With the rise of generative AI, the terms “hyper-personalization” or “personalization at scale” have been tossed around a lot. Yet, most salespeople would still add a few variables to an automated email or slightly change the visuals on your demo presentation and consider the job done.
And automated, easy-to-scale personalization techniques might work just fine for those of you dealing with high-velocity, low-ticket sales.
The teams selling complex products with longer sales cycles will need to develop more elaborate personalization strategies to really make an impact.
If you’re looking to improve your B2B buyer journey with effective personalization, this post will provide you with ideas and action items to get started. So, let’s dive in!
The role (and challenges) of personalization in complex B2B sales processes
Consumer brands like Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks are known for the personalized experiences they offer, from perfectly tailored product recommendations to optimized customer loyalty programs.
With B2B marketing and selling, personalization is usually considered important only at the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey, like prospecting. Later on, marketers and salespeople get too busy navigating the intricacies of the process and often fail to consider the individual needs and traits of each stakeholder. Which is a big mistake! And there are a few reasons for that.
- Personalization helps you build trust by demonstrating a deep understanding of the client's unique challenges and objectives. When decision-makers see that you've taken the time to tailor your approach to their specific needs, it enhances your credibility and positions your brand as a trusted advisor.
- Complex sales typically involve a few stakeholders, each with unique needs, challenges, and priorities. B2B personalization allows you to tailor your approach, messaging, and solutions to align with the specific requirements of each individual, significantly enhancing the relevance of your offering.
- Personalization helps speed up lengthy decision-making processes by addressing concerns and providing relevant information precisely when it's needed. This minimizes friction in the buyer's journey, streamlining the decision-making process and reducing the time to close deals.
- It allows you to create a smoother, more buyer-centric experience by anticipating customer expectations, addressing pain points, and proactively providing relevant information. This, in turn, positions your brand as not just a vendor but a strategic partner invested in your client's success.
- By adapting to the needs of your clients as they evolve, you increase customer loyalty the likelihood of repeat business and position yourself for upselling or cross-selling opportunities. As a result, B2B personalization allows you to increase your customer lifetime value that goes beyond individual transactions.
On top of that, personalization can also become a powerful differentiator, setting you apart from competitors in a crowded B2B landscape. As a result, business sellers should prioritize customization over automation. The good news is that they can afford it — with high-ticket deals, this approach quickly pays off.
But how exactly do you do that? Let’s talk about the ways personalization can improve your B2B buyer journey.
5 ways to level up your buyer journey with personalization
As mentioned above, effective personalization in B2B buyer journeys is not just about tweaking variables. It's about actively listening, understanding individual pain points, and crafting solutions that genuinely address the concerns of each stakeholder.
Here’s how you can implement this approach at each stage of your sales process.
B2B personalization starts long before you establish an actual connection with your buyers. First, you should know exactly who you should be connecting with. This is the case for targeted, account-based selling.
Simply put, you should identify your high-value accounts, get to know their pain points intimately, and tailor your messaging and engagement strategies to fit like a glove. So, instead of casting a wide net, you make a strategic effort to focus on those accounts with the highest potential for success, based on company size, industry, location, etc..
Account-based personalization can be used at various stages of your buyer’s journey, from highly relevant email campaigns that address the specific pain points of an account to customized demo experiences to showcase how the software can integrate with their existing workflows.
By focusing on a smaller group of accounts, B2B marketers can create more genuine, meaningful connections. In a world where resources are finite, this approach ensures that your team's efforts are optimized and concentrated where they can make the most significant impact.
Ever wish you could read your prospect's mind? Well, reading their intent signals is pretty close. This approach involves deciphering the digital “body language” — their online behaviors — of your prospects and using this information to tailor your engagement strategies.
So, instead of reactive outreach, intent-based engagement allows your team to proactively anticipate their needs and initiate meaningful interactions, while this level of customization elevates the impact of your communication.
For example, you can personalize your interactions with the prospects based on their social activity, content consumption, or event participation, etc. Or you can track intent signals from their companies in general, e.g., hiring, acquisition, expansion, etc.
Tailoring your engagement tactics based on prospect intent ensures that your messages are not just timely but highly relevant. And relying on data analytics rather than your gut feeling ensures informed decision-making. As a result, your engagement efforts are guided by insights, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of your interactions.
Once you start engaging with your prospective buyers, personalization gets even more important for successful outcomes. Now it’s all about the way they experience your product and their whole journey to purchase with you.
