Marketers: Humanize the Sales Process by Being Recipient-First

Coming across as 'human' remains a top priority for today's marketers. Here's why you should switch to a recipient-first approach in your sales processes.
Recipient First Definition

When we think about the Marketer of 2021 and the future of marketing priorities, we couldn’t have predicted a few years ago what would be most important to us today.

But with a global shift amidst a pandemic, comes more micro shifts across industries. And according to a Brandwatch study on the Marketer of 2021, the focus of most marketing leaders for the foreseeable future is to humanize their entire sales process and strategies.

Not only humanizing ourselves as brands but understanding customers as humans. We’ve officially moved past the automation era, where marketers and sellers’ primary focuses were on volume. Getting as much generic noise into the market because we finally had the tools to allow us to do so.

Customers aren’t impressed by the light personalization of emails, spray and pray tactics easing their way into other marketing channels like Direct Mail and social selling, and are now holding businesses to higher standards that are simply not being met.

And so begins a new era. The humanization era.

The humanization era, the focus for 2021, and the future of marketing are based on two principles to create relationships that bring out the human in brands and consumers: Engage and delight.

“For us, 2021 will be all about how do we add value to humanity through what we do – at every touchpoint”
— Rachael Zahn, VP, Marketing & Sales Optimization, Investis Digital

The current process for buying a B2B solution is rarely engaging and I wouldn’t call it delightful. It was never a priority to be either.

But buyer expectations have shifted, the customer is in control and they can choose which vendor they go with based on gut feeling, how they relate to the brand, and how they’re treated by the brand.

  • 63% fall in love with brands because of great service
  • 62% will recommend a brand to a friend because of great service

In order to keep up with customers and enter the humanization era, you don’t need to buy a new suite of tools, change your entire strategy, or hire an entirely new workforce.

Instead, you simply need to change your approach.

The Shift To Recipient-First Direct Mail

This shift can be seen through the lens of direct mail. A channel that was losing steam, seeing a downward trend of usage starting in 2016. In 2019, Winterberry Group noted that direct mail saw the largest drop with a decrease in volume of 7.4%.

While traditional direct mail is one of the least effective channels when reaching target audiences, the entire channel of direct mail itself isn’t completely out of the running.

Marketing Charts reported in 2019 that direct mail – when integrated within a multi-channel strategy and contextualized within the customer journey – outperformed some of the most reliable channels such as email, outbound business development, and SEM.

All this to say: it’s not direct mail that’s the issue, it’s the approach to traditional mail that’s flawed.

Which makes sense if you think about it. Marketing campaigns are supposed to drive action. They’re supposed to drive a prospect or a customer to act. Marketing campaigns are useless if they’re not providing value to prospects and customers that will turn into revenue for your business.

So it’s time to rethink our approach to marketing campaigns to be human first. Here’s how you can switch your direct mail and corporate gifting approach to be recipient- first.

Think Outside Of Your Campaign Theme

We’re not saying that your campaign theme is bad or that you should scrap themes altogether. What we are saying is that you could be creating a negative experience at the expense of your prospect to force a direct mail campaign to be on theme.

Your prospects don’t know the themes of the campaign you’re running and chances are they don’t care too much. We’re in a buyer-centric world and what matters most is creating an experience that favors the buyer’s journey rather than your company’s process.

The best way to drive engagement in your direct mail and corporate gifting programs is to think outside of your campaign and turn your attention toward the recipient.

That’s why we are so focused on driving the power of choice through gifting because you can never anticipate what your prospect needs at that very moment and it could not be the gift you’ve hand-picked for them.

Rather than taking it personally that your prospect exchanges a gift for something else, you can sleep better at night knowing that your prospect is happier now than they would have been had you forced them to accept a gift they didn’t want.

Rethink Your Delivery

This argument is better told with a story. There was once a customer who wanted to run a direct mail campaign to their target accounts all about how easy it was to sign up for their service.

They want to send each person a gift box. Inside the gift box is an empty box and inside that box is another empty box, and in the last box there would be a handwritten note “You could have used the last 90 seconds to onboard with us instead!”

So let’s break down how we could rethink this delivery to have the same message with a recipient experience in mind.

First thing’s first, ask yourself: Do you want this campaign to drive attention or to drive action?

If you’re going to have someone go through an unknowingly frustrating experience of getting a box within a box with nothing in it from a company, do you think that will start a relationship off on the right foot with a prospect? Especially if this is targeted to ABM accounts you’re prioritizing.

Try to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. Rather than gifting for the sake of the experience, have the gift facilitate the experience. Send a stopwatch, a nice watch, a clock, or any other time-based gifts with messaging around.

Your digital swag options can be thematic without being frustrating and kitschy. Humanize your brand with the note included in the gift, create those moments of humanity with every interaction a prospect has with your brand.

There’s A Time And Place

Speaking of gifting being thematic without being frustrating, there is a time and a place for kitschy and punny gift campaigns! We’re not telling you to throw out every fun idea you’ve ever had, we love a good theme here at Alyce, but being conscious of the audience who will be receiving the gift can make sure you leave the right impression.

For example, late-stage prospects and the future champions of your product or service will be more open to thematic and fun gifts over C-Suite executives you’re reaching out to for the first time.

When in doubt, think about the 3Rs: Are you being relatable? Are you being respectful? Are you relevant?

More Isn’t Always More

Traditional direct mail is on the decline. The usual methods of spraying and praying your cold outreach through gifting and mail are not working anymore.

However, when you curate and create an entire, multi-channel approach to your gifting – when you see gifting not as a silver bullet that will replace all your marketing channels but instead as a rising tide that lifts as boats, that’s when you’ll see the power of gifting, in the form of engaged contacts, pipeline, and closed-won.

Sending gifts for the sake of sending gifts is not how you create personal experiences, build trust, and drive loyalty with your gifting programs.

Integrating gifting to augment your existing marketing and sales initiatives is where you can see the highest engagement with your gifting and drive the most action from your gifts.

The Switch To Recipient First Gifting

Your team has worked hard to identify your top prospects at key accounts, why would you use the same generic and impersonal outreach you’re using with other prospects?

Hint: You shouldn’t. Wow them with a personal and respectful experience that incorporates gifting.

But not just any gift – a gift that doesn’t cause frustration, waste, and noise for prospects who aren’t at the right stage in their buyer’s journey to be gifted.

In order to have a sustainable gifting motion in your organization, the recipient-centric experience is the way to go.

June 23, 2021
Team Alyce
Team Alyce