One of the many things we learned in 2020 is the tremendous importance of human connection to our health and well-being. While technology has given us the gift of staying connected despite distance, time, and now, a pandemic, we know nothing can take the place of true human connection. According to Stanford Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative, and as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.”

We know that emotion is a critical part of the human connection. Our capacity for emotion informs, guides, and defines how we experience the world around us, how we navigate it, and our relationships with the things and humans within it. According to Kendra Cherry, author of The Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition), “Emotions help us to take action, to survive, strike and avoid danger…to make decisions…” In other words, while we may believe we make decisions based on logic, the fact is, every decision we make is really based on emotion.

So, what does this have to do with marketing and sales? Essentially, how we feel—not what we rationally think—about a product, service, or company greatly determines if we choose to make a purchase. Therefore, it’s important to understand that before we as marketers, salespeople, and brands can effectively sell our products and services, we must make an attempt to build a human connection with customers and truly understand the emotion behind their buying decisions.

The important question is—can we build effective human connections with our current customers as well as with potential customers who may have limited knowledge about our company, products, or services? Yes. Here are some simple suggestions:

Ask and listen.

Like any relationship you build, you must understand your client and what’s important to them in order to communicate effectively. Current clients are your best source of information when it comes to understanding the driving factors that make someone want to purchase your product or service. You must create opportunities for your customers to provide real-time feedback that allow for interactive engagement. Consider surveys, focus groups, customer advisory boards, as well as phone, text, and email outreach.

Just as important as the feedback from current customers is the feedback from those who checked out your company’s products or services but chose not to purchase. Provide opportunities for them to offer feedback about why they didn’t choose you and use that information to make marketing, product innovation, and customer service improvements.

Successful relationships require regular communication and check-ins, and that goes the same for the relationships your brand has with its customers. It’s critical to frequently ask questions to determine your customers’ level of satisfaction with your brand, and to make changes when you become aware of opportunities to improve.

Tell your story, and let it be told.

There’s usually a great story behind the beginning of a successful relationship, and there’s usually a great story behind the beginning of a successful company—a story that likely evokes emotion and humanizes your brand. Stories about your products, services, and customers are important, and are key in driving curiosity and authenticity. Tell your story, just like you would share your personal story with a new friend – remember, even in the b2b world, businesses don’t sell to businesses; people sell to people. Emphasize why your company’s story is unique and important. Share the story about how your organization is making a difference, not only for your customers, but through any charitable work your company participates in. As Simon Sinek put it best, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

While telling your story is important, don’t stop there. Instead of creating salesy pitches for your products or services, think of your customers as the champions of your brand’s story. Create opportunities for them to share how your products and services have added value to their organizations – and even their lives. Mixing your company’s story with your customers’ stories about your company creates a powerful, winning combination.

Show gratitude and be memorable.

Your clients have many choices in the market when it comes to products and services you offer. Competition is fierce in most industries. Today’s customers are savvy, do their research, and can tell when they are being “sold.” To stand out in the crowd, you want your company to be memorable, and not for mediocre (or worse!) customer service. In addition to ensuring your products and services are quality, you must ensure your customer service outshines the competition. Saying “thanks” isn’t enough. Go above and beyond by demonstrating true gratitude for your customers – phone calls, personalized emails or texts, and handwritten thank you notes go a long way. After all, relationships work better when one human shows gratitude and respect for another.

The takeaway.

While we provide a few basic ways you can build strong and lasting relationships with your customers, the overarching theme is this: approach every business decision—each marketing campaign, product innovation, customer service initiative, and hiring choice—as a step toward strengthening the human connection you have with your customers. Look at every communication/interaction “touch point” as an opportunity to humanize your brand by focusing on the emotions that drive customers to choose you.

Looking for a marketing partner to deliver results you can count on? Contact us today. We’re ready to help.