Three Ways The Pandemic Made Sales And Marketing More Effective
The digital nature of selling, marketing and customer success doesn’t mean outreach has to be robotic. According to findings from Accenture, 89% of business leaders believe in the value of pairing a human-centered approach with a business strategy that leverages data. In fact, according to my company’s study, the majority of B2B revenue leaders say their engagement strategies have taken a more human approach since March 2020.
When the need to physically distance disrupted the tried-and-true playbooks of revenue-generating professionals, some simply turned up the volume on their digital noise (like more ads or emails). But others realized there’s a better way to get a buyer’s attention.
As the workforce returns to the office, revenue-generating teams can’t go back to the old normal of mass, generic outreach. Instead, sellers, marketers and customer experience (CX) professionals need to embrace the human-to-human way of doing business.
Business-to-business gives way to human-to-human.
When the pandemic hit, digital transformation seemingly occurred overnight. To maintain operations, B2B buying and selling was forced to go virtual.
Leading companies are using the influx of digital first-party data to their advantage. They’re leveraging customer information and interactions to better personalize the end-to-end buyer journey. In 2020, organizations with best-in-class CX practices were three times more likely to outpace CX “mainstream” organizations on company performance.
Now that customers have grown accustomed to personalized digital experiences their standards have skyrocketed. According to research from Accenture, 73% of B2B executives acknowledge customer expectations for meaningful services and experiences are significantly higher than even a few years ago.
The takeaway? Companies need to step up their outreach game or a competitor will swoop in instead.
My company surveyed 750 sellers, marketers and CX professionals in the U.S. to identify the trends driving outreach this year. We found that 91% agree that human relationships have become even more essential since March 2020.
Human-to-human outreach can help achieve deeper client relationships, higher client retention and more closed sales. As you strategize customer outreach post-pandemic, here are three practices worth considering:
1. Know your buyer and their priorities.
Even during the height of the pandemic, when budget constraints limited buyers’ purchasing power, successful sellers and marketers were able to retain (and even gain) customers. Their success was, in part, due to their knowledge of the customer and understanding of how their offerings contributed to the customer’s goals.
Human-to-human selling involves building a relationship where you know the priorities of the person on the other end. Trust is created by conveying how you can solve those needs and consistently delivering relevant and memorable customer experiences. In this new environment, closed deals rely less on charm and more on touchpoints that add value.
For example, one of our clients commissioned a Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) report about the ROI on their solution — a valuable asset for purchasing. They sent the report with a handwritten note to 150 high-value decision-makers. Finally, the team followed up with “thank you” coffee e-gift cards and an invitation to chat. The integrated multi-channel campaign was highly effective in generating pipeline revenue because it made a strong impression with creative effort. Mailing the report, rather than sending it in an email blast, got buyers’ attention. The handwritten note and gift card showed added effort.
How companies engage with their audiences says more about their brand than anything else.
2. Commit to being a responsible business.
The global health crisis coupled with growing consumer awareness and activism has made corporate social responsibility more important in our current business environment. Customers, both B2C and B2B, want to support businesses that are doing their part to make the world a better place.
In our study, 84% of revenue leaders who publicly addressed issues like the public health crisis, Black Lives Matter and voting rights received a positive response from their customers. Buyers now evaluate factors like sustainability, ethical sourcing and internal DEI efforts when selecting products and services.
According to research from 2017, 87% of B2B buyers will purchase a product because the company supported an issue they care about. Another 76% refuse to buy from a company if it supports an issue contrary to their beliefs.
Revenue-generating professionals can connect with customers in ways that show their commitment to doing good. Tactics like donating to an organization on behalf of a customer, sourcing from minority-owned businesses or committing to a carbon-neutral impact can capture buyers’ attention and also make a positive impact.
3. Leverage technology to personalize the buyer journey.
McKinsey & Company found only about 20% of B2B buyers want to return to in-person sales. The companies that succeed will be those that provide excellent, personalized digital experiences.
Today’s buyers expect their experiences to be frictionless, relevant and connected. CRM software, customer enablement solutions, chatbots, sending platforms and marketing automation software can help revenue-generating teams streamline and personalize outreach at scale — while preventing data silos.
CRM solutions can help keep track of first-party customer data so your team can see the full buyer’s journey and make notes of important details. Some solutions and platforms integrate with tools like Salesforce, allowing you to keep track of important data or send items directly from your contacts to build lasting customer relationships. For example, knowing a customer’s work anniversary and celebrating it by sending a handwritten note or even a box of cookies or a bottle of wine can help strengthen their connection to your brand.
Success depends on seeing the human behind the buyer.
Regardless of the channel you use, it is important to remember there is always a person at the other end. Human-to-human ultimately means understanding the values and priorities of that person — and acting on that knowledge with meaningful, creative touchpoints.
Personalizing the customer lifecycle, investing in your values and leaning on technology can set your brand apart. The future of effective B2B outreach depends on the ability to create human connections with the people that are important to your organization. – Kris Rudeegraap