The pandemic has changed Channel marketing forever. Today’s customers expect unique, personalised, and valuable interactions at every stage of the buying process. Even if you have the most innovative products, beautiful presentations, or relevant messaging, this is not enough if the personal connection is missing. It is more important than ever that companies build a relationship with their customers, as this allows them to continue selling successfully despite a rapidly evolving market.

The proliferation of remote selling has meant that teams have integrated more modern technologies into the Channel. These new tools allow vendors to reach prospective buyers in far-reaching locations, but this often means that the personal touch is lost. This affects revenue generation: According to LinkedIn, 88% of B2B customers only buy when they receive trustworthy advice. It is high time to put the focus back on people.

Empathy is decisive for success

Empathy is the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes and constitutes the basis for a trusting relationship. Empathetic marketers are those who truly understand their customers’ needs and problems, seeing challenges from their perspective. As a result, customers feel appreciated and are more likely to find the seller’s solutions effective.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Showpad’s research indicates that 57% of organisations have shifted more than half of their sales calls to remote-only, which has made maintaining empathy a massive challenge. Showing empathy virtually is not the same as showing empathy physically – facial expressions and body language simply do not translate in the same way.

Marketers need to re-learn how to build personal connections with their customers in this new world, limited by a lack of face-to-face meetings and sales conferences. Applying the same techniques that were successful in the physical environment will not be as effective virtually.

Organisations must implement new training strategies that are fit for the world of remote selling, as it may be difficult for their partners to adapt without guidance. An increased focus on soft skills is needed, so that partners can engineer empathetic conversations with buyers in the remote environment. Moreover, training programmes should be designed with empathy in mind – the more that people practice, the better they will be when faced with clients in digital meetings.

Empathy as a competitive advantage

The ability to foster close personal exchanges with customers is critical to driving the success of a company. This is particularly true for B2B marketing, where customer experience is becoming the primary driver of purchase decisions – product and price are secondary. A good customer experience is one where they feel understood.

In the world of remote sales, where empathy is often lacking, organisations that have adapted to a digital-forward, personalised approach are more likely to reach their targets. Empathy can therefore be seen as a differentiator in a world where measuring engagement has become a key challenge for remote sellers. Those who build good working relationships with their buyers will find it easier to measure engagement, ultimately resulting in increased sales.

Empathy does not end with the customer

Empathy is not only a valuable skill in customer-facing interactions. Empathy should be practiced throughout the Channel, as it offers key benefits for businesses and their employees. For example, 76% of people who experienced empathy from their leaders reported they were more engaged in their work, compared with only 32% who experienced less. High employee engagement not only improves wellbeing, but increases productivity, and ultimately profits.

Empathy is therefore a key ingredient to ensure a positive personal experience for both the customer and employee experience.  This is especially the case in a world of remote sales where interpersonal interactions have become increasingly difficult. Organisations should implement an empathetic culture, with ongoing training for their marketers, in order to effectively reap the benefits of these soft skills.

Dustin Deno is SVP of Global Sales at Showpad

As the SVP of Global Sales, Dustin Deno leads Showpad’s BDR, AE and Solution Engineering groups, creating better alignment and collaboration between regions and teams. He joined Showpad as the Vice President of Sales, North America and led the company’s account executives and business development representatives, focusing on customers in the U.S. and abroad.

Prior to joining Showpad, Dustin spent six years at Salesforce, ultimately becoming Area Vice President of Retail and Consumer Goods. He also served as Senior Vice President of Sales at Maropost, and is presently a member of Revenue Collective, a private membership organization for commercial growth operators composed of sales, marketing, and operations leaders. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Wabash College, in Indiana, USA.

Visit Dustin’s LinkedIn profile here

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