The following is a guest contributed post from Loren Padelford, Skura‘s Executive Vice President of Sales.
Today, the B2B buying process begins when prospects access a company’s website, mobile app, blog, whitepaper, or attends a hosted webinar. Technology adoption among consumers has picked up pace and because of this, marketers have had to adjust their lead generation and engagement tactics to target the buyer earlier on in the sales process.
As a result of reduced interaction during the early stages of the buying process, businesses today gain less direct feedback regarding customer wants and needs. Unfortunately, with the onslaught of available information online, that feedback is more integral than ever to address individual customer needs and problems.
Let’s dive into how today’s sales reps and marketing teams can go beyond direct feedback to accurately target the right types of people, identify their wants and needs, and delivery targeted and compelling sales pitches.
Create Customer Personas
A recent eMarketer study cited targeting content as a top priority for 47% of savvy companies and creating customer personas and bucketing your prospects into categories based on their behaviors can allow you to anticipate needs and effectively target buyers with your content. Unfortunately, many companies will develop customer personas early in their branding and messaging processes only to forget all about them when it comes to the sales process.
Understanding your buyer persona is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention. Establishing customer personas helps you develop better leads and build better products and features to suit customer needs—and you’ll be more likely to keep customers for the long haul if your products and services grow and change with your customers.
Track Customer Behavior
Creating personas is a good start, but to transition from inferring your customers’ needs to truly knowing their needs, it is necessary to observe their actual behavior. This direct observation can be accomplished before the sales call by gathering data about the prospect on social media and identifying what types of information they share across channels. During the sales call, sales reps should be keeping track of which content resonates the most and must seize the opportunity to solicit direct feedback.
But the complete picture of your customer can only come into focus after the sales call—by monitoring customer engagement across all devices with the digital content you leave behind. This includes analytics that tell you where your customers are clicking, what mobile devices they are using to find content, with which pieces of content they are engaging, for how long, how often, with whom they share that content, and so on. Once you have this level of information, you will not only understand your customer’s current needs but will be able to predict future needs, hone your content accordingly, and confidently plan your next approach.
Be Their Concierge
In essence, a salesperson is a concierge – an accommodating facilitator floating between customers and products/services with the primary goal of satisfying the customer with the right materials delivered via the channel of their preference. Gartner likens this approach to the difference between a concierge and an influencer. An influencer walks into an office and tries to push a message; a concierge asks what someone needs, then tries to sway his or her opinion based upon expertise.
Now that you know your customers’ pain points and interests, you can focus on addressing them. By trying to solve a problem, rather than simply pushing your product, you’re adding value and building loyalty by “playing the long game” — this approach results in a better customer experience, increased loyalty, and ultimately more sales over the lifetime of the relationship.
Keep Your Content Fresh
One of the best ways to both gain initial leads and ultimately address your customers’ most pressing problems is to have fresh, relevant content. When sales and marketing are aligned, the sales team can feed information back to the marketing team from the field using adaptive sales enablement methods, allowing marketing to hone sales content according to observed customer needs, down to the individual level. When your content is regularly fine-tuned to meet changing customer needs, it not only ensures that it is up-to-date and compliant; it also maximizes impact.
When sales and marketing teams are armed with information that helps them understand the buyer, they are able to create truly compelling content and offers and deliver them in the manner and via the device that is most relevant. The paths toward gaining this level of understanding are changing but the knowledge businesses can achieve today is greater than ever before.