Personalizing Sales Experience to Build & Accelerate Pipeline

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Personalization is one of the hottest trends in the world of sales. 2020 has changed the world, which, inevitably, affected buyer behavior. 

According to SalesCycle, businesses that create personalized experiences for their customers enjoy an average increase of 56% in sales.

 

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If a couple of years ago, the customer experience personalization could be a nice little addition to your overall sales strategy, today, it lays out the foundation of it. The one-to-many approach that could bring some positive results in the past, is no longer deemed effective. Personalization in sales is the only approach that allows building a sales pipeline, creates opportunities, and accelerates the stage-to-stage conversion rate.

However, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Even though sales personalization is steaming hot, only 12% of professionals are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the level of personalization in their efforts, while 38% are “moderately” satisfied. 

To truly master the art of sales personalization, you need to know the evergreen strategies and tips. In this article, I’m going to share the ones that we implement at NetHunt and what works well for us.

 

Let the Lead Be In Control of Your Communication

One of the things that a lot of businesses fail to understand is that the customer journey starts way before the customer makes a purchase or even schedules a demo call with one of the sales reps. 

Сustomers no longer need to speak to sales representatives directly to make a judgment about the business they’re interested in. They can easily form an opinion based on an array of other things such as the online persona of the business, customer reviews available on the internet, and the quality of lead nurturing activities the business in question employs. In fact, according to a study conducted by SiriusDecisions, over 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales. 

This is why, every instance of your communication with the lead acts as a brick that lays out the foundation for the overall customer experience. Therefore, you need to start personalizing your sales efforts early. 

One of the best ways to show your leads that you are adept at taking a personalized approach to every customer is by letting them decide the form your future communication will take. You can easily arrange this by including a link to the subscription preference centre in your welcome email sequence (and if you want to stay considerate – in every subsequent email campaign, too, so that your leads had an opportunity to change their preferences at any time). 

To make the customer journey more enjoyable and better suited to the specific lead, you can ask them the following:

  • how often they want to hear from you (the frequency can vary depending on the length of the sales cycle and the nature of your business, with the most popular options being weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly);
  • specific days and even times of the day when they’d want to receive your emails;
  • types of content they’d be interested in receiving (product recommendations, newsletters, promotional emails, discount alerts, etc.);
  • what kind of 1-to-1 communication channels are the most convenient for them;
  • whether or not to pause and unsubscribe from your business email list for a set amount of time.

All these criteria will help you better understand the intentions of your leads and make your outreach more timely, expected and, therefore, significantly more effective. 

 

Customize Onboarding and Customer Journey Experience

While establishing the comfortable emailing frequency and the topics your leads want you to cover in your digital communications are a great way to start the personalization process, there’s still much more to it. 

You need to ensure that your lead nurturing activities are relevant to the specific lead you’re trying to nudge towards taking the desired action. In order to do that, you need to get to know your client by answering a few essential questions before the first in-person interaction.

Here are the questions that our Sales team uses to figure out more information about the potential clients before the first demo call. It helps us to think through the flow of the demo call, set a list of the functionality to showcase and determine the ‘language to speak’. As a result, we see a massive acceleration of the demo call results. 

Of course, this list of questions is specific to my company, and you can adjust them to make sure they fit your industry and business model:

  • Which industry are they in, and what product or service do they provide?
  • Which other tools are currently in their tech stack?
  • How many people are there in their company?
  • Which departments will be using the product?
  • What outcomes do they expect to achieve with our product and what jobs-to-be-done are there?

Pro Tip: Pay close attention to the last question! In 2021, sales shifts towards enabling customer success. That’s why instead of focusing on your customer’s problems, you should focus on the jobs-to-be-done. There’s nothing better for increasing sales than ensuring that your product fits well into the customer’s daily routine and helps them to achieve better results in their daily jobs. By marrying your product’s features with the customer’s needs, you provide them with a real value and increase product stickiness, which, in turn, minimizes customer churn. 

