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By Maria Trizna September 20, 2018

The Secret Weapon in B2B Sales: Emotional Connection

Many B2B sales leaders still don’t recognize B2B purchase decisions as emotional. Even if business leaders, say they believe there’s an emotional element in the decision-making process, little importance is actually placed on marketing and sales initiatives that strive to create an emotional connection between the prospect or customer and the company brand.

Why Emotional Connection Matters in B2B Sales

It’s unfortunate that B2B sales and marketing activities are not structured around creating emotional connections. Research supports that B2B decision makers see a lot of personal risk and emotional involvement in supporting a particular vendor.

For instance, if a CRM system a VP of Sales vouched for doesn't deliver results and no one uses it, it's their reputation and job on the line. Likewise, if an IT director vouched for a multi-million IT stack investment that turns out to be a complete disaster, they will be the one to blame. B2B decisions makers often have a lot to lose if their decision doesn't deliver. And if that's not an emotionally invested decision, we don't know what is! 

The ability to connect with your customers on an emotional level to ease their concerns and strengthen their preferences for your brand has many benefits in B2B sales. Emotionally connected customers:

  • Buy more from you driving re-occurring revenue
  • Visit your website and store more often
  • Care less about price
  • Pay more attention to your communication
  • Follow your advice
  • Recommend you to others

Moreover, creating emotional connection with your customers helps increase profitability and growth. However, to create emotionally connected customers requires going beyond “customer satisfaction” or just mere interest, you need to understand your customer’s emotional purchase motivators. 

How to Define Emotions in B2B Sales

Perhaps the reason many business leaders are vary of backing emotionally-driven sales and marketing activities is because the term "emotional connection" is very ambiguous—what does it really mean to be emotionally connected? A study by Baine & Company on B2B Elements of Value has helped identify two emotionally driven categories in B2B decision making outlined below: Ease of Doing Business and Individual Value.

Ease of Doing Business categories include:

  • Productivity Improvements
  • Relationship components
  • Strategic Advantage
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Product Access

 Individual Value categories include:

  • Reputational Assurance
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Growth & Development
  • Design & Aesthetics.

With your marketing and sales team, hold a brainstorming session and pick a few categories in which your solution or offering helps your customers. Once you know how to define emotional value in a context that makes sense for B2B sales, it’s time to determine how to actually use this information to create emotional connection throughout the sales process and buyer's journey. 

From Guess Work to Strategy

Even marketing and sales teams that understand emotional importance in B2B sales find themselves easily frustrated by how much it seems like guess work, rather than strategy. The following steps bring a strategic approach to initiatives aimed at creating emotional connection with your customers: 

  1. Gather the data. Instead of focusing your attention on why customers didn’t buy, refocus on the bright spot and figure out what your top customers—those that spend the most money with you—have in common with each other. Also make sure to look at traits that set them apart from everyone else.
  2. Figure out the emotional purchase motivators. You already know basic information about your top customers, but try and see how much more you can add. Conduct market research to figure out which traits in the “Ease of Doing Business” and “Individual Value” categories are important to your customers. Avoid asking questions about how your customers feel about your brand, as what people say they feel may not always translate to how they act.  
  3. Link emotions to specific purchase behaviors. Now that you know what emotional categories are important to your customers, conduct analysis to look for patterns between these emotional motivators and behaviors your customers responded to throughout the sales process. These will be key to improving your sales process and buyer’s journey alignment.
  4. Segment the buying journey. Your customers emotional motivators will vary throughout the customer lifecycle, and it’s important to adjust messaging and sales activities to that. In your market research, make sure to define what motivates a new customer from those that have been purchasing from you for several months or years, as they will likely have different motivation for re-purchasing.
  5. Use your insight to strategically invest in improvements. Now that you and your team have a good understanding of what’s important to your customers, use that insight to invest your efforts in messaging, marketing, and sales activities that help your customers achieve their inner desires and motivators.

If you need an outside perspective on how exactly our organization should use emotions to drive sales, contact us for a personalized, 30-minute consultation with one of our sales experts.

Topics: Sales Strategy, Marketing Strategy

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