B2B buyer. As your company heads in the direction of more account-based outreach, here are a few tips to help you be successful:

• Technology is both the answer and not the answer to solving personalized outreach. Build a tech stack that makes sense for your company, solution or service, and customers.

• Personalized outreach works as long as you can be speedy in its delivery. Don’t get held up spending too much time researching prospects. Find three bullet points about them and their company, and then engage.

• Let data inform your CRM, and let data analytics inform your outreach strategy. Find software that allows you to watch open rates, click throughs, response rates and opt outs.

• Don’t use your engagement software as a marketing automation (mass marketing) tool. Death to the mail merge.

• Finally, there is no “golden bullet” to sales. What works for one company, one sales team within a company, may not work for everyone. Sales is a human-to-human game, and will always require a seller to understand buyer psychology and the necessary nuance to engage customers and close deals.

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