More business to business (B2B) companies should take their creative cues from business to consumer branding (B2C) if they do not want to be considered dull, unengaging and stayed.
The business world has changed, such that a corporate tone of voice associated with B2B sales communication is no longer valid. Take a look at HP’s “The Wolf” campaign, with Christian Slater, which makes printer security look interesting, engaging the business audience with personality. The content pokes fun at the boring topic and the stereotypical office culture. It identifies an invisible problem in real, relatable terms. The video is double the standard length, but this risk pays off with viewer watching to the videos end.
Why Marketing and Sales Must Leverage B2C Lessons.
Change in the sales process is in keeping with the workplace cultures that are evolving to meet the needs of the majority workforce who are millennials. B2B sales and marketing communication strategies must develop with the preferences of their audiences. The sales communication that once seemed business like now feels outdated and worse relevant. Sales language in business has changed to be personal, casual and personalised to the intended audience. Buyers see through even the soft sell and demand more personally targeted value propositions in a language that engages them personally.
With almost 50% of the customers searching for your service being millennial B2B buyers or millennial customers and influencers: change is not an option. The millennial generation has grown up online, they spent hours watching online videos, they freely sharing details of their personal lives. Millennials are shaping the business working environment that welcomes casual dress, children and pets in the office, telecommuting and virtual team working. The former is the context in which your sales communication must stand out and be heard.
How Marketing and Sales has Changed
You would never buy a car before you tried it out. Today there are many ways to experience a product or service virtually and physically with demos and test drives, peer reviews and testimonial, case study and independent comparisons.
B2C and B2B customers today expect to try before they buy, which has given rise to experiential marketing and customer experience, an essential measure of the sales and purchasing process.
If customers cannot experience your products or service they will not purchase, you must take the risk out of the sale. In B2C the return policy is a critical part of the value proposition in the transaction. The in-person experience is not always possible, and so your online pre and post engagement must be consistently and seamless in the experience you want to convey. Engaging through mobile sites/apps, games, simulations, social campaigns and in-depth reviews must be consistent with face to face sales enablement. Customers can now try on eyeglasses without even leaving their home, ease of use and convenience may be your best B2B differentiator. The bigger the value, the bigger the experience you must provide your buyers and customers pre and post-purchase.
People are the same whether purchasing B2C or B2B, even more, reason, to understand the emotionally personal drivers and perspective of the various individual in the customers’ decision-making purchase unit (DMU).
You may have the best product for a specific buyer and customer, if you want to reach millennial buyers then speak their language, use their words, their tone of video and visuals to engage on multichannel with sophistication and personalised emotional connection.
Your Customer is Not a Monolith
The people search must find, engage with and trust your sales communication. They may not be part of the decision-making purchasing unit as personal assistants, but they are influencers or gatekeepers. These influencers may not have the ranked position but are highly influential in your solution getting on to the DMU shortlist. Be generous to everyone you come across your personality and efficiency is a qualifier that helps them to sell you internally. Every relevant influencer must find you for your solution. You must tell your sales communication story in several different mediums to many different buyers and influencers and connect them all personally.
The mistake many marketers and salespeople make is thinking they are selling to a company that has a defined purchasing process, when in fact they are selling to uniquely different individuals the only common denominator is the company. However, all have varying perspectives on the solution. Selling to a human and especially to millennials requires out of the traditional sales box thinking.
B2B Stories Connect Emotions
According to Google, “On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”
You can read more about being emotionally connected in my article where storytelling, reviews and testimonials are also essential for building B2B emotional connection. You can elicit emotions and can transform any problematic or complex conversations with stories.
B2B sales communications that connect emotionally with buyers and customers create double the impact than those that conveying functional benefits and value. In this research, Google partnered with CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council and discovered that when selling on value alone 86% of B2B buyers cannot distinguish your brand message from any other.
I recently read and would recommend the book Business Storytelling for Dummies by Karen Dietz and Lori Silverman, in the chapter ‘What to do about data’ it shows you how you can use storytelling to convey the data. Like HP’s ‘The Wolf’ campaign, boring is no longer an option.
One-size no longer fits all. The decision-making unit is not a monolith customer, and your sales communication shouldn’t be either. You must understand all the facets of your buyers and customer preferences. Discover what you have that engages your buyers, listen and pay close attention to what your most valued customer says and do, then engage with emotional connection.
Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular the sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Strategic Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice today about Scaling your Sales
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