The 7 "Emotional Hooks" for B2B Selling

Last Updated Aug 3, 2009 3:11 PM EDT

A Sales Machine reader writes:
I have been in B2B sales the last ten year or so. In B2B sales very rarely is the purchaser the end user, so what satisfaction does he get out of it? What emotionally will drive him? Can you tell me what ties the typical B2B purchaser to the sale emotionally.
Sure thing.

Marketing guru Seth Godin says that B2B buyers are just consumers buying things with other people's money. He then recommends having a compelling story that makes the customer feel good about buying. (See "Force Your Marketeers to Watch This Video!")

That's good advice. However, while there are definitely "emotions" that influence B2B sales, they're not the same emotions that you find in consumer purchases. In fact, there are seven unique "emotional hooks" that drive B2B buying:

  • Hook #1: Job Security. The buyer feels "safe" purchasing from you and your firm. Because he believes that you'll do an adequate job, he won't get fired or demoted.
  • Hook #2: Career Advancement. The buyer feels that buying from you and your firm will give him career points or position him for another job, either inside or outside the current firm.
  • Hook #3: Personal Achievement. The buyer takes pride in his work and feel that buying from you and your firm is the "right thing to do" based upon his own self-image as a good guy.
  • Hook #4: Internal Relationships. The buyer likes the people he's buying for and wants them to be happy. Or, in the case of ERP software, he hates them and wants them to be miserable.
  • Hook #5: External Relationships. The buyer actually likes the sales rep personally and therefore wants to please him. Or he hates the competitive rep and wants to stiff him by buying elsewhere.
  • Hook #6: Protective Laziness. The buyer sees buying as the path of least resistance so that buying from you quickly will let him return to whatever really interests him.
  • Hook #7: Simple Greed. The buyer expects to receive some sort of financial benefit from buying. Warning: this can take the form of a request for an illegal kickback.
Every effective sales message in the B2B realm -- when there's a buyer who's separate from the end user -- appeals to one or more of those emotions. Absent those emotions, sales don't take place.

Does this mean that you can make a sale simply by manipulating those emotions? Probably not. B2B buyers aren't that stupid. But there are emotions involved, and they do play a role.

READERS: Have I missed any emotional hooks?