Taking into account people’s natural aversion to loss and risk when formulating your B2B marketing content strategy can help put key stakeholders under your spell and influence their decisions, says Tim Lennard
Commercial decisions almost always include a level of uncertainty, and while this can be reduced by providing relevant supporting analysis and insight, it can never be completely eradicated. After all, we’re all human right? This means our decisions aren’t solely based on facts.
However, B2B sales and marketing teams often fail to take this human factor into account when engaging with customers. Emotional triggers feature strongly in consumer advertising, and they can also prove highly effective in B2B. For example, people’s natural aversion to loss and risk can be used to influence customers’ actions and decision making. Taking this into account when developing your stakeholder engagement plan and content strategy can prove crucial in closing sales and renewing contracts.
Behavioural science has shown that people are more willing to take risks to avoid a negative outcome than they are to make an equivalent gain. This is down to humans’ innate loss aversion, which means the psychological pain due to a loss is felt more keenly than the euphoria sparked by a positive event. This phenomenon plays out in B2B relationships, helping explain why there’s nothing worse than a customer scorned.
Failure to deliver on a promise and letting a customer down is likely to trigger a search for a new supplier, regardless of the risk that might be involved in terminating the contract. This is rarely the case if another supplier offers a great deal, better value or the promise of improved service levels.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE COUNTS
This underlines the importance of delivering an exceptional personalised customer experience across the customer journey. It also highlights why optimising the much-neglected post-purchase customer success phase of the sales cycle is key by taking an account-based approach to deliver regular engagement to key stakeholders that uses tailored content to add critical value. This strengthens the business relationship and constantly reminds stakeholders of what they’ll be missing if they don’t renew your contract, skillfully playing the loss and risk aversion game.
Not only does this improve your chances of renewal, it also builds your reputation and helps unlock opportunities to grow the account in new areas. Why? Because our fear of risk means stakeholders love a safe bet, and the right account-based approach fuelled by content that puts your services in perfect context for your customer will set you up as a gift horse they won’t need to look in the mouth!
To be influenced by the promise of a solution’s positive outcome, customers tend to want more certainty that the benefits will be delivered, keen to reduce the risk factor more than when preventing a negative outcome. So, it’s vital to back up your performance claims with strong evidence. Not only compelling statistics, but more importantly examples of the success your solutions have driven in the real world. This makes engagingly presented and creatively delivered compelling testimonials and strong case studies a vital part of your account-based content plan.
THE FRAMING FACTOR
This contrasting emotional response between positive and negative outcomes can also help influence the choices stakeholders make. It’s long been known that effective presentation can have a major impact on securing a sale. This is because choice can be influenced more by how information is framed than the information itself.
In this case, the rule is reversed, with positive framing having a bigger impact than negative. For instance, saying “computer vision significantly improves the safety and security of your people and customers”, rather than “not upgrading your legacy security systems with smart IoT surveillance can put your employees and staff at unnecessary risk”.
Framing is used frequently by brands marketing to consumers. Cleaning products make claims like they kill 95% of known germs, rather than saying only 5% survive, because it has a greater positive impact on people’s decision making. Framing your solutions in this way and emphasising the positives they bring personally to each stakeholder through tailored content and communications is also more likely to trigger a sale.
The B2B landscape has never been more competitive. Taking a more human approach in this way by tapping into behavioural science to inform your account-based approach can help you to gain that all-important edge over your rivals by swinging decisions your way, and growing business.
- Emotional triggers feature strongly in consumer advertising, and they can also prove highly effective in B2B.
- Recognising people’s natural aversion to loss and risk when formulating your account-based content and engagement strategies can prove crucial in closing sales and renewing contracts.
- Buyers are more willing to take risks to avoid a negative outcome than to make an equivalent gain, so letting a customer down is likely to trigger an immediate search for a new supplier.
- This highlights not only the importance of a good, consistent, personalised service, but also of engaging regularly with key stakeholders to remind them of the value you are bringing to them and their business.
- To be won over by the promise of a solution’s benefits, customers tend to want more certainty that they will be delivered. This makes compelling testimonials and strong case studies a vital part of your account-based content plan.
- Ensuring your content and communications frame your solutions in a positive way to individual stakeholders is more likely to trigger a sale than taking a negative approach.
JPC associate Tim Lennard MSc, FCA, BA has 30 years’ experience in B2B sales and marketing and an MSc in Applied Psychology and Economic Behaviour. His 2022 study is entitled ‘Bias in Commercial Contract Renewals – the case for a Nudge’.