Evolution of the B2B HandshakeBy Solomon Abudarham | Tue, 03/23/2021 - 09:21
Over the last year, the traditional B2B handshake has been forcefully replaced by virtual interactions, driving broad adoption of digital communication platforms and fueling the need for comprehensive and accurate information on customers, suppliers and partners to ensure reliability despite physical distance. Businesses today rely on technology and comprehensive data to create sustainable domestic and international business relationships and now, in our heavily remote work environment, even the relationships with customers who are sometimes just a few blocks away.
Until recently, face-to-face meetings were critical to building new relationships and nurturing existing ones. Nothing generated more trust to close a deal than a good, firm handshake and a pat on the back. However, lockdowns and travel restrictions have compelled organizations in nearly all industries to adjust their approach to customer interactions, leveraging virtual communication and collaboration tools.
The virtual experience, as efficient as it might appear, has proven particularly difficult in the Latam markets, where trust has always been fostered primarily through human connections. The pandemic has forced organizations to re-evaluate their customer support and acquisition strategies. Beyond the human factor, customer engagement and retention strategies had to be entirely re-imagined.
Shifting, almost overnight, from face-to-face to 100 percent virtual interactions (with prospects, customers, and suppliers,) demanded a multipronged solution to ensure business continuity and identify new opportunities for growth. To navigate these uncharted waters, successful companies are going through a process of digital transformation, which relies heavily on comprehensive, accurate and structured data.
At the root of it all must stand a data company that already operates all of these various systems effectively and efficiently, but which also able to share and meld with external sources of structured data, leading to the identification of new prospects and future customer needs.
The USMCA opens a gateway of opportunities for Mexican companies seeking to export to new markets or become a vendor into a cross-border supply chain. However, identifying new, pre-qualified prospects and/or suppliers requires a data-driven approach.
Driving awareness in this high-speed business environment, businesses will need to be more efficient to acquire and maintain customer data to enable predictive logic of customer behaviors.
Becoming a data-driven organization starts with implementing Master Data Management strategies, thus impacting every aspect of an organization’s most valuable asset: its customer base. Strong customer relationships start with relative data as customers demand exceptional and personalized experiences in real time. Interactions with customers based on high-quality data enables trust and confidence. Developing a high-quality MDM system enables a business to map, and monitor, the DNA of its customers, which in turn becomes the cornerstone for profiling the best customers to prospects in any geography.
In our new remote reality, acquiring new customers requires strong matchmaking datasets and precise data analysis tools to pre-qualify prospects. Starting the sales acquisition strategy with pre-qualified prospects improves closing ratios and leads to sound product strategies, based on insight-driven conversations with your prospects.
The key to identifying new, pre-qualified prospects is the smart and creative use of structured data. However, this all starts with an organization’s own internal data. The optimal scenario is for a company to have all its data harmonized through a master data structure that enables the generation of a digital DNA of its customers. Once this unique profile of an organization’s customers has been created, prospect matchmaking becomes more of a scientific process than a guessing game.
If the data segmentation efforts are applied to external marketing data, the digital handshake at the opening stage of a B2B relationship can quickly progress beyond basic exploratory conversations. Starting a new-prospect conversation from a point of relativity is the key to overcoming human distancing.
Several studies indicate that trusted B2B relationships have not waned with business distancing and, if anything, they are now even more sound than before. However, the first condition is that one must be connecting with the right audience.
While we’re limited on the human interactions that nurture trust, this can be overcome with knowledge and understanding of one’s own business through the sharing of business intelligence.