Lagging B2B Personalisation is Costing Customers and Sales Revenue

By Janice B Gordon | B2B Sales

Nov 27

The B2B world has been slow to take full advantage of data as an asset. In a study of fast-growth organisations, McKinsey linked above-market growth with the extensive use of analytics to make better decisions, improve forecasting and hone sales strategy.

The marketers who personalise their customers’ web visits typically see a 19% uplift in sales says Monetate. Making better decisions in the face of uncertainty is the foundation for differentiating your brand and growing sales revenue. Today, certainty is not guaranteed.

The starting point is not data for data sake, but asking, ‘how can we better serve our customer?’ Using the information from the data to make a relevant decision that creates better customer experiences and implement feedback loops to improve the individual customer experience continuously.

In Forrester’s Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer report, only 9% of responding companies indicated they had implemented digital transformation to the degree that they felt gave them an advantage among their competitors. By combining internal data with external sources of B2B buyer behaviour data, you can unlock endless actionable insights. Analysing behavioural data as buyers consume complementary and competitive solutions helps marketers focus campaigns to improve results.

In a recent study conducted by Boston Consulting Group looked at the personalisation practices of over 50 popular brands, with the report estimating that companies currently excelling in personalisation already experience a 6-10% increase in revenue as a result.

The objective of Personalisation is to use known data to provide a relevant, engaging experience for consumers, regardless of where, when or how a customer chooses to engage, it is essential that supply companies leverage new technology to create an enduring relationship between the brand and the customer. Personalisation is a proven strategy to improve various business metrics, from acquisition and conversion rates to loyalty and customer lifetime value with a focus on relevant communications. Information is not enough. You need to push that information pointedly in front of the customers at the exact moment their needs are triggered.

Yet B2B supply companies are lagging behind B2C examples:

  • Delta has a new app that visually maps out where a passenger’s luggage is so they can track its movement.
  • The luxury hotel Dorchester Collection uses AI to analyse guest reviews and then change its breakfast menu to match their customer’s preferences and feedback.

Segmentation is the process of discovering groups of individuals with a common, yet broad characteristics, setting priorities and grouping on generic correlations between group or segments.

The problem with the traditional segmentation approach is that it assumes everybody looks exactly like the average of the segment. Average means that to make it better for some customers you had to make it worse for others. Such that when you create an improvement in the collective group experience, you will soon hit a point of diminishing returns. Each segment would receive an offer based on the characteristic of the segment.

Typically, segmentation starts with just one or two, but could quickly morph into tens or hundreds of segments, which defeats the objective of segmentation.

The benefit of segmentation is a match of an offer to segment need, a quicker response on what does not work, the ability for more in-depth segment analysis to target proposals, understand themes and target your segment preferences, able to grow sales revenue through upselling and cross-sell strategies and increase relationship and profits.

As your understanding of the segment grows so does your awareness of the customer differences, you are now able to profile and build the infrastructure to offer different things to different customers treating customers, as individuals rather than segments.

Productivity Scale your Sales model

Many supply companies have fallen foul of the complexity of going straight to a personalisation strategy, without first doing the due diligence of segmented prioritisation. If you do not apply addition personalisation to the smaller most valued customer segments, the potential benefit is only the incremental improvement to the average for each of the segment. You must change the business model of the less favourable 20% to 40% of customers to less intensive sales support.

Personalisation is the optimising of experiences and messages to individuals themselves and not to the segment. It is about tailoring highly relevant offers at the most personal individual level. Each customer sees completely different proposals is a focused segmentation personalised strategy timely tailored to their needs.

Scale Your Sales Productivity module is a focused, personalised segmentation strategy of prioritisation and focuses on your most valued customers. Personalisation is about individual decisions, not about building unique, one-off experiences. Instead of trying to create a new product or service for every `customer, you must decide which of all the available options you have on hand that gives you a leading edge to offer a specific customer.

Scale Your Sales Productivity module helps you set the priorities of the most valued segments, usually not more than the top 20% of valued customers. Then the segments are segmented again into profiles to help gain a deeper understanding of individual wants and needs aligned with the suppliers’ different offers. Then there is a personalisation process, treating each customer personally as a segment of one to operationalise and personalise at scale in the promise to the customer.

Janice B Gordon personalisation segmentation source pexel

The problem is data trapped in CRM systems, although systems are moving to 360 integrated internal data. Frictionless customer experience is enabled through real-time engagement that spans touch points and multistage journeys. Combining internal data with cross-company buyer behaviour to uncover demand indicators, buying signals and other contextual insights. Using digital channels, mobile apps, social media, SMS and IoT, there are countless ways to build out a personalised customer journey for a segment of one. Companies need to embrace new technologies such as machine learning to keep up with the proliferation of touch points and the explosion of data, and to create a scalable process in which machines detect intention and then seamlessly prescribe the optimal path to purchase for each customer.

Personalisation celebrates the diversity of your customers. Customers expect instant gratification, unfortunately, data systems are on catch-up to mirror customer demand. Personalisation does not have to be elaborate or complicated when built in a logical stepped process. Scale Your Sales Productivity is a segment based personalisation strategy to help brands interact with their customer’s unique differences because the rewards of a focused segment personalisation strategy are clear to see.

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About the Author

Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular the sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Strategic Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice today about Scaling your Sales