How to Use Personalization to Improve B2B Sales

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Personalization led to more conversions for 43% of marketers, according to a recent CMO Council survey.

Improve B2B Sales

B2B marketing and sales teams tend to focus on lead quality; making sure the channels they’re using for lead gen are targeting the right audience for the right price. However, the way you reach out to a lead after one comes in can have a major impact on sales.  Personalizing that reach out is the key to improving your close rate.

Personalizing that first outreach can make the difference between a sale and a dead end.

Personalization is the new omni-channel for B2C retailers. Marketing Dive: “As omni-channel further cements itself as a baseline expectation for the shopper, marketers who want to take their efforts to the next level will want to refocus their efforts on personalized communications.”

When you personalize an offer you quadruple the likelihood a consumer will respond, according to a 2015 sentiment survey of 1,200 consumers by Autopilot. Other benefits of personalization include higher response and engagement rates, brand loyalty, repeat customers, amplified reach, and more relevance with today’s shoppers.

The easiest way to personalize your B2B outreach: Include information from the form.

You get a notification: Someone has filled out and submitted your lead form. What happens next? Does your sales rep send them a custom email, or does your software send them a generic automated email?

The answer should be neither.

Instead, savvy sales teams set up their software to send prospects who’ve filled out a form a custom automated email.

The email is customized automatically with information from the form. At the very, very least, you should be using the first name the prospect provided to personalize the email’s greeting.

But there’s so much more to personalize. Your email can be set up to automatically pull and include:

  • Fill out time
  • Referral source
  • Stated need

Obviously to include that information you have to be gathering it with your form or from your website data. While long forms can decrease conversion rates, much of this information gan be gathered automatically.  Things like time submitted, IP address, referral source, search query, etc. can all be pulled in from most landing page/marketing automation tools.  

There’s a good chance you’re not the only vendor your prospects are talking to.

It shows you respect their time and care about their needs when you personalize your communications with them from the get-go. It makes you stand out from the pack of bland, automated generic emails. People are trained to ignore mass emails. An email that feels hand-written gets your prospect’s attention, helps them feel heard, and makes them want to respond in kind.

Include your history.

Another bit of personalization you could add is some mention of your history with the prospect, if there is one. If they’ve ever bought from you, contacted customer service, filled out a form, or in any way communicated with your company, make mention of it. This will remind them of your relationship, making them feel more familiar and likely at ease. It also helps them feel that they’re not just a number to you.

Of course, this requires you have a good CRM or other system for capturing and accessing this historical data.  But more on that below.

Give them something useful for free.

To personalize communications, Autopilot recommends marketers “give your reader access to content and data that helps them find what they need more quickly.”

This can be as simple as adding a P.S. to your emails with a link to piece of useful content. For example, you can link them to a buying guide, pricing guide, white paper, or an upcoming webinar.

Make sure the look matches the tone.

There’s a look automatically generated emails have. Weird fonts, mismatched signatures, inline images all give away that an email isn’t handwritten. As much as possible, configure your software to send out emails that look like regular emails.

Avoid awkward wording situations.

Look for words put together by a machine, and you’ll find awkward combinations. Just ask the small business owner who spent $100,000 in six months advertising stripper poles but who sells flag poles. Or the children’s clothing store who unintentionally advertised “Babies For Sale Online.”

Watch out for mistakes that will immediately tip off readers that you’re using a robot, and that will make them feel your company doesn’t pay attention to details.

Here’s an example of awkward wording, for time, referral source, and stated need:

The highlighted words represent information your software can pull directly from the form and feed into your email.  

Dear Bill,

Thanks for inquiring about Capterra 9/28/15. I’m glad you were able to find us on www.facebook.com.

It sounds like you’re looking for a I need an iexpensive CRM for my growing business.

I’d love to talk to you about your needs soon. When are you free this week?

Thanks again,

Cathy

Here’s an example of a better-worded email:

Dear Bill,

Thanks for inquiring about Capterra today. I’m glad you were able to find us on Adwords.

You said you’re looking for “an inexpensive CRM for my growing business.

I’d love to talk to you about your needs soon. When are you free this week?

Thanks again,

Cathy

The differences are subtle, but have a profound impact.

Split-test, split-test, split-test.

Ultimately, the only way to know what works for your prospects is to run experiments and measure the results. You can start by comparing response rates for customized automated emails, custom handwritten emails, and fully automated, generic emails.

Make sure you have the tech.

If you don’t have the technical capability to split test emails, send automated emails, or customize your automated emails with information from your lead form, never fear. Capterra has software directories to help you find what you need, whether it’s email marketing software, marketing automation software, or CRM software.

Conclusion

B2B sales relies so heavily on reaching out to prospects in the right way. And the right way, increasingly, means with a personalized message. VB Insight reports a 5% lift in their main metrics for 87% of marketers currently using personalization tools.

Quality leads are expensive. According to Mintigo, 74% of marketers spend more than $50 per lead, and 5% spend more than $1,000.

Don’t waste sales opportunities by leaving value on the table. Your outreach strategy should be driven by data. With so many companies increasing their sales with personalization, it should be on your list of tactics to test.

Hopefully these tips will help make personalization work for you. What other tips would you include? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author

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Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a former Capterra analyst.

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