3 Shifts That Relationship Intelligence is Driving in Email Personalization

 In Social Selling

Sales is a fast-changing field, and those who are the best at selling are aware of the trends and out in front of the necessary changes.  The rise of relationship intelligence has led to three big changes in how sales email is being created.  No longer is it possible to succeed with undifferentiated and unpersonalized emails. At minimum you need to use great cold email templates and then personalize them.

Bottom-line: a short, intense burst of automated outreach to try to drive a meeting is no longer an approach that leads to sales success. Here’s how to understand this trend better and how to change:

  1. The Buyers are in Control

Increasingly, buyers are taking control of their own buying journeys.  They seek out the information that they need, explore solutions, and find alternatives.  When buyers are in control, the role of sales is not providing information.  The role of sales is to challenge and change perspective by understanding where the buyer’s mindset is at, and introducing new ideas or challenging preconceived notions.

As sales engages with buyers, there’s an opportunity to see where they are at and help them along their buying journey. Buying journeys can take weeks or months, and each buyer is unique.  Finding the right moment in their journey to reframe a way of thinking about a problem, challenge a viewpoint, or push towards a decision is as much art as it is science.

The best sales professionals know how to guide each buyer along a unique path and are able to measure their progress in terms of the growth of their relationships, not their raw outbound email activity.

  1. Marketing is Back

For the last decade, marketing has been busy on the content marketing journey.  High volumes of undifferentiated content was produced in the name of increasing social media awareness and generating search rankings.  The content may have worked for the algorithms that govern search and social, but it did not work for buyers.

Relationship intelligence has allowed organizations to understand that buyers might arrive on a web site based on the efforts of content marketing, but if sales has nothing further to offer, the needed relationships will not develop.  Sales, without anything further to offer, just tried to convince the buyer to take a 30 minute sales call, with results that were unsatisfying for both sides.

The best marketing teams are now refocusing on the buyers’ journey and producing relevant, interesting, and powerful content that helps challenge perceptions and introduce new ideas.  Top revenue teams combine marketing’s ability to expertly craft the right message that challenges an idea or positions a new concepts with sales deep understanding of each buyer’s unique journey.

A single well timed communication, backed by a high quality marketing piece, can shift the journey of a buyer and change the way they consider the market.

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel, the renowned content and growth marketer and founder of Mailshake and Right Inbox, says that “taking this approach to content marketing also gives you the opportunity to “double-dip”. There is often overlap between content that has search volume, and is also relevant to your customers at different stages of the buyer journey. There’s no reason to turn your back on one in favor of the other; this type content can bring in targeted top-of-the-funnel traffic from search engines, and also be used in your onboarding flow, or by your sales team to move buyers down the funnel.”

 

  1. Risk is Quantified

While measuring relationship growth is important in driving towards revenue, the opposite is just as useful.  The use of undifferentiated and automated sales outreach has destroyed more relationships than it ever created.  An ability to measure the growth and decay of relationships has shone a spotlight on this issue.  Most sales teams no longer support processes that are dependent on high volume, low quality outreach as the negative consequences outweigh any short term positive effects.

This risk of alienating large portions of the potential buying universe is a conversation that is much broader than sales.  Marketing, executive, legal, and compliance teams all are beginning to see and quantify the damage that is being done and the risk to the business that is being created.

Conclusion: Personalization is a Core Competency

The common thread in all of this is the idea of personalization.  Developing a unique understanding of each buyer, and the context of their world and their business is crucial.  Mapping that understanding to the email you are about to send is then the next critical step.

Top sales people are able to understand each prospect as a unique individual, and are able to use that understanding to add value at each interaction by personalizing the outreach with unique marketing assets that are relevant to that particular buyer.

There is nothing easy about personalization.  In many ways, that’s the point.  If a buyer is going to take time out of their day to interact with a salesperson, they want to know that the salesperson is equally invested in them.  Demonstrating an upfront investment in each prospect relationship by personalizing your sales outreach to their unique situation is the best way to start a long-term, fruitful sales relationship.

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Experienced SaaS CTO. Founded and guided the building of Eloqua to a market leading position in Marketing Automation. Now Co-founder and CTO at Nudge. Author of the book “Digital Body Language" with a passion for innovation, cloud computing and software evolution.
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