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  • Writer's pictureJon Elhardt

What is personalization?

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Personalization in Sales & Marketing

Personalization is the action of designing or producing something to meet someone’s individual requirements.

- Oxford Languages

The problem many sales and marketing folks often find themselves in today is the mentality of pitching to the industry and not the individual.

Now, don’t get me wrong, industries can have common problems, and if what your offering is good it will speak to several industries. However, until you make it applicable to the individual, it’s very difficult to get your prospects attention and cut through the noise.

This is even more important now with COVID increasing cold sales email outreach by up to 123% compared to pre-pandemic numbers, all the while the response rates have dropped to levels lower than before the virus impacted the world according to HubSpot.

The question then becomes, how do we pitch to the individual?

There’s a variety of ways to personalize your email, call or meeting to potential customers.

The very first step is to develop buyer personas for the job titles of people you are reaching out to. To develop buyer personas you need to understand your target titles, who those roles flow through during the deal cycle, their individual responsibilities, metrics important to them, common challenges and primary objections.

After that is established, you would then complete your buyer persona profile for each individual role or a combination of roles by writing out your value proposition for why they should change, why now and why you. For example you wouldn’t communicate the same message to a VP of Sales as you would an Account Executive. Not because the respect is different, but the challenges they face are unique to their role even though the solution (i.e. your product) can be the same.

People will be impacted in different ways depending on their role. Consider for a moment how the buying motive for the purchase of a new CRM differs throughout the company. An executive may be interested in easy reporting or access to data and analytics to make business decisions.

This same company may employ a CRM administratrator who will be interested in support and ease of administration. Finally, the front line sales people are always looking for ways to do their job quickly and more efficiently so a cumbersome CRM with a bunch of “Admin” will not drive user adoption.

So here we have 3 very different features of the same product that appeal to employees of the same organization differently.

When your prospect feels understood, they can then learn to trust you as a resource.

Ways to personalize

After you have buyer personas down you would then need to take personalization to the next level. This can and should be done in a variety of ways, but the key is using something as close to your prospect as possible.

This would include researching and referencing applicable information from their LinkedIn profile or activity, articles they or their colleagues have written, relevant news stories about their company, and/or any past information you or your company have on them or their organization.

If you’re struggling with finding any purposeful data, fear not, there are other ways to personalize a message to your target buyer.

These would include making a custom gif, video or voice message for them, sending a handwritten letter, and/or referencing a competitor of theirs that you are currently talking to or working with.

This helps to make your prospect feel more like an individual than a number. As your conversations and relationship with the prospect grows, you will be given more opportunities to customize future messages to them based on your increased understanding of their personal and work life. It’s all about engaging with the prospect through a series of touches, don’t fall in the trap of thinking that one of these techniques alone will be your silver bullet.

Clichés to Avoid

The main point to remember with personalization is that your message must be tailored to the receiver. A common mistake that we have all made is thinking mentioning the sunny weather in LA or snowy weather in Chicago is personal enough to grab a prospect’s attention, when in fact it is not. Other clichés to avoid are assuming that they are a fan of a sports team in their city or care that you are a fellow alumni. With smaller schools this may work, but without relevant content to their current role, these types of general topics are just more noise in their inbox or ears.

Keep in mind, to be relevant and make your prospect feel that the message was made specifically for them, a little work upfront goes a long way in building your pipeline and increasing your sales.

This is part 1 of a 5 part series. Next up in our series Part 2 titled Why Personalization, where we dive into the psychology, statics and history behind this custom outreach strategy.

Future blogs in this series include:

  1. How to implement personalization

  2. How to calculate how much time to spend on personalization

  3. Tips and tricks


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