Can someone please point me to all those great personalized B2B web sites? You know the ones… they kinda ask you as you hit the home page who you are, gather some basic demographics/firmographics and then proceed to customize the content experience for you so you’re more likely to find what you need.
I get that experience when I visit B2C web sites… Amazon for instance. They’ve used past behavior to craft a personalized experience for me that I enjoy. And in the words of the man himself (from a 1998 interview):
“In the online world, businesses have the opportunity to develop very deep relationships with customers, both through accepting preferences of customers and then observing their purchase behavior over time, so that you can get that individualized knowledge of the customer and use that individualized knowledge…to accelerate their discovery process.
If we can do that, then the customers are going to feel a deep loyalty to us, because we know them so well. And if they switch to a competitive website, as long as we never give them a reason to switch, as long as we’re not trying to charge higher prices or providing lousy service, or don’t have the selection that they require; as long as none of those things happen, they’re going to stick with us because they are going to be able to get a personalized service, a customized website that takes into account the years of relationship we’ve built with them.”
How about that? …
…”accelerate the discovery process” -> make it EASY and FAST to find the content that satisfies
…”feel a deep loyalty to us: -> Brand affinity is the crown jewel of a great customer experience
…acknowledging and building upon “the years of relationship we’ve built with them.”
If that’s what can happen in B2C environment, don’t you think some of that might be useful in B2B interactions? Is there such a chasm in thinking between what works in a consumer oriented engagement vs. a B2B oriented engagement? I guess so.
Name me an enterprise software play today that doesn’t have years worth of relationships built up with the majority of their customers. The millions of members of the community sites associated with SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are a testament to those relationships. And these community sites are quite personalized. But what about the core web experiences of these organizations… and what about (hush!) the prospects?
Don’t they deserve to have an “individualized” experience as well? Why wouldn’t they? Would you agree with me that most software today, regardless of provider has “right to play” functionality? That the capabilities of various solutions whether on-premise or on-demand aim for “good enough” equivalency? Yes, I know a lot of you may have issues with that statement and I grant ahead of time that of course each vendor has a sweet spot (or is that a ‘suite-spot’ ?), or their technology aligns better with the prospect’s IT environment or processes or the look and feel appeals more (OK, have I covered all eventual issues now?). So if the functionality is roughly equivalent, don’t these organizations stand apart from the pack based on relationship and ultimately Brand affinity? What was that Bezos was saying about customer loyalty? Oh yeah its the key to his business.
Most sales professionals I speak to tell me that its all about the relationship. Its the relationship that sells the deal. Customers say the same thing! That being said, then the earlier a firm starts building that relationship with a prospective customer and the richness of those early building blocks are keys to winning the deal. Its about getting folks to the rich content they need as quickly as possible. Its about creating an immersive and fun experience for the prospect, who when they finally leave your site say to themselves, “wow, they had exactly the content I was looking for” (read: they made my work life easier). “I’m going to look at these guys more closely.”
Personalization is not an end in and of itself. Personalization is a cornerstone for relationship-building. Many times your a prospect’s first impression of you is online. Don’t you want to put your best foot forward?
(Cross-posted @ AbleBrains)