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Decision-makers are smarter than ever and enter the buying process equipped with knowledge about exactly what pains they are feeling and what solutions they are seeking out. In fact, CEB reports “Customers are already 57% through the purchase process before they approach a supplier.” This means when buyers do begin outreach to vendors, they are further along in the process than most sellers even realize. And oftentimes sellers come up short when attempting to connect with buyers.

Meeting the needs of well-informed buyers requires a deep understanding of the problems they are facing and a level of preparation beyond a cursory brush-up. Buyers themselves believe sellers don’t do their homework. 82% of decision-makers think sellers aren’t prepared for meetings, according to SiriusDecisions.

There are a few reasons a buyer might think a seller is unprepared and fail the buyer. First, the seller might not have access to the latest information on the organization and be unaware of current changes or initiatives the company is going through. A proper sales communication strategy supported with a sales communication tool is the best method for keeping sellers up-to-date about these topics.

The second way decision-makers may feel a seller is unprepared is a lack of understanding their buyer’s journey up to that point. Without knowing what content a buyer has engaged with, and the types of information has resonated with them so far, sellers lose the opportunity to continue the momentum of previous engagements. Content engagement analytics and using a solution to bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing keeps sellers prepared in these situations.

And finally, perhaps most importantly, if sellers do not come prepared with personalized content then buyers will think they are not prepared. This reason really encompasses the other two—sellers that are up-to-date on organizational information and are aware of previous engagements will be able to create personalized content that speaks directly to the buyer’s needs. If a presentation or a piece of collateral does not speak directly to the buyer’s needs—especially if they’ve already communicated those needs through previous actions—they are less likely to engage with sellers or feel like the solution can meet their needs.

Personalized content is one of the most effective tools that both sellers and marketers can leverage. Deploying personalized content on a large scale and in an effective manner is a legitimate challenge, however. Marketing needs to ensure brand integrity in all content, Sales needs to just plug in the necessary information and not worry about design, and this all needs to happen in a timely fashion. It’s necessary to implement a solution that meets all of these challenges because personalized content solves many of the ways sellers fail buyers.

Organizations are realizing the importance of personalized content and beginning to shift resources to meet the challenge. The Aberdeen Group reports 45% of best-in-class companies prioritize improving the personalization of sales conversations. The focus on personalized content will pay off in the long run according to Gartner; they report that by 2018 personalization will bring 30% higher close rates.

Sellers now face a difficult challenge of attempting to sell to buyer’s who are more prepared than ever and know exactly what they want. Failing to be up-to-date about key information in their organization, not being aware of previous engagement, and not providing personalized content are three key ways that sellers fail their buyers.