Technology has allowed us to improve productivity in business dramatically and collect anything we want through big data analytics. With all of this information at our fingertips, we’re faced with a new problem – respecting consumer’s privacy while still giving them a personalized experience. That’s where creating meaningful connections through personal selling comes in – you don’t want to seem like you’re stalking your target audience but instead taking the time to build a meaningful relationship with them.
What Is Personal Selling?
Personal selling is a method that personalizes and humanizes the selling process to provide the customer with a solution through a business’s product or service. Previously, companies had to spend copious amounts of time researching and putting together buyer personas. The problem with this is that it requires a generalized guess about the customer’s preferences at scale, which is a very risky game to play. Now, we have access to capture and analyze customer data which allows us to segment them into different CRM (Customer Relationship Management) lists.
Why Should You Care About Personal Selling?
Sales automation isn’t always an effective option – according to recent research from 6Sense, nearly 99.6% of bulk emails go unopened. Creating meaningful connections has been a sales tactic used for decades. However, the number of businesses that have taken advantage of automated outreach has created a great deal of noise that is nearly impossible to breakthrough. Check out the below statistics on how businesses are overcoming this through personalization:
- Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates
- When an email is not personalized, 52% of customers say they’ll find somewhere else to go
- 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized
- Personalized homepage promotions influenced 85% of consumers to buy while personalized shopping cart recommendations influenced 92% of shoppers online
- More than half of consumers (57%) are okay with providing personal information (on a website) as long as it’s for their benefit and being used in responsible ways
- 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand
- 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization, with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%
- 63% of respondents are highly annoyed by the way brands to continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic ad messages repeatedly.
The Personal Selling Process
Consumers are smart, they know when you’re reiterating a rehearsed pitch to them. The best way to effectively personalize your sales process is by creating hyper-targeted lists of key accounts and executives. Instead of marketers devoting a ton of their time and money on brand awareness – they work with sales to identify key target accounts and work to move these accounts through the sales process. This is a form of ABM or account-based marketing which is a more narrowly focused take on B2B marketing. One of the biggest benefits to ABM is that it is based on a customer’s lifetime value (LTV) – not only will you close a deal from the start, but you also have the opportunity to upsell them throughout the customer lifecycle.
Understand Your Audience
With access to a wide variety of information on your key accounts and executives – it’s important to take the time to understand what they are looking for. A lot of times businesses jump the gun and skip this step, this can result in a lot of time and resources wasted. Research has shown that 82% of B2B buyers think sales reps are unprepared which generally leaves a negative impression on the prospect. There’s a fine line between telling the customer what they want and providing them with a personalized experience that shows them you understand what they want. One way to overcome this is by simply asking questions that lead to what the customer is looking for.
Provide Them Value
We’re all consumers, think back to your own experience with a salesperson – what did you like about their pitch? What did you hate? Apply your own experiences to better serve your prospects. Too often marketers and salespeople focus on making sure they articulate all of the key messages about the product or service that they end up turning the prospect off by coming off as too corporate. When you get to a face-to-face meeting take the time to be human – have a conversation about something you have in common or bring up an article you’ve found that relates to their business. The whole idea is to show your prospect that you are going to provide them value and not just meet your monthly sales quota.
Make It Memorable
Business deals don’t always get done in a boardroom – they can get done on the golf course, at a bar, after a sporting event, etc. The point is, you want to make your meeting special so that your prospect will remember and appreciate it. Taking time outside of the boardroom allows for you to keep things casual, while still making room for getting in key points. This sometimes also allows businesses to see how you think on your feet – which is a huge advantage as opposed to reading off of your PowerPoint. When you make your meeting memorable it shows you’ve taken the time to really understand their business and have the solution to their needs.
Don’t Forget Your Manners
Remember that when dealing with new potential clients you’re developing that relationship – it takes time. Don’t throw away all of the time and trust you’ve built by switching to a transactional mindset. The very essence of personal selling is treating your potential customers like people, not numbers. After a meeting send a thank you note or if you see an article that relates to their business share it with them. Show your prospect that you are interested in providing them value without overly-promoting your product or service. Showing that they are always top of mind, that you’re always thinking of them and their needs, will deepen your bond.
It can be difficult as a salesperson to keep up with trends while filtering through all of the digital noise. Remember that the best asset you have is yourself – use your own experiences as a consumer to perfect your pitch. Focus on providing value to your prospects and you’ll always come out on top!