24 March 2017 Category: Blog
We live in an age where almost all stages of the sales and marketing process can be digitised and automated – and indeed many businesses are taking that approach. However, in a world where 76%* of people prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels, the personal touch can be a strong differentiator for your business.
The digital-only model doesn’t tick every box
With the level of online noise that now exists, 41% of people feel overwhelmed by digital content, 52% have switched providers in the past year because of a lack of offline options; your customers could be some of those ready to vote with their feet. Whilst digital channels can be extremely valuable for your business, integrating a human approach in your sales and marketing mix can make all the difference in winning and retaining customers, and help you to rise above the competition.
…and doesn’t fit today’s buying process
Targeted digital messaging may be a good way to initially introduce potential prospects to your business, and the digital space is likely to be where they are looking for businesses like yours, so making your offering visible and attractive to searchers is vital. Equally, when a customer is still in discovery mode and the early stages of their journey, they are likely to prefer digital channels to gather research and source opinions and reviews. Once they feel confident about their requirements and possible partners or suppliers, they are much more likely to want to speak to a human being to fully understand their options and identify which solution and which supplier is the best fit.
There are a number of important factors that can’t be assessed via automated digital channels, such as the particular needs of each prospect’s business, the decision-making process within their organisation, and their current readiness to make a purchase. The digital age has impacted the marketing environment for both customer and marketer in a number of ways. Automation has both aided and compounded the ability to create high volumes of personalised content in order to draw early stage leads, but the challenge of creating a relevant and consistent positive customer experience across a growing number of channels and devices remains. This can lead to an anonymous, distant relationship that is growing less and less ideal in the current marketing world.
A conversation with a real person is the best way to build understanding and qualify what steps to take next with an individual on the path to purchase. For this personal stage of the process, it is important to have a sales team that can bring the human element of your organisation to life. They need to be able to convey the values of your business and understand the needs of your prospects in order to establish a rapport and give your customers what they need; a personalised experience and a proposition tailored to the specific outcomes they want to achieve.
Multi-channel sales campaigns have been shown to be more effective than those that use just one channel, and, since it takes an average of 7 touches for a lead to make a purchase decision, it is vital to understand your customers’ buying journey and to align your channels and messaging accordingly.
Keep ahead of the game
As we previously discussed, data plays an important role in supporting a personalised and relevant customer experience across your marketing channels. With the GDPR data regulations coming into effect in May 2018, it will be more important than ever to maintain clean, up-to-date, opted-in customer data. Speaking to your customers and prospects over the phone, not only helps keep their data fresh but provides the perfect opportunity to gain their trust, capture consent and ensure communications are tailored to their preferences.
Going forward, this will have a lasting impact on your relationship with your customers – their increased level of control over what communications they receive will mean that marketing messages are more welcome and you can build a stronger rapport with those prospects who do give their consent.
At the end of the day, we’re all human
The bottom line is that the personal approach works – almost 90% of marketing managers say that follow-up phone calls are effective lead nurturing tools.
A personal element to your sales and marketing mix can help you:
- Understand your customers better
- Nurture customer relationships
- Ask and answer vital questions
- Convey the values of your business
- Cleanse and maintain your data
- Convert your leads!
When it comes to making purchase decisions, customers prefer to have a human voice to guide them through the process, answer their questions and help to reassure them that they are making the correct decision. 46% are more willing to be sold to via human interaction than by digital channels, and research from the retail sector shows that consumers spend four times more when they have input from both human beings and digital channels – so employing a good mix of both is likely to benefit B2B sales too!