5 Ways to Unlock Emotions and Drive B2B Sales

If you know someone who calls himself an “Apple fanboy” or have a friend who is rabidly loyal to Pepsi, then you’ve seen the power of emotional branding.

As consumers, we’re used to companies playing on our emotions to sell us everything from toothpaste to beer to smartphones. But have you ever stopped to consider that the same people who believe that sparkling white teeth will make them more attractive are also buying software, office equipment and business insurance? Every article on B2B sales discusses the need to establish trust, build relationships and increase customer lifetime value. But how do you get there?

It’s not by reciting scripts, reading off lists of facts or talking feeds and speeds. As Elmer Wheeler explained, “Don’t sell the steak—sell the sizzle!”

In other words, spark a buyer’s emotions. Here are five ways to do just that.

1.Understand How the Brain Buys

It turns out that 95% of the buying decision occurs in our subconscious or unconscious mind. Our conscious thoughts focus on the information used to justify our emotional decisions.

Here’s how it works:

There are three main sections in our brains. The lizard brain (our most primal brain) and the limbic (which controls emotions) make 95% of the buying decision. The third area—the neocortex—is the rational brain. After emotions have kicked in, the neocortex uses facts and features to justify an emotional buying decision.

First, you need to get the lizard brain on board. Since this is where our survival responses are made, you want to calm the lizard brain. Assure it that not only is there no danger, but that there are advantages to listening to your message.

You sell the lizard brain with big, simple ideas, especially those that contrast where the buyer is now with where they can be with your product or service. For instance, their life will be easier, they’ll have more time, or they’ll look like the hero at work. Give the lizard brain a reason to listen. Explain how you offer a safe solution to a business problem.

Once the lizard brain is convinced that your message has merit, it allows other parts of the brain to engage with your message. Now that you can reach the emotional center of the brain, use your best storytelling skills to create compelling scenarios and memorable emotional images.

With consumers you may trigger interest by tapping into their desires for popularity, attractiveness, fitness, wealth and the like, but remember B2B buyers are human too. They have plenty of emotional triggers.

2. Use Emotional Triggers to Unleash the Desire to Buy

With the B2B sale, you want to trigger slightly different emotions than with the consumer sale. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Fear is a powerful trigger and comes in many forms. There’s fear of failure, lost ROI, or declining market share. And fear that the competition will get ahead. There’s even fear of the unknown—unforeseen problems that could rob a business of customers, reputation and even revenue in the future.
  • Pain is frustrating. And every department, business and industry have their pain points. You want to show that you not only understand the pain points but also that you have the solution.
  • Wonder is the excitement generated by something new. And that could be as simple as explaining how your company has cracked the code and offers the one new product or service that enables a company to grow and reach new heights.
  • Social proof builds confidence that you are the right choice. When buyers see others benefiting, they want the same for their company. And for buyers who answer to the CEO or board, there’s strength in numbers. Buyers don’t want to feel that they are risking the business or their job by choosing you.
  • Serial positioning makes you memorable. An interesting effect takes place in the brain when you share a list of points. Your first point is stored in the buyer’s long-term memory and the last point in short-term memory. So lead off with your most critical message.

3. Build Emotion into Your Brand

While you can use emotional triggers to stimulate a relationship and get an initial sale, a customer’s real value is in repeat sales—customers who keep coming back for more and even increasing their commitment over time.

You want customers who feel emotionally tied to your brand just like that loyal Apple or Pepsi customer who turns owning, using and consuming a particular brand into a ritual. In the consumer world, your brand ritual might be some quirky practice, like always eating the Oreo’s cream center first or squeezing an orange slice into a bottle of Blue Moon beer.

Building ritual into your B2B brand may not be as entertaining or quirky, but it can be critical to increasing your customer lifetime value. To make your buyers feel more emotionally tied to your brand, you can:

  • Be consistent with your messaging. Always use the same words or phrase to describe your number one feature and benefit. Let these become the words that your customers automatically use to describe your products and services. Create a memorable tagline. Think GE’s “Imagination at Work,” or 3M’s “Science. Applied to Life.”
  • Deliver an exceptional customer experience. Whether your buyers are coming to your website for new content and ideas or contacting support, make their experience easy and rewarding…always. And for that special touch, follow up with your customers to make sure they got what they needed.
  • Serve your target market better than the competition. Don’t let the sale stop with the purchase. Meet buyers’ needs in other ways. For example, your company blog could focus on topics of interest to your target market. Then when marketing posts a blog of particular interest, call or email your customer. By doing so, you’re building trust.

4. Start with Why

Consultant, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek introduced audiences to the power of WHY in his popular TED Talk. His message is simple, especially if you understand the power of emotions.

Most people sell by focusing on their product, which leads to a message filled with features and facts. They tell you WHAT they are selling. Then explain HOW it works. And they wrap up with an explanation of WHY you want it.

But what if you flip the order? When you start with the WHY, and your customer strips their emotional guard and begins to listen to your story.

Also, remember our point about serial positioning? You want people to remember the WHY because it stimulates emotional triggers, so it’s best to lead with it.

5. What’s Your Emotional Quotient?

We’ve all taken IQ (Intellectual Quotient) tests in school. But far fewer have tested their emotional quotient (EQ). Your EQ is about your ability to interact with customers, feel empathy and have compassion. This facility to connect emotionally can help you build a lasting, trusting relationship.

EQ is also about being aware of and able to read the emotions of others. When you can read a buyer’s feelings, you know how to adjust your message to them. Best of all, you are more likely to sense when the time is right to ask for the sale.

Having a high EQ enables you to control your own emotions, read the emotions of others and act appropriately. You can’t approach every sale the same because buyers have different emotional triggers and motivations. Unleash your self-awareness and become more in tune and empathetic with your prospective buyers.

Then back up your emotional sell with the logic they need to justify buying from you.

Emotion is a powerful tool to carry in your sales bag. In the words of life coach Rasheed Ogunlaru, “The only way to change someone’s mind is to connect with them from the heart.” So learn how the brain works, use emotional triggers, build emotion into your brand, start with WHY and make sure you and your team have high EQs.