When I wanted to learn more about relationships, I did what I always do to learn about a subject: I picked up a book. This time, it was Gary Chapman’s bestseller, The Five Love Languages.
As a pastor, Gary worked with couples who loved each other but had different communication styles, primarily in how they expressed love. It sounds odd, but communicating love profoundly affects relationships. If you don’t understand each other’s languages, it’s pretty hard to build bonds and trust.
This got me thinking about our go-to-market jobs. Our businesses depend on us building bonds and trust with customers and future customers. What can the five love languages teach us about better prospecting buyers?
How Revenue Teams Apply Love Languages
Gary’s book identifies five love languages:
- Words of Affirmation.
- Acts of Service.
- Receiving Gifts.
- Quality Time.
- Physical Touch.
Each one is important and expresses love in its own way. You can actually take a quiz to determine which language best speaks to you, and ask those around you to do the same. I find it super helpful not just with my husband, but also with my kids and the folks I work with.
Asking buyers to take that survey would be creepy. But revenue teams can still apply love languages to their work and help buyers feel the love.
Acts of Service
In our personal lives, acts of service include things like doing the dishes or making coffee. In other words, being helpful. What a novel idea for prospecting!
Many business-to-business (B2B) sellers have adopted the Challenger sales model, which teaches sellers to educate, educate, educate through a process called “rational drowning.” It used to really work, but with every company now drowning prospects in information — sometimes conflicting information — it’s made B2B sales even more complex than ever. To succeed, we have to make it easier for buyers, what Gartner Inc. flat out calls “buyer enablement.”
Our team has practiced providing help and “acts of service” because we know an account’s buying stage, which lets us thoughtfully help buyers according to their specific stage. Vendor comparisons or demos don’t enable early stage buyers, but acts of service like an assessment, case study or e-book help buyers begin their journeys.
A hug, a snuggle, a pat on the back — physical touch makes us feel appreciated and valued in a relationship. And buying is still about relationships. We have tons of technology to help us build relationships, but at the end of the day, people still buy from people they trust, who they feel know them best.
I wouldn’t advise going around and snuggling your prospects, but getting on-site and having face-to-face conversations matters. Our company’s head of sales challenged the go-to-market team to get in front of customers and prospects as much as possible. Now when we’re on-site, we take photos of the team with our customers. It’s been fun but also incredibly effective in helping our team engage more with buyers.
Sometimes it’s not cost- or time-effective to visit in person, but you still want to connect with prospects. So turn on your video! Business development representatives can easily whip up a video and personalize buyer interaction. For us, video has helped increase win rates and deliver an industry-leading Net Promoter Score. Even little touches like adding pictures to an email have yielded us much better connections with prospects.
My 11-year-old is all about quality time. Whether it’s going to the store or watching a show, he loves spending time together.
Most of today’s prospects won’t respond to your four-step email nurture. It often takes a lot longer. We have to invest quality time, which means we need better orchestration across our tactics — email, video, content and sales outreach — and much better coordination between teams. That way, we can spend the right amount of time with buyers on their journeys.
Our team’s multistep, multi-tactic orchestrated approach has increased conversions significantly. But it’s not just about spending more time, it’s about quality time: personalizing your engagement for the buyer persona, target account profile, timing and intent keywords is what makes the time count.
My sister-in-law loves gifts. She wants everyone to have the perfect gift for Christmas.
Gifts show love to customers and prospects, too. Used appropriately, direct mail can get great engagement from buyers. Timing matters. Just like how getting a fancy necklace on a first date is weird, you should only send gifts at the right time. A good gift really speaks to a buyer and shows you know them.
Our team tracks intent signals and knows exactly when to trigger mailings so that gifts arrive at the ideal stage of the buying journey. We know when a gift moves a buyer forward in their journey — and when a gift would send them running for the exit.
Words of Affirmation
This is my 12-year-old: “Mom, how do you think I did at my game?” “Are you proud of my grades?” He really loves when we specifically call out and encourage what he’s doing.
Think about this in your content and how you serve up content to customers and prospects. Are you just saying general things? Is your content hub a smorgasbord — everything a buyer could want but no direction on what’s best?
Sharing specific feedback and ideas with prospects affirms you know them well. This is hugely important for us. Our intent keywords curate content experiences based on what we know buyers really want and need at their stage of the buying journey.
While I’m unequivocally more qualified to give recommendations on account engagement versus relationships, I had to share how The Five Love Languages changed my thinking. It strengthened my marriage and broadened my personal and professional relationships. Our team has run with these lessons, too. They’ve put the buyer first and used technology to show love at every stage of the buying journey, which has helped them close more deals and build better relationships.
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