There are a few ways to make their journey a bit more memorable and personalized — from dynamically changing the website content using the prospect’s company info to personalized demo experiences that focus on their specific pain points.
To really “wow” today's B2B buyers, you can offer a hands-on experience with a personalized proof-of-concept project showcasing how your solution fits into your buyer’s current processes and tech stack. The purpose here is to show, not just tell, that you understand and can cater to your buyer's unique challenges and needs identified earlier.
So, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach and generic content, you offer a tailored solution designed just for this prospect. Regardless of the tactic you choose, such dynamic, personalized experiences would speak louder than words.
Aside from offering relevant content and experiences to your buyers, you should also be selective about the digital channels you use to communicate with them. While meeting your B2B buyers where they hang out at the lead generation stage is a no-brainer, most salespeople would just use email and occasional Zoom calls at the later stages.
Yet, emails and attachments can get lost, frequent calls are counterproductive (aside from being hard to schedule when dealing with multiple stakeholders). Keeping all involved parties on the same page over a few months of discovery and negotiations is no easy task, let alone making your communications with them feel personal. This is where a “digital sales room” might come in handy.
As the name suggests, this is a virtual environment that serves as a unified hub for all the communication, resources, and assets throughout the buyer's journey. As a result, tools like Flowla can help you remove misalignments, miscommunication, and friction from the B2B customer experience and move your deals forward faster.
Having a dedicated space for each account you’re talking to is a great way to make their buying journey feel more personal. After all, it’s not just for you to share personalized content, your buyers can interact with it by adding their comments, uploading their own documents, etc. This allows you to enhance collaboration and communication, supplementing (or even replacing) traditional face-to-face meetings that are essential to most B2B purchases.
Personalized action plans
Once you get past the main negotiations, you should be ready to make your customer experience with closing and onboarding just as smooth and personal. In this case, having a mutual action plan might be helpful to pinpoint key activities that move a deal toward the finish line.
While having a standard process to cover all the bases of the closing and onboarding process is good, being able to choose the best timing for each step is what can really set you apart from other B2B companies. It's all about being there at the right moment and guiding your buyers through with a personalized touch.
How do you do that? Again, by tracking certain behavioral signals. For example, sending a proposal to an opportunity that has been actively using your product during the trial or POC stage makes more sense than doing the same to the one who barely touched it. The latter might use a personal walk-through or even another qualification call.
So, being able to proactively tailor the steps on your mutual action plan to resonate with the prospect's specific needs and concerns is a great way to personalize the final stages of your buyer’s journey. The same approach can be applied to upsell to your current customers.
Getting started with buyer journey personalization
Now that we’ve covered some of the practical use cases for personalization throughout a B2B buyer journey, let's talk about specific steps to implement them. Here are some of the key steps to get you started.
- Get to know your audience. Dive deep into your target audience to develop buyer personas that capture the essence of your ideal clients. This is similar to creating a character in a novel — the portrait should be detailed, nuanced, and real. The more information you can get, the better.
- Understand your buyer’s journey, including all people and touchpoints involved. Having a precise customer journey map will help you plan your interactions with them in the best possible way. Consider also mapping the typical steps post-sale — your customer success journey. This will help you retain and effectively upsell to your clients.
- Pick the right tools. From sourcing prospect data or intent signals to dynamic content personalization or mutual action plans, there are dozens of tools that help with personalization. Yet, be considerate with your choice — make sure the tools work well together and are actually necessary.
- Build your strategy. Implementing personalization at every stage of your buyer journey is no easy task. It’s best to start slow and personalize separate aspects of your buyer experience one by one. If you have limited resources, you can go with the ones where most prospects seem to churn.
- Prioritize your marketing efforts. Unless you are targeting a small niche, it would be impossible to make every buyer’s journey truly personal. So it’s best to use different levels of personalization — make an extra effort with the most valuable accounts while using less sophisticated tactics with the rest of your prospects.
Wrapping up this guide, remember that personalization isn't a one-off action. It's a commitment to understanding and meeting the unique needs of your B2B buyers. It humanizes the often sterile world of B2B sales and allows you to establish a genuine connection, transforming faceless transactions into meaningful relationships.
So, let personalization be the secret sauce that sets your B2B sales strategy apart in a sea of automated emails and generic pitches.
Get started with Flowla today and transform your buyer journey with a personalized buyer experience that leaves a lasting impression.