How Emotionally Connected B2B Relationships Increase Sales and Profits

By Janice B Gordon | sales training

Oct 24
Emotional Strength of the Relationship - Janice B Gordon

The strength of the relationships with your most valued customers enables you to predict and to sustain the performance of your business.

Statistics from Gartner Group reveal that 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of its existing customers. Customer retention costs are much lower than acquisition costs and retaining customers contributes to revenue growth, improved profitability and high-value referrals. I refer to this segment of customers as your most valued customers.

The premise of Scale Your Sales is to help sales leaders understand the driver of customer satisfaction and connection and to educate key account sales professional on how to build stronger connected relationships with their most valued customers.

Why: Strong connected relationships Increases and Profitability and the Lifetime Value of Customers

According to the CEO of Urban Ladder, a satisfied customer will contribute up to 2.6 times more revenue as compared to an unsatisfied customer. Satisfaction builds a positive relationship that will accelerate revenue from your most valued customers. The lifetime value of a customer is a benefit that comes from establishing significant trusted relationships and high customer satisfaction.

It is not good enough to just satisfy your customers, but you must understand that people buy on emotion and only then justify their decision with logic. Communicating with emotional drivers is essential in engaging and developing a trusted connected relationship.

Not only this, when companies connect with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge. Given the opportunity to create real value, companies must pursue emotionally connected relationships with forensic zeal and an applied strategy.

“For most, building connections is more guesswork than science. Research by Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, Daniel Leemon shows that it’s possible to rigorously measure and strategically target the feelings that drive customers’ behaviour. Referred to as ‘emotional motivators’: these motivators provide a gauge of the customers’ future intentions, better than any other measure, including brand awareness and customer satisfaction.”

Although brands may be liked or trusted, most fail to align themselves with the emotions that drive their customers’ most profitable behaviours.

Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, Daniel Leemon found that customers become more valuable at each step of a predictable “emotional connection pathway” as they transition from:

  • being unconnected to
  • being highly satisfied to
  • perceiving brand differentiation to being fully connected.

Fully connected customers are 52% more valuable. The analysis shows that moving customers from highly satisfied to fully connected can have three times the return of moving customers from unconnected to highly satisfied. Moreover, the highest returns come from focusing on customers who are already fully connected to your brand and maximising the value by attracting more of these most valued customers to your brand.

Relevant communication builds a trusted relationship. The relationship builds trust, and trust increases the revenue opportunities.

  • Relevant and insightful communication builds the relationships.

Communication builds relationships; if your customer is looking to purchase anything of significant value, the relationship must come first. Building B2B relationships is like dating, slow and steady communication to identify personalised emotional drivers and to discover shared values.

  • Test-drive the relationships to build trust.

Most relationships build consciously and cautiously. It is human nature to give a little bit of trust and then expect the receiver to earn more trust. Allow your customers to test drive the product and experience and offer no barriers to them trying before they buy. As the experience grows so does the trusted relationship, if the experience remains emotionally positive.

  • Trust increases recommendations and purchasing value and volume.

The more a buyer or influencer trusts you, the more the person will want to buy from you. Always do what you say (and more), do it when you said you would or earlier, you will be ahead of your competitors and building trust and credibility.

Modelling the financial impact of building emotional connections with customers at each step on the way from unconnected to fully connected. Research analysis  showed “that although fully connected customers constituted just 22% of customers in a category, they accounted for 37% of revenue and they spent, on average, twice as much annually as highly satisfied customers.”

Scale Your Sales system helps you to measure and monitor relationship connectedness with your most valued customer segments. Gallup has a customer engagement metric, to see how well your salespeople are engaging your clients. Another approach is the Net Promoter Score; I often use the net promoter questions informally to solicit feedback.

Enhancing emotional connection is a viable growth strategy to attract fully connected customers from competitors and transform satisfied customers into fully connected ones. Here are three ways of focus to build emotionally connected relationships with your most valued customers:

  1. Focus on Engagement

People buy from the people they like. People like people that share similar values and trust people that they like!

Too often; sales rep hide behind email communication for fear of rejection, however, it can be impersonal, and relationship building is personalised and personal. Face-to-face interactions and phone calls are the most direct form of communication. I always say follow-up on the follow-up in new and engaging ways, the more creative, personalised and engaging the better. Use stories, case studies, poems, personalised videos, mail letters or cards, be creative and engage with imagination.

Bain & Company found that customers spend 20 to 40% more with companies that engage them online. Given that we are in a socially connect information age and everyone is busy, sharing information via email and through social platforms as a combined online and in person follow-up strategy, works well. Periodic follow-up communication messages to your customers show you’re interested in their interests and concerns. In addition to this, the follow-up gives you a legitimate occasion to build the relationship and trust quota and to identify future problems and potentially purchase and connection opportunities.

  1. Focus on Listening

The best strategies to build stronger connected relationships and increase sales. Develop deep customer insight, a listening attitude and an active interest in the customer and their customers. Find out what customers want by asking strategic, open questions, listening and analysing the data responses. Regular feedback surveys and research-based conversations help you learn what customers expect and want from you and will also improve the relationship.

Salespeople must also listen to direct and indirect customer feedback presented through digital platforms. Listening by monitoring social conversations enables salespeople to contribute to positive interactions and reach out to customers when problems arise.

Get on the radar of the people you want to engage and influence by listening-in, liking, commenting and sharing the post. Join their groups to comment or start a conversation about a topic you both have an interest. Over time, these social strategies will build attention and engagement.

  1. Focus on the relationship to solve the problem

Knowing your strengths and core values are essential when determining relationship-building strategies, Scale Your Sales Motivation module help your salespeople determine this.

Warm conversations sharing values and a friendly smile go a long way towards strengthening customer relationships. The relationship delivers the sales opportunity but let us not forget, buyers buy from salespeople to fill a need or solve a problem. You must consistently provide quality products and engaging experience, relevant, personalised information and excellent service that exceed your customer expectations. The better the product outcome in solving the problem the less stress on the relationship the more opportunity to elevate the relationship to partnership and increase sales.

Leveraging emotional connection does not require turning your business processes inside-out, the Scale Your Sales system embeds relevant strategies into existing work streams and analytical capabilities. As with all change or improvement programmes, Scale Your Sales is most effective with senior leadership championing a customer-centric culture with the emotional connection a crucial cross-functional performance indicator.

Embracing an emotional-connection strategy across the organisation requires deep customer insights, analytical capabilities and a managerial commitment, to align the organisation with the new way of thinking not necessarily a change in technology. The relationship connectedness monitor shows the correlation of customers’ emotional-connection scores with lifetime value measures such as annual spending, churn, and tenure. Emotional connection is a source of real competitive advantage and predictable growth.

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About the Author

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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