It’s a growing consensus. Sentimentality and a need to empathize are becoming more critical for a successful marketing experience. To say that it applies even to B2B prospecting is just the beginning.
On the other hand, those who got used to the old way of doing business might find it a wee bit squeamish. After all, business is business right? There’s got to be something wrong with getting all too generous and personal with customers (at least B2B customers).
Well, while you’re not exactly wrong, the idea that you need to have a strictly functional business relationship is still a little bit misguided. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a trend that favored personal, sentimental connections with customers.
Realistically speaking, it’s actually impossible to take out the role of emotion and empathy even from big business prospecting. But in defense of the old days and old ways, going against this new tide is a perfectly natural reaction for those who don’t want their business exploited via personal connections or compromised by sentimentality.
Try this approach instead if you want things a less touchy-feely but without entirely squashing empathy and the role of emotion.
- Redefine the objectives – If it’s your objective to, say, provide solid, accurate financial information (like when you’re in the accounting business), how can you redefine that in ways that go beyond mere function? You could use that as your reason to encourage business values like integrity or give advice on reducing overhead. You’re still fulfilling your objectives but in more ways than what prospects would usually expect.
- Share blunt, insider truths – If you style yourself and your business as a rough-and-tough industry leader, take it a step further. Be a bit blunt when sharing things about your industry that your customers still might not know much about. In tech for example, talk to them about fresh, serious matters like enterprise hacks, cyber terrorism, and the recent fracas about online privacy. It’s not good to use scare tactics constantly but if you think your customers could benefit from hard truths (or at least help them handle it), don’t be afraid to share.
- Lay down all interests on the table – If you’re the kind of sales rep or lead generator that just wants to close the deal, you can actually stand to be more transparent about it. Of course, it’s provided that your prospect is just as clear with their agenda when it comes to your products/services. Furthermore, whether it’s in the prospect profile or during the actual sales meeting, both you and your future customer need to take this to a level where there are no deals being made under the table. Simply put, be honest about your intentions while making sure they’re honest with theirs.
There might be some of you that simply do best in a world where there’s not too much sentimentality. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your business from being compromised by touchy, emotional attachments or social politicking. Still, if that’s your shtick, there are ways to keep it from being a less bad idea.