Don’t just personalize… humanize!

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I’ve had this small complaint that has been top of mind for me for quite a long time now. In digital marketing, we always talk about the importance of personalization. Which makes sense on the surface. Address your contact based on what you know about them. 

What this actually means is that you address them based on the data you have in your database, which allows you to segment, target, and… well… “personalize” a communication to them. But is that really personal?

As the space of sales engagement continues to skyrocket, the notion of personalization is front and center for all the right reasons: Address your contact based on what you know about them.

To that end, we always advise that a little research can go a long way. To learn something about a prospect that can be used to demonstrate you know something about them is incredibly important and increases relevance.

But let’s be honest, there are many front line sales reps prospecting a net new list of leads who don’t know jack squat about their prospect, short of the data that is pulled in from their sales intel platform. That isn’t knowing a person.

It’s time to evolve this approach in the age of sales engagement. Go beyond personalization. We need to humanize our conversations with prospects.

The Bottom Line

We’ve all heard the notion that people buy from people they trust. Fair enough. Sounds straightforward. However, trust is not automatic. Trust is earned through an exchange of interactions and value. And the more human — the more real — the interaction, the more a path to earning trust can exist. 

We believe that this approach to humanizing sales conversations is built upon three main attributes: Authenticity, Empathy, and Helpfulness. We believe in this so much, that it’s our opening vision statement in our investment overview that we inked two years ago when raising our seed round.

From the InStereo archives: Our vision for humanizing sales and marketing engagement, straight from our Investment Overview.

Let’s break it down.

Be Authentic

Just be you. It’s okay to let your personality shine. It’s okay to let your written and verbal communications break from business jargon and marketing speak. In fact, loosen up and give your more laid-back, networking “happy hour” pitch. 

Prospects notice when you’re being real (because guess what, they’re human too!) They know when you’ve stepped outside the bounds of the email template. They can tell when you’re not reading a script, rather speaking from the heart. 

And that matters. Authenticity and sincerity matter. Prospects know when they are not being fed bullshit, which opens pathways to earn trust. 

Be Empathetic

Now that we know prospects are human too, let’s talk about why that’s important to remember for every interaction. 

Prospects have shit to get done. They have deadlines. They have stress. They have emotions. They have families. They are trying to deliver results. They are trying to keep their head above water. They are struggling. They are winning. They are struggling again. And everything in between.

You must prove that you get it. That you understand that whatever they are experiencing is real. And that’s ok. It’s not about you. It’s never about you. It’s always about them. 

Empathy is not, “Hope this note finds you healthy.” 

Empathy is not, “I know these are uncertain times.”

Empathy is listening. Paying attention. Showing you care.

Empathy is offering an ear: “I know your industry is hard hit right now. How is that for you?” 

Pause. Listen.

Empathy is acknowledging a challenge the prospect is facing, “I understand that high demand can create chaos for someone in your role. I bet that’s hard.”

Pause. Listen.

The need for empathy in sales existed before the age of the pandemic, it’s needed now, and it will be needed tomorrow. 

Be Helpful

The focus of your interactions with a prospect should be on helping them solve their problem, not selling them. Josh Braun talks about making deposits into prospect relationships. Help = deposit. Offer education. Offer content. Offer a point-of-view. Offer the truth if your product or service isn’t a fit, and then point them to one that might be. That’s being helpful. 

And the best part of being helpful: Prospects pay attention to that. It builds trust. And when trust is earned, business can be earned, either right away or in the future.


My challenge to all of you on the front lines, and to the managers who are coaching their teams, is to step out of your day-to-day for a moment to reflect on how you show up to your prospects. Are you just hitting Send All using the template baked into your next email step? Or are you taking some time to make sure you show up authentically, approach the conversation with empathy, and find ways to help your prospect in every interaction? To do so is to be human. Sounds like someone I’d buy from. 

If you found this post helpful, drop us a line. We’re here to listen and to share.  

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