By Cameron Katoozi, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing
Sales outreach has become almost exclusively digitalized, as new software and process automation make lead generation efforts so much simpler. We see fewer cold calls and more email and social media interactions with prospects. This shift in outreach and lead generation has also changed our traditional idea of the Buyer’s Journey dramatically – for better or for worse. Although we have seen an increase in lead generation efforts, we are also seeing a decrease in personalization efforts, with some thinking that it is not necessary at all. Almost every step of the sales funnel can be automated to a certain degree, from adding prospects to the funnel, through a closed deal. This lack of human connection can be harmful, especially in the B2B landscape. Here are some benefits of keeping the human connection alive and why it’s a fundamental part of the buyer’s journey.
The need or desire for a B2C purchase is often more obvious than that of a B2B purchase. Buyers need more research and rationalization for a B2B product, and they don’t act on impulse like a B2C purchase could entail. Consumer purchases can act more on persuasion, which is a great opportunity for human contact in the process. With that logic, a B2B buyer should have a specific reason for buying. So why would human contact matter during more rational B2B purchases?
This is for several reasons. Any buyer will have much more peace of mind when they know there’s someone behind the brand that they can talk to vs a flashy website. Having an interpersonal relationship with the buyer is important, as B2B purchases are often more expensive and at a higher stake. Making the wrong purchase for a company can negatively affect its reputation, time, money, and resources. That’s why as a seller, developing that human interaction and relationship with a buyer can display you as more trustworthy while keeping the buyer at ease.
It would be senseless to not take advantage of the data and capabilities modern technology grants us with Marketing Automation platforms. Yet, we run into the issue of wanting to automate the whole outreach process, which can lead to surface-level, non-engaging messaging/conversations. Not all automation strategies have to be generic and cookie cutter. Automated emails can sometimes sound scripted and have no emotion behind the text. This makes it much harder to have a lasting impact on your prospects and diminishes your chances of building a long-standing business relationship. However, there are ways to make your automated messages sound more genuine and personalized. One way you can add that human connection is by sending prospects to dynamic landing pages based on their demographics or the content they interacted with previously. Seeing relevant content will help them have more trust in your brand and they will feel heard.
Similarly, your follow-up emails can be set up to mention content or resources the prospect interacted with recently. Email isn’t the only method of automation; LinkedIn has excellent ways to personalize automated messaging as well. Messaging automation lets you automate and personalize connection requests, follow up on campaigns, customize target audience lists, and more. Instead of automating the entire buyer’s journey, use the data marketing automation collects to strengthen and make your outreach more informed and personalized.
Wrapping it up
It’s critical that companies don’t get too caught up in the automations that are available and focus on the other aspects that are equally as important in lead generation. It’s also important to understand when an automated response is appropriate, vs when human interaction is necessary. For example, prospects may reach a point in your nurture campaign where they are showing interest and intent signals, and that may be a better time to switch to personalized demos and follow-ups. No automation currently can fully emulate or replace the element of human contact in a B2B buyer’s journey. This isn’t to say that there is plenty of opportunities to add that human element to your automation strategy, so buyers are more willing to engage, convert, and ultimately close deals. A balanced combination of human and machine lead generation is key for personalized and successful outreach.