Insider Perspective

Leveraging Marketing Technology without losing the Human Connection

Technological developments have always shaped the business, sales and marketing environments. First came the telephone, then the computer and later, the internet – all changing the commercial landscape forever. But recently, the pace of technological change has accelerated rapidly, prompting companies across all industries to put digital transformation front and centre of their business strategies.

In 2017, digital transformation is about remaining relevant in a market that is increasingly evolving in response to new technologies and tools. Whether you’re operating B2B or B2C, digital and mobile are constantly changing the way that your prospects and clients communicate, gather intelligence, conduct business and view the world. In this context, businesses – and their sales and marketing specialists – need to be on these digital platforms too.

Today’s prospects and customers want better service, more personalised and relevant solutions, and more value for their time and money. By harnessing the power of digital technologies, businesses can become more efficient at meeting these expectations. However, too much efficiency can come at the expense of building real, personal connections with the people you want to do business with.

So, how can sales and marketing teams leverage digital technologies to optimise their resources and achieve more in less time, without affecting their ability to nurture lasting and loyal customer relationships?

Marketing automation and predictive analytics

Automation tools can help marketing teams to optimise resources and streamline efforts when acquiring and nurturing leads. This technology is built to handle repetitive tasks, such as scheduling and delivering marketing content including digital newsletters, webinars, podcasts, videos, social media campaigns and more. It can also play a useful role in rudimentary lead qualification, where prospects are automatically scored based on pre-set criteria, such as number of clicks, industry sector, behaviour on the digital channels and so forth.

Additionally, marketers can use predictive analytics tools that gather and analyse data on user behaviour across the various digital platforms (i.e. who participated in a user trial, who downloaded a whitepaper, who deleted an email, and so forth) to help create prospect profiles. Using these profiles, marketers can then create personalised, automated responses and send these out to each prospect category.

Predictive analytics tools can, to a certain extent, help marketers to forecast what prospects and clients are likely to do next; and even gauge their propensity to buy. However, these tools are not a complete solution – especially in the B2B environment, where demand generation is neither a linear nor a logical process. Leads can move up and down the funnel in unpredictable ways. Lead nurturing is therefore not a task that can be managed by automation technology and predictive analytics tools alone. It also requires human skills such as making judgement calls or picking up the phone to chat to a prospect and discover the nuances of their decision-making process, for example.

RPA technology with AI capabilities

One of the latest advancements in digital technology is robotic process automation (RPA) software. Software ‘bots’ are configured to automate the types of tasks that humans would usually do, with the aim of increasing efficiency levels, curbing costs and increasing accuracy. The types of jobs that you could delegate to a bot include those that are rules-based, repetitive and digitally-driven, such as populating a database, collating information in a report or monitoring adverts.

In the sales and marketing environment, the types of bots that are getting everyone excited are chatbots. These AI-powered bots operate on the interfaces of popular messaging platforms, where many customers spend a significant portion of their time. In these platforms, chatbots can answer questions, fetch information and issue reminders, enabling companies to communicate 24/7/365 with customers and prospects. This eases the pressure on sales and marketing agents, freeing up their time to handle the more complex cases which require empathy, judgement and other uniquely human abilities that bots are unable to emulate.

Bots have their limits

At present, RPA technology is more applicable to inbound marketing and reactive, customer service functions in consumer-facing environments like banking, retail and e-commerce. Bots are not (yet) capable of proactively supporting outbound sales and marketing activities in the B2B space.

A study by business messaging solutions provider LivePerson revealed that 56% of respondents worldwide would rather speak to a human, even if they had to wait for a short period of time, than chat with a bot immediately. Many believe that a human would understand what they need better than a bot.

What is more, trying to develop chatbot conversation to the point where it is indistinguishable from human communication may seem desirable but risks leading people into the so-called “uncanny valley”. This is the uncomfortable response which arises when consumers think they’re chatting to a real human being but realise that they’re interacting with a software application; this alienates and risks a negative impact on consumer trust and loyalty.

There is still a long way to go before chatbots are capable of organic conversation, but the ideal is not to replace human interaction within the sales and marketing process but to apply technology in a way that brings the distinct value of the human touch to the fore. B2B relationships in particular are complex and human agents are required to manage the process and nurture prospects through the entire customer journey.

Creating a synergy between digital and human interaction

Digital technology brings many benefits to sales and marketing teams in a range of industries – with one of the chief advantages being its ability to free up human resources to be applied where they add the most value.

Today’s marketing professionals can delegate the repetitive, time-consuming (and often mind-numbing) tasks to automation tools, carving out more time to focus on complex and strategic work. This helps to increase efficiency levels, as well as motivation levels, because skilled staff are given an opportunity to fulfil their potential instead of whiling away their working hours on mundane tasks. 

Digital-human collaboration is also called for when fine-tuning your market intelligence. Digital tools can mine reams of data relating to interactions on websites, mobile apps, social media and so forth; but it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective – this data is useful, but it does not paint a complete picture of your prospects. In a previous article we looked at the danger of a ‘data-driven reality’. Telephone research can validate the intelligence gleaned from patterns within your ‘big data’ and help you understand the reality behind the numbers.

