The business-to-business sales spiral is a seductive metaphor, implying that a wide net of potential customers will somehow plummet into a sale as if gravitationally pulled there.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. Prospects can become stalled at any point in the sales process. They can also wiggle their way up and out of your sales spiral at any given time.

It’s often challenging to know exactly where a customer is in the spiral, particularly with a B2B model. With different touchpoints and considerations, a business client is far less transparent than a traditional customer. Moreover, the sales process is often long and complex. Put together, these qualities not only make it easy to overlook the need for a personalized approach to customer experiences, but they point to the importance of doing so. In a nutshell, that’s why a customer relationship management (CRM) integration like a Cisco Salesforce CTI, is critical.

Importance of Personalization in B2B Sales

It goes without saying that personalization is significant in any sales relationship. People want to feel that their money is well-spent. It takes more than a solid product or service to make them feel that way. However, it isn’t only in the traditional business-customer relationship that this plays out.

Evidence suggests that by the year 2020, there will be 33 billion Internet-connected devices around the world. That’s a rate of 4.3 devices per person. In turn, buyers are researching and learning about companies long before stepping into a store — both virtual and brick-and-mortar. In other words, customers and prospects are making decisions about vendors long before they even contact a sales representative. This makes personalization more challenging but all the more necessary in order to stand out among the competition.

Of course, it’s worthwhile asking whether such techniques help. However, according to the Aberdeen Group, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes.’ Businesses that utilize new technologies to increase personalization report a 21 percent stronger lead acceptance rate and 36 percent higher conversion rate than businesses who do not. Consider these facts as well:

  • In 2012, 78 percent of salespeople who used social media to tailor their conversations with CEOs outperformed their colleagues in sales;
  • Businesses that use differentiation see substantially higher revenue growth;
  • The average business sees a loss of 10 percent of its customers annually;
  • Sixty percent of customers will pay more for a better customer service experience;
  • Ninety percent of B2B executives plan to maintain or increase spending on customer experience;
  • Nearly 90 percent of executives believed that customer service will be their primary mode of competition by the end of 2016

The question now is: How can a B2B model facilitate a tailored customer experience?

Sales Techniques That Provide Context for Personalization

Computer-telephony integration

According to the Harvard Business Review, 90 percent of business decision-makers won’t respond to cold calls. The key to understanding this statistic can be found in the word ‘cold’. Decision-makers will respond to personalized phone calls. That’s where having an effective CTI system like a Salesforce Cisco CTI integration proves valuable. Such a program allows you to:

  • Respond to incoming leads immediately
  • Automatically log detailed notes about calls into the CTI system
  • Log any inbound or outbound phone calls
  • Have a ‘local presence (link to this blog)’ when making outbound calls

Customer relationship management system

With the myriad of options available to buyers, vendors must do something to be visible. Using a CRM system provides this opportunity. For instance, it allows you to track customer birthdays. You can then wish them well and entice them back to your store with a special offer for the occasion.

A CRM system also forms a communication framework so you’re in touch with customers and prospects periodically, thereby preventing the sense that you only contact customers when you want to sell them something. Stay in touch through emails to ask for feedback, offer discounts, and provide company updates.

Reward system

Any small gesture you can make to reward frequent customers will provide considerable payback. Identify loyal customers and reward them with discounts, coupons, giveaways — virtually anything that encourages a return visit. It’s easy to overlook those clients — who hopped aboard at the start of your business journey — as you chase new business. However, it’s critical that you don’t forget this important group.

Pulling it Together

Just as customers are able to educate themselves about products and services online, B2B buyers are behaving more and more like B2C buyers. As a result, companies need to establish stronger relationships and relevance early in the buyer journey.

With the increase of information available, salespeople can gauge where the customer is in the buying process, respond to customers at the moment of interest, and develop repeatable tactics.