As a species humans are drawn to connections and relationships. We look for ways that we can relate and engage with each other. It is why time and time again when surveys ask what are the most important aspects of life for people the answer is always relationships. It does not matter how much money you have in your bank account or how senior you are in a corporation if you go home to an empty house or an empty phone book, you will feel empty.
How many times have you tried to call a company and they pump you through their automated call answering system, when all you want is to actually speak to someone. There is nothing that can compare to a real live conversation between two human beings.
Yes, I admit, there are many situations where you do not need to speak to someone anymore, ordering food delivery for example. The process can be made more efficient by using an app or website. However, for any serious purchases, which most B2B purchases are, you would want to talk to someone.
How is this important for businesses?
When it comes to business it seems the phone call is more vital than ever. According to a study done by BIA/Kelsey the number of calls that customers will make from their mobile phones to businesses will reach 162 billion by 2019. This is more than double the almost 77 billion calls that were made in 2014. What is very clear is that regardless of the myriad of ways we have developed to communicate with each other (email, live chat, text, social), at the end of the day we are humans, and we still crave live interaction with other humans.
What is it about the actual conversation which is so important? Apart from the fact that it is the way that humans have communicated since we learned how to grunt at each other. Speaking to actual people helps to reassure us in business situations that the company is real. Conversations help us decide who to do business with. Conversations are so important that according to this study by Hubspot 35-50% of sales go to the company that calls back the customer first. Conversations are a tipping point for businesses, and help customers make the decision of who to go with.
The fact is your emails, Facebook page, LinkedIn profiles, Tweets, blog posts, website and all of your content marketing are wonderful, but they do not replace human interaction. They are used to help keep your prospects or clients engaged and informed. But when it comes to building the relationship which is so important in B2B sales nothing beats picking up the phone and having a conversation.
A study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute found that for the forth consecutive year more than 70% of respondents ranked in-person events (phone calls and meetings) as the most effective B2B marketing tactic.
How this impacts your sales?
People buy from people. If you are in a B2B business this could not ring more true. It is easy to forget that up until 20 years ago, for the entire of human history sales was a person-to-person job. Even when you are conveying a message online no one ever wants to read an email that starts with “Dear Sir/Madam” you want it to be personal. You want them to talk to YOU.
Salespeople need to remember that a meeting in person is worth a thousand emails. You want to build a relationship with your customer, you do not want them to look at your engagement as a transaction. If they view it like this then when someone comes with a better or cheaper mousetrap they will use that. Relationships last longer than the product.
In this age of digital marketing and Big Data all businesses are so driven by numbers. Even we in a startup are guilty of this, everything is tested and all decisions must be made by the data. This reduces the customer on the other side to nothing more than a number or a data point. If you pick up the phone you will realize there is a human on the other side and they want to be treated as such.
I am not for a minute suggesting that Amazon try to talk to all of their customers. Firstly, because I think there business would collapse and secondly because I don’t think every Amazon customers wants to speak to someone. This is not the case in B2B products, here your first goal should not be to complete the sale over the phone, it is to get a meeting or a coffee. You want to build the relationship with someone, no one has ever bought spare parts for their airline because the website had a clear call to action.
Lucky for us that technology has allowed us to communicate in many ways and to keep relationships alive. One example I can give from my own personal experience, I was trying to sign a large enterprise client in one of the phone conversations we had this client mentioned that he enjoyed hiking on weekends and was always looking for new places to explore. A few weeks later while I was online I saw a travel article about great hiking trails in the region and sent it to him via email. This email kept the ball rolling and kept me at top of mind. Now although the actual communication about the hiking trails was done over email, I would never have known about it if we had not had a real phone conversation where I asked him what he did last weekend.
The moral of the story with all of this is that we need to remember that sales is about creating human connections between people. It is so easy for us to reduce everyone as a “target” for the business. Developing and nurturing connections is a vital part of any B2B sales person’s job and the best way to do this is with a quick phone call.
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