When we shop online as consumers, we expect businesses to know who we are, our buying history and our personal preferences. We want orders fulfilled easily and quickly – as fast as the very same day. Our expectations have skyrocketed!
This is how we buy as consumers today – and it has now evolved to business-to-business (B2B).
If you are selling to a business today, customers have already read up on your company, reviewed all the choices and talked with your users. They expect to be served information that is relevant to their unique interests and needs.
Research findings reflect this growing trend. In a recent Harris poll, 88 percent of executive buyers responded that vendor outreach personalized to their company’s industry was absolutely essential. And despite the fact that 95 percent said that they’d be more likely to respond to personalized outreach, more than a third said that they never receive that personalization.
Businesses are waking up to this reality. Gartner Research shows that 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by next year.
To respond to and engage more effectively with today’s buyers, companies need to deliver a personalized customer experience that includes:
- Increased understanding
- A timely response
1. A foundation of trust
For businesses, the focus must be on helping rather than “selling.” In the “Age of the Empowered Customer,” businesses need to deliver more than pricing advantage or product knowledge. They must become trusted advisors and a valued source of information.
Relationships drive revenue, and trust is key to building relationships. At the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting this year, Vice Chairman Charlie Munger stated that “trust surpasses knowledge” as the #1 key to success.
2. Increased understanding
The most business value that organizations can provide to customers and the biggest competitive differentiator stem from increased understanding. Understanding is key to delivering a better customer experience – where businesses know a customer’s last interaction, how satisfied they were and what technology trends affect their business.
Gartner calls this “situational selling” and says that it helps companies have the right context to serve customers.
In a hyper-connected world, organizations can access more information about buyers than ever before. Deep engagement analytics reveal which buyers are most interested in a company’s product or services, so organizations zoom in on the right prospects. This benefits both company and customer alike. With analytics, companies can also see what interests customers the most, so they can tailor engagement to those interests.
With hyper connectivity, organizations can also see when products are deployed, when they’re in need of maintenance or when a customer is ready for renewal.
3. Response at the moment of need
Organizations need to respond to customer behaviors in real time. Up to 50 percent of sales go to the first responder! New analytics give organizations insight into how and when customers are engaging so they can respond at the right moment with the right information.
To respond at the moment of need, businesses need to be more involved earlier in the process. In order to connect with buyers, businesses should be on the social networks where buyers are learning about products and solutions.
With information instantly available at buyers’ fingertips, they have more knowledge about products and services, comparison pricing and competitive choices than ever before. They’ve become non-stop customers able to continuously evaluate their choices and easily switch the moment they find something better.
To keep ahead of the competition, businesses need to respond to buyers faster and with greater understanding about their interests, industry needs and pain points to personalize the experience.
Suresh Balasubramanian is CEO for LiveHive, Inc., whose sales acceleration platform automates sales follow-up to increase buyer engagement insights that power repeatable sales processes. Suresh is a seasoned software industry executive with more than 20 years of operations and senior management experience. Before LiveHive, Suresh served as CEO for Armor5 and GM worldwide at Adobe Software.