Trending This Week: B2B Buyers Don’t Want Personalization, They Demand It

March 23, 2018

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B2B personalization is fast becoming the new normal, according to Altimeter Group principal analyst and author Brian Solis.

Last month at the B2B Marketing Exchange conference, Solis and several other presenters spoke about the ways personalized customer experiences in B2C channels have set a new mandate for B2B sales and marketing.

“Business buyers don’t go to work and forget what they do as humans. There’s a new normal that blurs the line between B2B and B2C. They just want things personalized. More successful companies are looking and prioritizing things like understanding customers’ evolving behaviors and preferences to design more meaningful engagement opportunities,” said Solis.

Justin Shriber, Vice President of Marketing for LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Solutions, explains in a Harvard Business Review article that “have it your way” consumer experiences have changed the selling dynamic for B2B:

“B2B buyers have been conditioned to expect the same personalized treatment that they get while shopping on Amazon. They want to be approached with relevant offers at the right moments, not when it’s convenient for a sales rep. They have little to no patience for ill-timed, generic pitches.”

The verdict is in. Smarter targeting and better understanding will help B2B sellers deliver greater personalization and relevancy expected by customers. Social selling is instrumental in achieving both objectives.

What Business Buyers Want

The demand for intuitive customer experiences may surprise you; 65% of business buyers say they’d switch brands if a company didn’t make efforts to personalize their communications. Given today’s level of empowered choice, buyer loyalty must be earned.

How Can B2B Companies Meet Buyer Expectations?

For companies committed to approaching customers as humans rather than accounts, real-time customer response and meaningful, personalized experiences will earn business and loyalty. By providing a seamless transition between the way things work in a buyer’s business and personal lives, a company can demonstrate a customer-first mindset.

Customer-first thinking translates to support, offers, and products that are appropriate to the buyer’s precise location on the path to purchase. The Salesforce report data shows 75% of business buyers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions by the year 2020. Meeting expectations requires a comprehensive view of the customer, fostered through owned and paid intelligence data as well as sales and marketing alignment. In this way, alignment benefits both customer and company alike, with 54% of sales and marketing pros citing collaboration as a booster of financial performance.

What it Means to Respond in Real-Time

Peter Mollins, former Vice President of Marketing at KnowledgeTree, makes this recommendation: “Reach out at the right time. Prioritize leads most likely to engage. How do you do that? By reaching out when they’re experiencing pain. If I’m thinking about the current pain, then you’d better be ready to call me right away, before the window closes. Understand the signals that indicate a change in my priorities — a security gap, a missed quarter or a new hire. Then, when you know the signals that matter, you can predict which prospects to prioritize, and know what to tell them.”

You have the power to educate prospects and help solve complex problems. Show value by proving you understand a prospect’s situation and are familiar with their real-time challenges.

Study B2C Companies to Get B2B Personalization Right

In his keynote at B2BMX, Solis encouraged the audience to let go of traditionally held beliefs about sales channels and how buyers approach buying decisions. “Reinvent every way you interact with customers. Think human-centered, not buyer-centered. Close the experience divide between how business buyers and consumers consider, evaluate, and purchase products and services.”

“Your business buyer is a different person because of consumer services like Uber.”

Learn more ways to build stronger relationships with customers and boost sales. Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog for ideas and tips you can use.