Marketing & Growth

Increase B2B Sales by Focusing on Customer Emotions

By Rieva Lesonsky

Traditionally, B2B buying has been seen as driven by logic and reason. Recently, however, B2B marketers have begun to understand that emotion plays a large part in business purchasing — just as it does in B2C purchasing. A new study by CEB drives home just how important B2B customers’ emotions are in making the sale, and suggests some ways that you can tap into emotions to sell more successfully.

The Internet is driving the growing importance of emotion in B2B purchasing. Today, B2B buyers do much of their research online, gathering information about potential suppliers or vendors and narrowing the field to a few top contenders before they even contact the companies. As a result, “business value” — the value of a purchase to the business, which was once considered the sole factor in purchasing decisions — has become less important. Buyers won’t even contact you, the study says, unless they’ve already decided your business offers them business value.

But what matters most is personal value — the value your company can bring to the B2B buyer as an individual. B2B purchasers are almost 50 percent more likely to buy a product or service, and are eight times more likely to pay a premium price for it, when they see personal value in it.

Personal value comes down to emotions, both positive and negative. Here’s a look at some of the emotions you need to keep in mind when marketing to B2B buyers.

  • Professional benefits (such as being a better leader or simplifying your life)
  • Social benefits (such as fitting in with colleagues or being admired)
  • Emotional benefits (such as confidence, excitement, happiness),
  • Self-image benefits (such as being helpful or having a feeling of accomplishment)

In addition to these positive emotions and benefits, there is also a lot of negative emotion involved in any B2B purchase. For example, corporate purchasers may be worried about wasting time and effort, losing credibility at work or even being fired if they make the wrong purchasing choice. Small business purchasers may worry about wasting their hard-earned money on the wrong purchase, or buying a solution that takes too much time to implement or is too hard to learn.

To find out more about what emotions motivate a particular B2B buyer, take the time to get to know them. Ask open-ended questions like:

  • What is important to you as a [job title]?
  • What is the easiest part of your day?
  • What is the hardest/most challenging part of your day?
  • If you could eliminate one daily activity, what would it be?

The answers to these questions will help you determine what personal value you should focus on in working with that buyer.

Traditionally, B2B marketing has emphasized product or service features and provided a great deal of detail. However, the study points out, B2B buyers can now find these features on their own online and will already know about them by the time they contact you. As a result, you must now differentiate your business by emphasizing the benefits (that is, personal value) your product or service provides. Is it easier to set up than the competition’s, so there’s no downtime? Is it more efficient to use than the competition’s, allowing the business to be more productive? Will it make the buyer a hero at work, free up two hours in his day or eliminate a daily task she hates?

Focus more on “what’s in it for me?” and less on “what’s in it for my company?” and you’ll find yourself closing more B2B sales.

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