While it may seem like technology and data rule the day in sales, there’s nothing more valuable than a personal connection during the buyer journey.

Even though today’s prospects conduct their own research by consuming the content companies offer online, buyers want meaningful interaction with salespeople (29 percent face-to-face, 20 percent phone, according to internal research conducted with Forrester) by the time they reach the Buy stage. Others (18 percent) still rely on peers to influence buying decisions.

In fact, the one constant throughout the buyer journey is peer influence, which can take any number of forms. It’s critical for sales to recognize the power of peers and craft content that speaks directly to them, as well as to decision-makers.

If you can’t create immediate opportunities for those critical face-to-face or phone interactions, it stands to reason that your complementary messaging – in emails, on website CTAs, or in marketing collateral – should have an element of personalization for specific audiences.

According to Octiv CEO David Kerr, speed matters at the Buy stage. “If we’re choosing between two products, the response time and personal approach of a vendor can make the difference between moving to the final stage of the sales process and choosing someone else.”

But the buyer journey doesn’t end once a final decision on a solution has been made; for companies serving customers, that journey is just beginning. This is when personalization, customer experience and commitment to education are most critical.

After the sale is done, it’s more important than ever to engage. In-person sales interaction is most important at this stage (38 percent), with vendor websites a close second (32 percent).

While it rests with the vendor to provide ways to educate their new customers on use, integration and adoption, the element of personalization should extend to the oh-so-important website, tapping into critical customer data in order to create a meaningful online experience.

A personal touch clearly has statistical strength when it comes to sales. The companies that master this element, driven by strong customer data, will be the ones to win customers and advocates.