Why we need to redefine personalization in digital sales cycles

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
29th April 2021
Author: Kit McKay
Posted in: Sales

Personalization has come a long way since the days when embedding names in email subject lines seemed like the cutting edge of technology.

According to research by G2, almost 9 in 10 buyers now expect salespeople to personalize their experience. This demand for more custom touchpoints has dramatically evolved personalization over the last few years as technological innovation has raced to catch up with changing buyer behavior.

With these developments in mind, we need to rethink the role personalization plays in our buyer journeys and push the boundaries of what we consider the limits of a personalized sales experience.

Dissecting a buzzword

The term “personalization” has been used very liberally in the marketing and sales spheres. Let’s break down what this buzzword actually means.

Salesforce defines personalization as “the act of tailoring an experience or communication based on information a company has learned about an individual”.

From the buyer’s perspective, it can be as simple as answering two questions:

  1. Do you know who I am?
  2. Do you know what I care about?

The success of personalization hinges on a company’s ability to first find that information (data) and then apply it in a way that creates a positive experience for the prospective customer.

Personalization = buyer experience

“Personalization is a key component of the buyer experience,” says Ronan Vance, Director of Alliances at Folloze. “If you build a buyer’s journey that doesn’t address your target accounts by who they are and what they care about, what kind of experience is that?”

And it’s sorely needed. According to Gartner, 77 percent of B2B customers rated their latest purchase as extremely complex or difficult. Bloated sales cycles, disjointed information, and difficulties getting whole buyer groups on board create a very painful experience for both buyers and sellers.

Personalization is a method of simplifying purchases by shaping the experience at multiple levels to make decision-making more manageable.

External vs internal personalization 

Digital sales cycles lose out on the organic personalization we take for granted in real-person interactions. No one questions whether a sales message is for them when the person who said it is standing right in front of them at a conference. 

A salesperson demos to a prospect in person

When these interactions happen online, they need to be actively personalized to recreate a semblance of that buyer experience. This has naturally been a big concern for most sales teams this past year. To maximize how impactful this is, you can split personalization into two subgroups: external and internal.

External personalization (Do you know who I am?)

This type of personalization describes every customized element that is immediately obvious. Such as:

  • Name
  • Company name
  • Company logo
  • Company branding
  • Image of website

In email and social media outreach, this usually happens in the subject line, for example. You may also see it presented visually in social media thumbnails, the front covers of proposals, or even in web advertisements.

External personalization acts as a hook that sellers can use to stand out on overcrowded channels. It creates an urgency to respond because it’s clear that it was specifically meant for you and not just something you stumbled upon.

Internal personalization (Do you know what I care about?)

The deeper level of personalization happens inside the content of the sales communication or collateral. It’s how you tailor your messaging to the contexts of your prospects. This involves adding in additional content where relevant and removing excess content where irrelevant.

This most often happens in the body text of your content or web copy but it can also take place in sales videos. See how to do this here.

Internal personalization is how you minimize cognitive overload in prospects. Content and experiences that are personalized well at this level are often outcomes-oriented and speak to the specific pain points and challenges buyers are facing within the buying stage they currently sit in.

How technology is rewriting the rules on personalization

Personalization today is lightyears away from what it was just a few years ago. The external demand from buyers for a more customized experience and the internal demand from sales for better ways to reach online prospects has brought in a golden era for technology to rise to the challenge.

A buyer reads a piece of personalized content on her laptop

Turtl’s software lets salespeople quickly create custom versions of content assets such as proposals, sales decks, and brochures tailored to the specific needs of their prospects. This process is automated so that hundreds of personalized documents can be generated in an instant, greatly accelerating the sales cycle by moving large quantities of buyers to the next stage in their journey.

Turtl assets can be further activated by coupling Turtl with Folloze, the Buyer Experience Platform, which enables the orchestration of personalized messaging & content to buyers across channels, touchpoints and stages. That way, you’re personalizing not just the individual pieces of content you deliver, but also the buyer’s journey which defines what content to deliver in the first place. The Folloze platform empowers revenue teams to create personalized digital destinations for touchpoints up and down the funnel, with an AI-powered engine that helps automate what content is shown to which accounts based on 1st and 3rd party data.

Both Turtl and Folloze are able to track prospects at a granular level as they engage with content and other digital experiences to give sales teams visibility into when they should follow up and what messaging they should engage with.

Technologies that facilitate personalization to improve the buyer experience are developing every day. Who knows what they might look like in the years to come? But with 80 percent of buyers more likely to purchase a product from a company that provides personalized experiences, the shift towards personalized selling shows no sign of slowing down.

However…knowing that personalized selling is effective is one thing. Being able to pull it off at scale is another. Learn how marketing can combine agility and automation to unlock meaningful personalization on Folloze’s blog.