B2B Customer Acquisition: The role of human engagement in a world of digital-first enterprise marketing
We should acknowledge that personal relationships don’t always have to be built face to face.
Is there still a place for in-person sales in a digital first world?
Yes. I don’t think the practice of in-person sales will go away completely, and there will always be companies that find it essential for various reasons. For instance, larger corporations often find face to face meetings useful because it shows the vendor's commitment to the sales process and helps to build trust, especially when a member of the senior leadership team shows up.
However, personal relationships don’t always have to be built face to face, and digital tools can enable meaningful connections. For example, personal introductions that are made through email or otherwise can be really engaging and useful. You can contact an investor, who will reach out and introduce you to the CEO of a target company, who will then introduce you to the CMO, who can then introduce you to the VP who is ready to have a conversation. This string of introductions fueled entirely by personal relationships, even digitally, is a powerful way to get in front of a prospect.
Building trust and connections isn’t about noticing on Instagram that someone has a new cat.
Should enterprise sales teams invest more in virtual selling interactions and what should they be doing differently?
Millennials are definitely digital-first. However, when they’re negotiating a $100,000+ investment in a SaaS platform to solve a business problem, they will need guidance from a product expert. I believe human intervention will still be needed when purchasing technology that isn't self-service. But there needs to be a balance of digital and human interaction to enable these large investments.
Digital tools are obviously critical. I believe we will continue to see a bigger blend of traditional, alternative, and new channels. Businesses need to diversify their current digital outreach tools, leverage those tools in different ways, and introduce new digital channels into their sales outreach program. Each tech buyer purchases SaaS products differently, so you need to engage them with the tool or channel that works best for them.
One method that involves a hybrid model of human interaction and digital is the role of the Sales Development Representative (SDR). This role has evolved from the smile-and-dial model to one that requires methodical and careful research and analysis. Extensive research enables SDRs to send out highly personalised messages to target buyers, and we require SDRs to deliver personalised messaging through multiple channels based on their comprehensive research. They don’t simply refer to someone's job title or company, for example. That's basic. We look at and analyze many other factors about the individual prospect and their business goals, and combine this with information we've gathered in the past and conversations we've had with the company. All the facets of our research process are time consuming, but we've found ways to do this at scale so that the volume of outreach isn't materially diminished and the outcome is higher. In sum, building trust and strengthening a connection with a prospect isn’t about noticing on Instagram that they got a new cat. The approach must be thoughtful and show that you've done your homework on both the individual, the company, and the business.
How should B2B sales organisations respond to the shift towards a generation of buyers that are resistant to advertising but want entertainment?
We talk about entertainment but it’s really engagement that gets someone to take the next step in the buying process. Companies should offer digital tools that are gamified and interactive for buyers of all products. For example, at Revieve our tech enables brands in the beauty and skincare industry to offer their consumers a number of tools that they can engage with. Some of these include virtually trying on makeup by uploading a selfie, or taking a quiz that can analyze their skin, or engaging with a tool that provides them with a beauty routine to solve their skin concerns. These tools are engaging and build loyalty, and they also allow the brands to gather first-party and zero-party data on their shoppers so that they can deliver more personalised experiences. While this is an example of a B2B2C model, this method of data collection can also be applied to the B2B sales model. By examining how a tech buyer navigates your website and interacts with different engagement tools and features you can better understand their persona and business needs and serve them up the right content. And if they willingly engage with your digital tools, then you can collect first- and zero-party data to help better guide them through their buyer journey. And ultimately, this will increase the likelihood they will convert into a qualified lead and start a conversation.
Revieve is a technology company specialising in solutions for the beauty and wellbeing sector. The company’s technology platform enables retail businesses to provide personalised brand experiences to customers, including self-diagnostic, virtual try-on and post-purchase coaching solutions.
The company has headquarters in Chicago and Helsinki, and prides itself on continuous development, in-house technical expertise and the application of highly personalised AI solutions.