Looking back, it is tempting to divide the world into pre-2020 and post-2020. That seemed to be the moment when everything changed. And while the pandemic certainly changed a lot of things, many trends were already underway. That ‘unprecedented’ year only accelerated it all.
Take online shopping for example. E-commerce has been rising steadily over the past decade, but then 2020 came along, and brought the biggest jump in growth so far. The same is true of B2B sales. Thanks to a shift to hybrid mode, as well as reduced travel and fewer in-person meetings and events, much of the B2B sales process quickly moved from the usual face-to-face interactions, and towards Zoom, email, and other digital tools and experiences. While the pandemic certainly sped it all up, the fact is, we were on that course anyway. After all, nearly three-quarters of B2B purchase decision makers are millennials, who are much more inclined towards virtual interactions. They are running the show now.
The writing’s definitely on the wall. Especially in a post-pandemic world, B2B sales relationships must be created, cultivated, and conducted virtually. But how? We’ve got some ideas.
5 ways to build meaningful, memorable virtual B2B relationships
As specialists in omnichannel corporate gifting, we partner with many companies who are aiming to strengthen their B2B connections in effective and powerful ways. There are 5 things you really can’t do without if you want to grab and keep the attention of your B2B prospects:
- Personalization When 77% of B2B marketers say that personalization enhances their customer relationships, businesses today can’t afford not to get personal with their prospects. There is simply no point anymore to cold calling or email blasts. Those days are long gone. Rather, businesses must engage potential customers by relating to them as the individuals they are, with their own pain points and interests. Even small tweaks in marketing copy or gift marketing that is genuinely thoughtful, rather than the typical boring swag, can make a big difference to campaign results.
- Gift storytelling Everyone loves a good story. Storytelling is now regarded as a key aspect of successful marketing, as it provides a way to deeply engage customers through a memorable, compelling journey. But how about telling a story with a gift? Gift storytelling combines the beloved story concept with something people can’t resist: presents. The trick to B2B gift storytelling is wrapping the sales pitch in an intriguing and original story via a gift that the customer will truly appreciate and connect with. And for that, you need the next item in our list.
- Creativity and emotion Any successful marketing campaign leverages creativity and emotion that customers won’t be able to resist to build loyalty and trust in their brand. Of course, these are hard to measure so it’s easier said than done. Hitting just the right note for your target audience is really important, and highly individual, but a great way to get your creative juices flowing is by looking at what other brands have done so you can gain inspiration from their ideas. Here are a few to get you started.
- Integrated marketing and sales campaigns Omnichannel is a big buzzword at the moment, and there’s a good reason for it. While B2B sales have shifted strongly to digital, there will always be the ‘real world’ component as well, whether it be a phone call, business lunch, or corporate gift. The trick is creating a journey for the customer that seamlessly flows between online and offline. At Outgage, we see amazing results from omnichannel gifting campaigns, with average engagement rates of around 35%, and even reaching up to 92%. When B2B marketing and sales teams can get on the same page – or funnel! – the rewards can be significant.
- Data data data At the end of the day, B2B marketers need the ability to track the performance of their campaigns so they can analyze and understand the behavior and responses of potential customers. That’s the only way to optimize and ensure better results in the future. All the key aspects of B2B sales in a post-pandemic world, whether it be emotion, creativity, storytelling, personalization or omnichannel experiences, come together in the most meaningful form as actionable data. With our Outgage dashboard or integrations, marketers get complete visibility of their campaign data, and gain the insights to effectively integrate direct gifting into the customer funnel at any stage, from awareness to consideration and purchase.
There’s no going back
B2B relationships have changed, and won’t ever go back to the traditional way of cold calls and mindless swag. B2B customers are different now; more savvy, more digitally inclined, more exposed, less patient. What they really want is to be emotionally captivated, to be told compelling stories, to have their problems solved, and to move seamlessly between the virtual and the real. Omnichannel gifting campaigns, powered by Outgage and driven by actionable data, is the ideal solution.