Use Data to Make Your First Impression Count

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We only get one chance to make a first impression. Whether we’re meeting someone in our personal lives or making a new business contact, we have mere seconds to make that impression count. And for a sales person, that minuscule amount of time can make or break a business relationship.

According to Forrester, up to 70 percent of a customers’ buying decision is being made through online research before any contact with a salesperson occurs. So, it’s more critical than ever for salespeople to ace that first impression when they finally speak with a potential customer. To ensure a great first impression, sales people must have the right data at their fingertips, allowing them to speak directly to the needs of specific individuals and engage them in highly personalized conversations.

Customers are giving organizations several pieces of essential information that can be used to create a tailored dialogue if companies promptly and accurately capture and react to it. More and more customers are starting their buying journeys online and their search histories can be extremely indicative of what they’re looking for, the urgency of their need, and, very importantly, what they already know.

With organizations collecting gargantuan amounts of data about their customers and prospects, theoretically it should be relatively simple to equip a sales person with the relevant details to give him a clear snapshot of the customer on the other end of the channel. This data is not only precious because it’s costly to obtain, but also because it can make a difference between a success and a failure.

Unfortunately, only too often a lot of this information is being lost somewhere in the transition between marketing and sales, many times because a company lacks the right tools or analytics capabilities. Such a shortcoming can lead to an uncomfortable conversation. Imagine, for example, a woman undergoing chemotherapy who contacts a hair restoration company to inquire about a solution. It is imperative that she is routed to an associate who, from the start of the conversation, addresses her exact need and is empathic. She cannot be given the same sales pitch as a recently divorced male who’s looking for a hair restoration solution to feel more attractive. The search history of these two people should unveil their distinct personas and be used as a tool to start the conversation on the right note.

Similarly, understanding the customer journey will give a very strong indication about a prospect’s knowledge about a company and its products. Even the device used to carry out the search can give very pertinent clues. For example, our Growth Services division developed a digital marketing campaign for a legal company with great results; however when the firm invested in a mobile campaign, results plummeted. After analyzing the sales calls, we discovered that customers coming from mobile channels didn’t have in-depth information about the firm but still had an urgent need for its services. By recognizing the needs of these mobile prospects and addressing them differently, through an information-focused conversation, the company drove mobile conversion up by more than 1,000 percent.

This example highlights the importance of leveraging data to tailor the conversation. But this isn’t a one-way street and sales teams also need to share relevant information with the marketing department, pinpointing potential problems in campaigns, and addressing them in quasi real time.

We believe that data is at the core of a customer-centered sales strategy. We only get one chance to make a good first impression. We need to use data to make it count.