Why is personalization so difficult in B2B sales and marketing?

We know that personalization is critical to build trust and engage our customers. And there are a lot of tools and plenty of advice that help us personalize our interactions.

personalization - sales funnel

Yet, every time a salesperson or marketer  decides to do something, they struggle to really personalize. Let’s dissect that a bit.

 The bar is higher, but it is also anti-personalization

Till recently, basic personalization was expected. That was about including names in emails, showing relevant content on websites, and even showing relevant advertisements and recommendations on shopping carts. We did that with software automation. So someone who has downloaded a piece of content is now sent a sequence of emails that we believe are relevant to that person, designed to move them closer to a purchase. Similarly, we use re-targeting to show our advertisements all over the web to people who have viewed a product on our website.

By doing these things, we hope to catch them at the right point in their buying cycle so they are more likely to come to us. They may not be ready to buy right now, but one day they will be. And we hope to be there in their inbox or on the website they are on.

personalization at top of funnelSo this personalization is a better mousetrap – traditional mass marketing with better technology. It does not have too much context of why or when. It’s based on statistics and hope. Marketers face this reality every day, but they still make a lot of money.

It definitely works. So what’s the problem.

Mass personalization doesn’t work as well for expertise based B2B businesses

Brand awareness does count. So an agency selling analytics or digital capabilities would do well to be all over the web, and top of the inbox of their prospects. For this purpose email automation and re-targeting advertisements work very well.

But there is also the B2B sales funnel to cater to. The sales cycle is typically  several weeks or months long, and generally not based on impulse purchases. The automation techniques help with the top of the funnel but don’t do much to help with the middle of the funnel (answering questions and positioning) and bottom of the funnel (transaction closing). When we say expertise based B2B businesses, we mean coaches, consultants, agencies and services firms. All of these need context to build trust, so they can understand their customers’ pain areas and priorities. These are crucial elements to progress with the sales cycle instead of relying on blind outreach.

To satisfy these middle and bottom of the funnel personalization needs, we believe that building trust during the sales cycle is very important.

Let the customers try to do it on their own first – Become a partner, not just a one-way sales person

Most customers want to try themselves first. Any digital agency will agree that customers try SEO and content marketing themselves first. And when they realize they are in over their heads because it takes too much time and knowledge, only then do they turn to an external partner to help them. Same way for coaches (business or life) and any other services or management consultant. personalization - coaching

You have to let the customer try first. It is their struggle. Not yours.

But when customers are trying it out, you want to be there to help them and guide them. Otherwise you will have lost your pole position and become just one in a list of many possible agencies or coaches to ask for proposals.

A good way to becomes a partner is to lead with your biggest asset – your expertise.

Let’s face it. Every one wants to know how they are doing. By positioning an interactive assessment that helps customers benchmark their performance, it opens up a process of discovery. They are open to further discussions because the conversation has jumped from a product sale, to a needs and goals analysis. The sales process upgrades to a fit analysis, and milestone definition.

As the customers are trying it out, you are helping. And guess who they lean on when they realize they need external help. That’s where an interactive assessment from Evalinator comes in. It provides you with context for personalization in the middle and bottom stages of the sales cycle. It helps you become a partner in your customers’ journey.

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