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Among Forrester’s just released 2018 customer experience predictions is its belief that B2B firms will move from “just selling” to customer success management (CSM). It is their contention that CSM practitioners earn trust by strengthening CX management maturity practices to ensure that promises made to clients in the pre-sale period don’t fall into a post-sale transition gap.

Echoing Forrester’s prediction, I have long believed that for a growing number of B2B companies, the pathway to growth will come through CSM.  But what does this path look like?  Big data, technological advancement and overall customer expectations have undoubtedly added myriad twists and turns to this path.

As businesses of all sizes wrestle with these changes — and especially the pace at which they’re changing — I urge my clients to take a step back, breathe deeply, and remember that at the end of the day one thing remains constant:  people make decisions.  Sure, buyers use big data and technology to arm themselves with information.   And technology has been used to create channels through which we can talk to and connect with customers 24/7/365.

But, technology doesn’t have the power of emotion or persuasion. It doesn’t facilitate active listening and deep understanding.  It doesn’t allow for the authentic connections that drive storytelling, build trust and create relationships.  All this requires human interaction which cannot be achieved through automation and technology alone.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, B2B buying is very personal and filled with emotion – often even more than B2C given to the level of risk involved in the decision (such as reputation, advancement, etc).  And, the only effective means of engaging with a prospective buyer on this deeper level is via a humanized experience.  Baking the human element into your B2B customer experience and sales processes enables salespeople to connect more intimately with buyers and to deliver to them the highest possible value over the long term.