Similarly, when leads come in from your various marketing channels (digital content downloads, webinars, email marketing, etc.), these are still too ‘raw’ to send directly on the sales team. Early inbound digital leads don’t include deep insight into the prospects’ agendas and interests – this requires human qualification.

The value of including telemarketing in the mix

Telemarketing can augment your market intelligence and qualify your early inbound leads thoroughly through real conversations with your prospects that unearth the more nuanced insights you need to fully understand their priorities, needs, challenges, interests, goals and unique decision-making environments.

In the B2B world, it takes time to nurture a relationship with a prospect and get them to a point where they are ready to buy. It is not possible to achieve this complex process through digital technology alone. Having a skilled team of telemarketers to follow up on potential leads, ask the right questions, and engage customers in meaningful conversations adds tremendous value to your marketing and sales efforts.

An experienced telemarketer will know how to take your sales proposition, position it with your audience and then talk knowledgeably and confidently about the subject. Telemarketing is a real-time conversation, which means that as the agent understands more about each prospect, your proposition can be tailored on the fly to better meet their expectations. Agents also use emotional intelligence to understand the motivating factors behind a prospect’s behaviour, picking up on buying signals that identify those clients who are ready to buy and those who still need nurturing.

Once telemarketing has identified the leads that are not ready to be sent to sales, this knowledge can then be fed back into the digital tools that continue to nurture these individuals with relevant and personalised content to keep them engaged until they are ready to buy.

This is a multi-faceted process that can’t be achieved through one channel alone – but requires a carefully planned mix of technology and human contact that plays to the strengths of each channel to create a powerful sales and marketing platform.

Concluding thoughts

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that every business sells to people, no matter whether they’re operating B2C or B2B; and every sales and marketing strategy needs to guard against an overreliance on digital technologies at the expense of losing the human connection with prospects and customers.

When planning your sales and marketing strategy, capitalise on the value that dialogue brings to the digital experience. A well-planned phone call can cut through the digital noise and help you build a true understanding of your customer’s interests. With this valuable insight, you can provide an authentic, personal and relevant customer experience across all channels.

Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Related articles

Modern marketing - between a rock and a hard place?

Modern marketing - between a rock and a hard place?

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Find out more
Lose the language barrier: the value of multilingual marketing

Lose the language barrier: the value of multilingual marketing

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Find out more
Marketing in a post-GDPR world: what’s changed?

Marketing in a post-GDPR world: what’s changed?

Friday, August 2, 2019
Find out more

Our full range of telephone services

Data Services

Do you want to improve data quality, increase marketing ROI, and ensure GDPR compliance?

Data Cleansing
Data Cleansing
Expert data cleansing creates clean, accurate and compliant data that matches your target audience
Read more
Data Enrichment
Data Enrichment
Data enrichment delivers the insight needed to connect better with your target audience
Read more
Email Opt-ins: GDPR
Email Opt-ins: GDPR
Boost engagement and ROI with consent based communications
Read more

Pre Sales Research

Do you need actionable insight to inform your sales and marketing strategy?

Pre Sales Research
Pre Sales Research
Arm your sales and marketing teams with clear customer intelligence and accurate data.
Read more

Telemarketing

Want more opportunities to drive revenue?

Lead Generation
Lead Generation
High-quality lead generation at every stage of the customer journey
Read more
Call Handling
Call Handling
Professional outsourced customer service. We can provide your customers with an expert, personalised service – making every interaction count
Read more
Appointment Setting
Appointment Setting
Successful appointment setting requires meaningful human interaction with senior decision makers
Read more
Lead Management
Lead Management
Drive value by improving lead flow, quality and conversion
Read more
Event Marketing
Event Marketing
Strategic event marketing can generate higher demand and deliver greater value.
Read more
Lead Qualification / Nurture
Lead Qualification / Nurture
Move leads through the funnel more strategically with our expert lead qualification and lead nurturing services
Read more

Sales

Is your sales strategy driving the results you need?

Telesales / Inside Sales
Telesales / Inside Sales
The quality of your Inside Sales skills can be a key differentiator in a competitive market.
Read more
Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing
Smart account based marketing helps to increase profitability, reverse churn and increase customer lifetime value.
Read more

Post Sales Research

Is your customer intelligence keeping pace with your business goals?

Welcome Calls
Welcome Calls
An effective welcome call helps to create a foundation for a lasting relationship. Retaining customers costs less than acquiring them, so it makes sense to have a robust retention strategy in place – starting as soon as a prospect is converted.
Read more
Customer Satisfaction
Customer Satisfaction
Measure customer satisfaction and gain a more nuanced view of your customers’ experiences through phone-based surveys.
Read more
Treating Customers Fairly / Compliance
Treating Customers Fairly / Compliance
An FCA authorised and regulated business, our expert team can help you meet your TCF compliance needs with greater confidence and increased customer insight.
Read more