5 Love Languages… Business Edition

I’m enjoying the sales training session, and an idea struck me while we took a break. There’s a great book on relationships called “The Five Love Languages”, which talks about how people give and receive love. These days, business often feels like a marriage, and I think some of the tips in the relationship guide are transferable to the business setting. So, how can you make your partner in business feel loved?

Quality Time. “The Five Love Languages” mentions that some people feel “loved” when you spend quality time with them. I think we can all agree that some customers need quality time to feel comfortable moving forward with a business relationship. This may be taking them out for coffee or dinner, stopping by their office for a meeting, or finding a way to give them some face time on a regular basis.

Gifts. Just like a husband brings his wife a bouquet of flowers, a sales person might need to woo a customer with a gift. Gifts don’t have to be large or expensive, but a little trinket to show appreciation, remind them of your name, or keep the relationship moving forward might be the key to success.

Words of Affirmation. Most couples exchange encouraging words, and business relationships are no different. Maybe your customer likes recognition, and a simple phone call to say, “I appreciate your business” is the key to keeping the relationship strong. These types of customers also appreciate plaques or certificates to show their relationship with a company, thank you notes after a meeting or a purchase order, and generally bragging on your relationship and praising them for choosing to work with you.

Acts of Service. Some people feel most loved when you do the dishes, take out the trash, or get the oil changed in the car. Similarly, some customers respond best to an extra level of service. This customer might appreciate “the little things”, like hand delivery, discounts on fees, or saving them time by making all their travel arrangements.

We’ll skip the fifth love language mentioned in the book about romantic relationships, and focus on why the four types of “love” work for businesses. The key is finding which language your customer speaks, and giving them the type of attention that makes them feel most valued. Some customers could care less whether you show up to take them out to dinner every quarter, but they go wild when you send them pens or hats with the company logo. Other customers may feel slighted if you don’t send a thank-you note after they send in a purchase order, but don’t even notice if you haven’t passed out giveaways in several months. A good sales person will figure out what makes their customer tick; what language they speak, and find a way to improve the business relationship by delivering the appreciation that makes the customer feel most valued. So, are you a good partner?

2 thoughts on “5 Love Languages… Business Edition

  1. Everything seems kind of connected, doesn’t it? 🙂

    I suppose it all comes down to human relationships in the end… The difference is that I’d say the “Five Love Languages” establishes a 2-way communications channel for married parties to sustain a relationship.

    I’d agree that is how sales should go in general. (Especially since my new role is more of a focus on building an ongoing, continuous relationship with customers in an industry that’s largely “flash in the pan” / project driven. We’re also the first manufacturer in our segment to really be doing this, that we know of.)

    The difference comes into play when it’s more of a 1-way communication channel. Customers may naturally make it 2-way, but that’s pretty dependent on their personality, and on the nature of your relationship.

    Depending on your salesperson, the 5th love language (“Physical Touch”) comes into play as well. I haven’t gotten to that chapter in the book yet, but it all starts with a handshake (and those folks who have a “wet, dead fish” handshake always leave me feeling kind of leery.) This can grow to be varied–when you start to get really tight with a customer, you’ll be buddies–you’ll end up tapping them on the shoulder, patting them on the back, etc. (If you do this too early in a business context, you can really weird someone out.)

    But you’re right–these concepts build an atmosphere.

    I just found another gem on selling–Jeffrey Gitomer’s “Little Red Book of Selling.” On the very first page of the book: “The sale is defined by the Customer: People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. Your job as a master salesman is to create an atmosphere where people want to buy… If they like you, and they believe you, and they trust you, and they have confidence in you… then they MAY buy from you.”


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