  • Customize sales enablements and let them be your kingpin. If you want to accelerate your sales pipeline, you need to continuously nurture your leads. One way to do this is by creating and disseminating sales enablements – different content that prompts leads to convert. Customize it based on the stage of the customer journey. For example, leads that are at the top of the sales funnel would appreciate less forceful content such as a helpful blog post or a YouTube video with some elements of pre-boarding to reflect on the issues that your lead faces at the moment. At the same time, the bottom of the funnel leads would benefit more from a case study with testimony from an existing customer from their industry or similar use-case, and an in-depth comparison of your offer with similar products. 
  • Stop trying to sell during your first demo. While it does sound counterintuitive and even somewhat counter-logical, it’s actually a working strategy. In 2021, customers no longer want to be harassed with overly promotional offers – they know better and can spot a sales rep that is just trying to meet their quota from a mile away. Being too pushy at your demos and trying to showcase each and every feature and button of your product can scare away your potential customer. Instead, you should prove to them that you genuinely care about their success and that your product can help them achieve their goals. Focus on the specific issues that bother your leads and demonstrate the exact features of your solution that can help them overcome those. 
 

Go Beyond Transactional Communication – Build a Relationship with Your Customers

Even the most skilled and successful sales reps sometimes don’t succeed at closing the deal on the first try. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to give up. Even if you don’t manage to sell during the first round of negotiations and the lead steps away from your business, you need to ensure your business is the first one that pops up in their mind when the need for your product arises. 

To stay at the top of their mind at all times, you need to make sure you build a robust relationship and extend your communication beyond being merely transactional. They will remember you for your attitude and relations. 

There are several things that your business needs to do in order for them to remember you as a source of useful and actionable business advice, and a trustworthy vendor:

  • Make sure to share valuable and relevant information with your leads, and do so consistently. It’s vital for you to regularly provide pieces of content that establish you as a thought leader and a reliable business that offers a solution to real problems. If you want your leads to remember you and the products you offer, you need to regularly pop up. It’s best to enable email marketing automation. When you set up a drip campaign, you can be sure that your leads are hearing from you regularly without having to worry to remember to reach out to them. Just make sure that your emails don’t sound robotic. You don’t want to lose that human touch and let the recipients think they were sent automatically. Make those emails look and feel personal!

Pro Tip: Do not send automated emails often. Instead, be timely and highly-relevant. This kind of email is perfect to remind of yourself without sounding transactional: 

Hello {Name}, 

We, at {Your Company Name} just launched in integration with {Platform Name}. It helps to {increase conversational experience for users and enhance personalization}. I remember you mentioned that you missed this in our product.

I will appreciate it if you could have a look and share your expert feedback on this functionality. 

Please, let me know if you need a test account. 

Best regards.

  • Implement social listening. Similarly, you need to further deepen your bond by being where your leads are – on social media. Expand your network by adding potential buyers to your connections, interact with their posts and share relevant content that might be interesting for your network. Alternatively, monitor social media to spot the topics within your fields of expertise and join conversations. 
  • Adopt omnichannel conversational customer experience. With the internet developing so rapidly, there are now thousands of different ways in which people can connect with each other. You can use email communication, or employ a chatbot on the website, or even use LinkedIn InMails. It’s your job to guarantee that regardless of the platform they choose, you can always pick up from where you left off the last time. You can do this by choosing proper tools that aggregate communication from various chats into a single space.
 

Be on Your Customer’s Side and Always Have Their Back

It’s not enough to simply establish a connection with your customers once and call it a day. Just like with any other relationship, in order to maintain it, you need to be constantly working on it. The only way to truly personalize your clients’ customer experience and turn them into loyal brand ambassadors, you need to always be there for them and always have their back.  

