HEAD OF SALES, UK, IRELAND & FRANCE
Are human relationships taking more of a back seat in B2B marketing following the pandemic and the trend toward digital-first channel use?
I actually think people are ‘Zoomed’ out now, so we’ve emphasized people going out to visit clients, having lunches and being very old school. You do need to be clear about why you’re suggesting meeting in person and there’s clearly a balance to be struck, but to a large extent there is no replacement for personal human relationships and real client rapport.
Of course, you’ve got the instant-gratification generation who go on Facebook to monitor the likes, and who send a WhatsApp message expecting an immediate reply, and it’s important to be on top of that. Business intelligence can really help here, in tracking what clients and prospects need and prefer, so that teams can use their time optimally to add the right kind of value in each scenario.
Where can tech and automation add most value, would you say?
It’s actually a misconception that digital automatically makes things easier. Bombarding people with static messages/sending automated ‘personal’ messages doesn’t work that well, so we’re very cautious about that kind of thing. We prefer to use human engagement to create very specific email wins. That could be for recruitment purposes, even – for instance, 'I noticed you used to work at Rackspace...'. This approach requires a bit more of an investment in time, but it can be very effective as it shows genuine interest in the engagement.
That said, I do think there’s room for tech-based augmentation to human relationship building. That’s because the memory and the capabilities of humans can’t always keep pace with the fast-moving, transactional nature of mass selling.
The right tools can be invaluable here. I’m not talking about Outlook with calendar invites, but rather those solutions that provide a rep with targeted intelligence – about the calls they’re doing that day, the catchups that are due in two weeks, and making sure teams are primed to have maximum impact.
Bombarding people with static messages/sending automated ‘personal’ messages doesn’t work that well, so we’re very cautious about that kind of thing. We prefer to use human engagement to create very specific email wins.
It's not about the clicks but about what prospects are doing that might lead to real intent rather than a ‘tracked’ intent.
How do you track and respond to customer intent in a digital-first world?
Being discerning about interpreting intent and need is critical. When a prospect has clicked on something, or downloaded a white paper, it might well suggest that they are primed and ready to engage. But you need more intelligence than that, ideally - to know how best to act next.
In other words, it's not about the clicks but about what prospects are doing that might lead to real intent rather than a ‘tracked’ intent. One of the ways we do this is by proactively identifying web presences that are growing and may need more capacity, for example.
Ultimately, we’re trying to get the message out that we're a disrupter and challenger in the web hosting space – that we understand the structural challenges of maintaining performance; that we’re not complacent about what this takes.
And it’s the human element in our messaging that makes the difference, here. We’re essentially inviting them to get next-level help – e.g. ‘Do you want to speak to someone, rather than just figure out yourself what you're doing online?’
IONOS is the hosting and cloud partner of choice for small and medium-sized businesses. Experts in IaaS, the company offers a portfolio of solutions to get businesses present online and working in the digital space.