Don’t neglect emotions in B2B selling

When it comes to sales, you may not think you need to cater to emotions, but building the relationship is important for ultimately closing the deal. While you have a number of technical solutions to rely on in marketing and sales, you need to see leads as people and treat them as individuals. Using an online marketing system to gain better visibility into buyer behavior can help you craft unique sales messages.

Many successful marketing strategies in the B2C realm center around compelling storytelling and emotions. Some B2B brands neglect to take this approach because salespeople think their products will lead the way. There are more serious implications of buying the wrong business solution because it could negatively effect company profitability for years to come, according to an article for Ad Age written by Keith Navratil. Lower-cost consumer products do not carry the same risk. However, your target audience is still comprised of people, and buying software or business equipment is only one part of their lives. B2B buyers need to apply rational thinking to arrive at an informed decision, but emotions can still play a role – especially if they center around the benefits that your product can deliver to customers.

How important are emotions?

Analysis on a large number of case studies has proven that emotionally based campaigns outperform rational marketing materials in every aspect. Citing data from CEB/Motista survey presented at a 2013 Google ThinkB2B event, Navratil said that buyers’ emotional connections to B2B brands run deeper than with consumer-facing companies. For example, 40 to 70 percent of customers felt more connected to business brands, compared to 10 to 40 percent who were more connected to consumer companies.

While emotions have a role in B2B selling, it’s more difficult to successfully convey a narrative because there are more people to win over. It isn’t just one shopper like in B2C advertising. You need to demonstrate the continued value your product will provide throughout a customer’s organization. At the heart of B2B buying, gut reactions and instincts can drive purchasing decisions. The best-performing B2B brands demonstrate how they deliver value by forming an emotional relationship with buyers, Mindi Chahal wrote for Marketing Week. Because more than one person will ultimately be affected by the purchasing decision, B2B brands need to speak to the risk factors potential customers face.

Brand storytelling is key to expressing emotions in B2B

One of the best ways to solidify an emotional connection with buyers is through content marketing. Although buyers often trust their instincts, they still want to ensure they are making the best possible decision. Company success and potentially their employment hangs in the balance if they make the wrong choice. Content marketing is well suited to the purpose of forming an emotional bond with leads because it is more subtle than many traditional advertising channels. This tactic ensures not only that you’re convincing prospects they want something, but they are also getting what they need, according to a blog post for The Guardian written by David Williams.

Content is a highly effective tool for establishing trust and building credibility, and it also is a useful channel for Internet lead generation. Because it isn’t typically overly promotional, prospects are more likely to take it seriously. If you want to start introducing emotion into your sales approach, these are complementary strategies because content forces you to take a step back from just discussing the features of your solution to instead tell prospects what they need to know.

However, you need to create content for the different stages of the buying cycle. Varying emotions may be more relevant based on where a lead is in the revenue funnel. Content marketing efforts aimed at the initial phases of the buying cycle should speak to customers’ pain points. This can help potential clients feel as though their needs are understood. In later stages of the marketing funnel, leads will be looking for more specific information as they narrow their selections down to a few vendors or offerings.

Targeting is crucial

All buyers are different. Their companies will have varying purchasing processes and separate needs, making a blanket approach to marketing and sales less effective than it may have been in the past. Identifying separate customer segments and buyer personas can help your team better target leads, Chahal wrote. Catering to specific groups can help you establish the relationship in the early stages of the sales cycle.

A marketing automation platform can increase visibility throughout the revenue funnel and improve your targeting capabilities. With real-time updates on buyer activities, it can inform how your sales employees approach prospects. Having this prior relationship through lead nurturing campaigns can significantly improve salespeople’s abilities to close deals.