Getting Personal in B2B Sales
According to Gartner, personalization is “a process that creates a relevant, individualized interaction between two parties designed to enhance the experience of the recipient.” Simply put, personalization means tailoring an offer, a sales communication, or a buying experience based on information a company has obtained, learned, or derived about a prospect or customer.
With advances in technology and expanding channels, companies can now more readily target their communications and actions, thereby influencing end-user experiences. This targeting is based on information they learn about their prospects and customers through first-hand experience, most often through accumulating and leveraging data.
It might be said that personalization has become a presumption, even in the B2B market, where an individual’s B2C experiences create B2B expectations for tailored offers, quotes, and customized 1:1 communications, whether in person or online. In a recent survey of B2B and B2C marketers, more than 9 in 10 (92%) said their customers and prospects expect experiences that are individually tailored to them.
Setting the bar
Amazon's journey from a fledgling bookstore in 1994 to a titan of the tech industry that employs over a million people is well documented. This success has in large part been achieved by continuously rethinking every element of how business works, from its core business model to how customers choose to buy and engage to do business. Most of us are familiar with the prophetic, “fortune-teller-like” recommendations Amazon makes at checkout, which often just happen to be items we were inclined to purchase.
According to one enterprise strategist at Amazon, a key philosophy ingrained across the company is the idea of "working backward.” This means every innovation, every designed experience, every offer starts with the customer first. Teams then work backward, using all known data to identify the best/optimal solution. This is opposed to the status quo of starting with the idea or offer for a product or service and then trying to find customers who might accept it. The former enables a high degree of personalization - the latter might best be described as “throwing darts.”
Furthermore, a core competency for Amazon has always been the collection, aggregation, and exploitation of data. In fact, not only has the company built its core retail business around this competence, it’s also leveraged it into an enterprise which they market to other companies to give them similar capabilities. Amazon has built a thriving business out of mass personalization based on data and further enables other companies to do the same.
The blurring of the lines
One of the things omnichannel selling has created in B2B marketplaces is a requirement to treat customers equitably, yet individually, regardless of where and how they purchase … online or offline. Some customers may even buy through more than one channel at a time. While this can be good for business, it can also create challenges. It means B2B companies must increasingly arm sellers with the same insights that are being delivered online, whether they be pricing or sales recommendations such as the ones customers might receive at checkout on an eCommerce site.
Also, B2B customers are increasingly more informed. A consequence of the changing nature of B2B buying is that not only has access to information and choice increased but so too has the scrutiny involved in a typical purchase. The idea that information is king has benefitted both buyer and seller in B2B sales, where buyers are given increasingly greater choice and ability to discern the best product and price; while sellers are increasingly given more data and better tools to not only interpret but predict buyer behavior. This means that both the B2B buyer and seller stand to gain through a personalized approach to doing business.
Are you ready?
B2B companies must act now to stay in front of these trends and to be prepared to meet customers not just where they are, but also to anticipate where they expect them to be.
Some of the ways Zilliant is helping B2B manufacturers, distributors, and service companies is by providing them with data science and software-based solutions that deliver highly targeted and individualized pricing and sales insights for each customer. Further, Zilliant solutions go the extra mile in helping these companies to execute upon these insights.
The most recent addition to these capabilities is Zilliant’s Campaign Manager™ which enables B2B companies to direct very specific and highly targeted actions based on available data. Campaign Manager gives B2B companies the ability to scope and publish these individualized customer-specific actions from any Zilliant application, including Sales IQ™, Price IQ™, Price Manager™, Cart IQ™, SmartApps™ or upload user-defined custom actions. Insights may also be delivered to existing marketing automation, CRM, or other sales systems to execute personalized actions in omnichannel campaigns for each customer.