We all know about the importance of emotion in B2C. You don’t buy that dress/car/whatever purely for it’s functional benefit. In part, often in very large part, it’s to make you feel good about yourself.

L’Oreal ran a very successful ad campaign explicitly saying “Because You’re Worth it”. Usually vendors try to be a touch more subtle, but the point remains – buy our product and feel better.

In the B2B world, given the reality of considered, consensual purchases, lip service has often been paid to this concept. Interesting research by CEB has shed a new light on this, and suggests that B2B sales and marketing organizations should pay explicit attention to this.

Traditionally the role of the B2B sales person has been to emphasise the company benefits – the classic ROI, as well as personal productivity benefits. It’s been long held that “people buy from people” and personal relationships matter, but what has been neglected often is how the B2B customer emotionally connects not just to you as a sales person, but also to your company, as a brand.

CEB found that on average something like 5 stakeholders were needed to create a consensus to move a B2B purchase forward, and (as we all intuitively know), the critical element is in creating a mobilizer or internal advocate. What is interesting is that regardless of how persuasive the company benefits were, this had relatively little effect on mobilizing someone to step forward and push for the solution. We’ve all experienced this as the typical “everyone can say no, and no one can say yes” inertia of a B2B decision process.

More effective were personal benefits. CRM, for example, is often sold, not so much in terms of overall company ROI, but more specifically in how it can make the manager’s life easier with more reports and more control. Traditional tools like Salesforce limit this to the manager, but at SalesSeek, we are trying to extend this personal benefit to the individual sales person in reducing data entry, improving prioritisation and time management.

But the most effective way though to recruit internal advocates was the personal improvement in self-image that these customers could ascribe to your company. In short, we need to make people feel better by choosing our company.

So much for the theory. What actions does this translate to in practice? How do you (in the words of Josh Aarons) “cross the B2C-B2B divide“? How do we bridge the gap in social media between sharing gossip and researching business tools?

Open the Kimono. People like to know who they are dealing with, warts and all – it’s only the warts that let them know they are looking at real people, not some stock image hologram.

Have a Mission Statement. Something that your market can relate to and admire. Stand for something (which means standing against some things too..). See How to Write Your Company Mission Statement.

Gamification. If too obvious, and if the fundamental value isn’t there, this can back-fire, but Gamification can be a great way to reward and engage customers.

Do Cool Things. Have a classy office. Give nice thank you gifts. Make your app not just effective, but beautiful. Have pride in everything you do. Communicate that.

How do you recognize companies that pull this off? They have high rates of referrals as customers and even non-customers recommend them (SalesSeek: Check). Customers love them so much, they come and work for you (SalesSeek: Check). Your marketing swag mysteriously goes missing all the time (SalesSeek: Check).

It can seem a “soft” aspect of B2B Sales, but seal your internal advocate, and you will seal the deal. Making your customer feel good about your company is the most effective way to achieve this.