With so many ways to connect with customers across a seemingly infinite array of touchpoints and technologies, it’s easy to get distracted among all of the choice and complexity. Too often, B2B marketers forget that the target they are after is a human. And humans, as we know, make decisions based upon feeling more than reason.
There is also a natural tendency to focus marketing on influencing the biggest decision - winning business and securing the deal. But the reality is that this is only one critical moment, among many, that creates a lasting relationship.
To better understand the crucial moments and key feelings that create and sustain successful business relationships, the Business Feeling Index (BFI) was launched by the Financial Times (FT) Commercial Insight Group in collaboration with gyro, a leading global B2B agency. More than 300 Financial Times readers participated in this extensive global study. It strikes at the core of what senior decision-makers felt during the four pivotal stages of a recent business relationship. These four stages are precontact, initial conversations, working together and finishing the work.
FT readers also discussed what, ideally, partners could have done better during each stage to have built a stronger relationship and, in turn, achieved greater success. Throughout each stage, the majority of respondents reveal one feeling that rises above the rest – the desire to feel confident about their partner. Once established, this feeling must be sustained (if not intensified) to ensure the success of the relationship.
The most effective drivers of confidence are thought leadership, shared cultures, constant communication and the ability to navigate relationship issues. Other seemingly important factors such as size of business and awards won fell to the wayside. Each was labeled among the least important factors. This report offers a detailed view of the customer relationship that will shift the focus from what customers need to think to what customers want to feel. It is supported by data that proves which feelings are most important to inspire at the key inflection points across the decision journey. It also explores the pitfalls where partnerships cease to be and hard-earned current clients become ex-clients.
The findings in the Business Feeling Index should be used as indicators for your existing and future relationships. But, most of all, don't forget what is most relevant to your customer: their feelings.