By: Ben Harper is the CEO and Founder of meethugo.com
2020 was a year that none of us have experienced the likes of before, but despite the difficulties we’ve all faced in the business world in the past eighteen months, some things have changed for the good and it’s important to recognise this.
This particularly applies to businesses and their marketing and sales processes.
Pinpointing and understanding what we need to evolve within our procedures is crucial if we are to succeed in business in the months and years to come.
Many business owners have been forced to discard their playbook of tips and time-honoured methods honed over many years due to the pandemic, in favour of new ideals and values.
New Truth #1: Understand Entire Customer Demographics First and Work Inward
The pandemic has backed up what we already knew; businesses must connect with their customers in very specific and precise ways, based on their requirements, circumstances and what they’re looking for.
However, it’s imperative that you finely shape each customer demographic as a whole, before you can begin to paint a picture of the individuals within them. Once you’ve done this, you can then start a dialogue with these individuals in order to develop sales pitches that resonate with an individual.
We’ve all realised the importance of managing our time to develop the best outcomes, which is true for both you as a salesperson and the customer who is looking for a solution to solve a problem.
By putting in that little extra leg work to define your demographic, shape the ideal individual for your solution and then opening a dialogue, you’re far more likely to create a personal, human connection within a commercial boundary where your odds at making the sale are improved and the customer is happy that what they have purchased since it will make a positive difference to their life.
New Truth #2: You Are No Longer Competing with Competitors, But Customer Experiences
Consumer expectation was already rocketing ever higher before we stumbled into the pandemic. Generation Z has grown up with technology as an integral part of their upbringing. And no matter where you stand on businesses harvesting consumer data, it has conditioned us to expect super-personalised purchasing scenarios.
When the pandemic hit, this digital transformation enhanced ten-fold almost overnight, as we were forced to stay in our homes. This also meant that our expectations increased, as we looked to bridge the gaps that emerged from no face-to-face contact with digital experiences.
The modern, post-pandemic consumer expects something much more than just being able to purchase something on the internet. Now that businesses are able to collect personal data, consumers are looking for personalised experiences throughout the entire customer journey.
As a company, you must follow three key strategies to deliver on the rising expectation of your customers:
- Make brand scores a key metric when turning your business into a complete customer-facing operation.
- Ensure that you have the correct data and technological foundations to support customer interaction and sales functions.
- Align all the collective customer journey goals within the business to ensure all departments can focus on ensuring the customer journey meets and exceeds expectations.
New Truth #3: Customers Demand High Quality
As the bar of quality continues to rise, you need to be prepared to follow suit – whether you’re operating for the B2B or B2C market. Customers demand an obstacle-free, personalised and smooth service. In other words, they know what they want, when they want it and expect nothing to interfere with that process.
As we’ve already mentioned, analytical and technological foundations must be at the very centre of your operation. This is because these two elements, when combined, are capable of offering powerful and relevant opportunities to connect with an audience and offer them that high quality they demand.
Typically, creating an experience that a customer wants to talk about, means you must adhere to four key touchpoints for the best possible experience:
- Content – this could be anything from how-to videos and explainers to blog posts and emails.
- Community – anything from creating a Facebook group where customers can discuss ideas and products to hosting webinars and Q&A sessions.
- Commerce – consists of deciding on a physical retail arrangement, an eCommerce store or a combination of the two.
- Convenience – whether you’re selling physical products to customers or SaaS solutions to the B2B market, it’s crucial that your business offering is convenient and easy to use.
Of course, these were all important pre-pandemic, but as the consumer journey demands more personalisation and attention, businesses like yours will need to develop and utilise the wealth of data they have to hand to build stronger connections with an audience.
New Truth #4: Connections Are Everything
It’s always been the case that businesses need to build connections with their customers based on mutual trust and respect. All of your marketing campaigns, for example, are simply promises to your customers that your product or service will quench the desires and requirements of the end-user.
The pandemic has placed considerable weight behind creating and solidifying relationships, most notably in B2B sales. Many sales professionals would have had to adapt to a virtual sales environment, which means that prospecting for new customers has been about pitching the solution to a problem in a difficult period, rather than simply selling something for commercial value.
For the sales department, this may have necessitated a restructuring of the workforce to ensure that those who are more comfortable with the online aspect of sales are placed at the front of the centre of the process offering valuable insights and solutions. This is how trust is built between business and customer post-pandemic.
That said, even in a B2C environment, trust is no less important. It is the very bedrock of the exchange between company and consumer. As businesses continue to rely on the collated data they accumulate on their consumers, they must ensure they are complying with regulation to ensure this data is housed safely, while also working towards offering transparent privacy policies.
New Truth #5: You Brand Must Stand Behind Values Not Products
The pandemic really forced the customer to consider where their brand loyalties lie. In fact, according to the 2020 EY Future Consumer Index, 61% of consumers said they were more aware and cautious as to which brands they were spending money on. This combined with the huge steps various social movements have taken into mainstream culture in the past year or so, means that brands must be more focused on societal causes than ever before.
As a matter of fact, many of the key themes from the research compiled in the EY report show that while price and quality are important points for consumers, they are also wary of sustainability, ethics, trust and social commitments as key factors in the consumer purchasing decision.
As sales professionals, marketers and business owners, it’s crucial that we’re able to adapt our processes to meet the intersection between human emotion and technological innovation.
It’s important to utilise the data we collect from our customers to craft stories and sales interactions that forge significant partnerships.
These new business truths post-pandemic combine a range of strategies, both operational and technological, required to thrive in a world that has changed significantly.