Even after your client has already made a purchase, you still need to carry on with customer experience personalization to make sure they stay with your brand for longer. Here are a couple of actionable tips from our experience:

  • Opt for Customer Success model. We’ve implemented a customer success approach at NetHunt and see fruitful results in a low churn rate and an increased Net Promoter Score. This strategy implies proactive communication with customers instead of only dealing with them once they’re angry. 
  • Schedule regular assessment calls with the clients to make sure they’re seeing the desired results and your product meets their initial expectations. Considering that product users don’t always read your release emails, you can use these calls as an opportunity to showcase your recent product developments that can accelerate the client’s results. 
  • Never hide from your customers or potential leads. I’ve seen lots of websites that don’t provide any contact details, which makes it very difficult for potential buyers to reach out to the brand. They only can fill out the form and wait for ages to get the reply. At NetHunt, we leave our emails for quick and easy communication and even leave a Calendly link for the customers to book a call with us on the spot. You can only imagine how many kind words and actual leads we got due to the quick response time.

On top of that, you should also set up alerts and notifications to always be there for your clients before they get disengaged. If you see that they haven’t used your product in a while, drop them an email asking if they need any help. Something as simple as that can noticeably reduce customer churn. 

Pro Tip: Be fast! Nowadays, the competition in most of the industries and verticals is intense, so it’s not an option for your sales rep to wait for 2 days to reach out for the first time. Sales automation can save you here.

 

Align Sales and Marketing Teams

Obviously, the successful execution of all the aforementioned processes is impossible when it’s just one person dealing with them. To bring those to life, you need to get the whole team on the grind. Teamworks makes the dreamwork, am I right? 

To provide your clients with a holistic and enjoyable customer experience, you need to befriend your sales and marketing departments. Having shared knowledge of your audience, their needs and challenges would allow the marketing team to achieve product-channel fit. Meaning, they could create better-targeted content and distribute it via the right channels. In turn, the sales department gets more high-intent buyers on top of the sales pipeline. 

Luckily, in the era of technology, bringing the two departments together is easier than ever before. Here are some tips on how to unite your teams and get them to work towards achieving the same goals of personalizing sales experience:

  • Develop customer personas. When both sides of the collaboration understand exactly who they’re dealing with, the process of taking the right actions becomes much easier. You can tap into different sources for the relevant data: customer interviews, independent surveys, Google Analytics, CRM records, etc. 
  • Hold regular interdepartmental meetings. It helps a lot to report to each other about the progress your team has made so that everyone is on the same page and knows what they should focus on.
  • Don’t limit your communication to those meetings. While biweekly, weekly and even daily meetings are great, you need to be always available for each other. Start using team collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, Telegram, and Basecamp. You can create a lot of different channels dedicated to achieving different goals to keep things organized. Have a separate chat to share content ideas, discuss sales enablements, etc.
  • Get sales involved in content creation. By producing relevant content you can get relevant leads. For instance, crafting content based on the frequently asked questions the sales department gets can accelerate the sales pipeline. Which are 3 major complaints from customers? What do customers love most about our product/service?
  • Implement a CRM system. Although it’s quite an obvious move, I strongly recommend acting on this advice. It’s important for different teams to be on the same page and have a shared space to store customer data updates. A reliable CRM tool can not just help you with storing customer data but also bring your sales and marketing department together to always have relevant, up-to-date information to work with. It serves as a single source of true, accurate data as there’s no need to aggregate it from various databases, and it’s the best way to analyze the performance of every acquisition channel and calculate ROI because you can track every interaction with the lead – from the first outbound email or form submission to renewals. Having a CRM with accurate data leaves no space for guesses.

All in all, sales personalization is worth every second and penny you invest in it. When done correctly, it can skyrocket your revenue! So hop on this bandwagon before it’s too late.


Andrei Petrik is the CEO and co-founder of NetHunt CRM headshot

Andrei Petrik is the CEO and co-founder of NetHunt CRM. Having been in the industry for more than 12 years, he knows a thing or two about customer relations and business processes. When he’s not churning out code, he’s out on the water catching some fish.