Even B2B buyers are subject to emotional responses when completing purchases.

Let’s say you’re Jordan, a senior buyer for a major automotive company, and you’re about to place a purchase order for $300 million of automotive replacement equipment. Do you choose a supplier based upon emotion? Absolutely not. It’s been a rigorous process to get here. But let’s consider there are two suppliers on par for meeting your company’s technical requirements and are price competitive. Do your feelings about each company and your relationships with individuals who work at each impact your decision? Absolutely.

Andrew Dalglish, director at Circle Research, recently published in Quirk’s that: “… B2B buyers are influenced by their emotions too. It’s essential that any research into the B2B buying process recognizes this or it will give an overly rationalized, superficial picture.”

Emotions—and, of course, irrefutable analysis and logic—play into a purchaser’s decision-making process. Pride, confidence, admiration, hesitation, fear, discontent and a slew of other emotions affect how a B2B buyer views a business issue, how it can be handled and whom can address it.

Knowledgeable buyers have a solid understanding of how each alternative measures up. What a decision maker is trying to do is get comfortable with committing to one of the alternatives. No easy task when considering the unpleasant emotions getting “comfortable” evoke—fear, insecurity, discomfort, fatigue (to name a few).

Also bear in mind, buyers are managing questions and building a case with various stakeholders. This part of the process will hopefully induce pleasant emotions like interest, trust, contentment and confidence. But that’s if the purchaser feels comfortable or confident in the evidence he/she is presenting. There can be a lot of emotion behind the data.

Can Emotions Be Processed As Data?

Going further, can buyers and suppliers quantify the emotions impacting such decisions? Yes. Standard rational models of data collection no longer go deep enough, but currently there are several market research tools available that uncover the emotional triggers behind any decision-making process. Nonconscious motivators need be excavated and analyzed for a more complete picture as to why a buyer (or any consumer) would choose a product or service over another.

These techniques include physiological analysis:

  • fMRI
  • Biometric
  • Reaction time

And, psychological:

  • Facial
  • Imagery
  • Language

Psychological analysis is more cost-effective than physiological methods for analyzing nonconscious emotion, and the technique that uses language is the most scalable.

How Emotions Factor Into the Buying Process

For companies, understanding how B2B buyers make decisions—including the underlying emotional reasons—can mean the difference between teetering above last year’s profits or skyrocketing into the black. No matter the industry, how purchasers feel about your company will impact their decision to do business with you. If a buyer finds a sales representative interesting, kind or trustworthy, this may impact the decision-making process more than cents per million cost savings. In a study by the Hay/McBer Research and Innovation Group in 1997 carried out in a large national insurance company, they found that sales agents weak in emotional areas such as self-confidence, initiative and empathy sold policies with an average premium of $54,000, while those with strong pleasant emotional competencies sold policies on average worth $114,000.

As B2B buyers decide they’re interested in a product or service that will solve a problem, they will go through a series of steps. They’ll set their purchase criteria, search for suppliers and evaluate them. As they move through these steps, their likelihood of completing a purchase falters. It’s not until they move into the vendor negotiation phase that purchase intent surges again. Emotions factor in at this point. When the human connection aspect of the buyer’s journey—communicating with the sales representative and building that relationship—comes into play, there are emotions involved. It’s probable anything you can do to actively impact the individual’s emotional response in a pleasant way will increase the chances of a sale and future recommendations.

To learn more about how B2B buyers feel about your company, or about Emotion Intelligence in general, please connect with us.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

More News