3 facts about emotion in B2B decision making

25th March 2019
Author: Zoe Chinery
Posted in: Behavioural science

In the words of Destiny’s Child: It’s just emotion that’s taken me over…

When you make a decision do you lead with your head or your heart?

We’re all aware that emotions play a big part in the world of B2C decision making; however, a common misconception in B2B marketing is that decisions made in the workplace are not influenced by our emotions at all. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whether you work in B2C or B2B, the customer is still human. It doesn’t matter what facts and figures are on the table, us humans make a majority of our decisions based on emotion.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three facts about emotion in business to business decision making…

 

1. The emotional brain regularly overrules the rational brain

Firstly it’ll help if we look at how the human brain works. It’s with thanks to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow that we know the brain has two sides, an emotional side and a rational side. These two sides are more commonly known as System 1 and System 2.

As humans, we need to be aware of when our brain is playing tricks on us. Case in point, think about any optical illusions you may have seen, it’s very easy for the brain to become convinced of something completely incorrect even when the facts are clearly presented to us. During the process of seeing these illusions, our System 2 (analytical) brain is overruled by our System 1 brain (intuitive).

If the human mind is left to its own devices, it tends to make systematic errors that can lead to expensive mistakes and bad decisions. We like to think that we make decisions rationally, but the actuality is our emotions play a significant role in the outcome. This stands true in both B2B and B2C decision making. 

 

2. Business value doesn’t drive B2B decisions

A study by Gartner revealed that it’s hard for buyers across different industries to see a significant difference between brands when it comes to business value. So in that case, how do we make these purchasing decisions?

In steps emotion.

A major study carried out by Google, Gartner and Motista in 2013 shows that B2B buyers are more emotionally connected to the brands they purchase than consumers are. Of the nine B2B brands in the study, it was revealed that seven of them had emotional connections with more than 50% of their customers.

This study is a clear reminder that at the end of the day B2B decisions are made by human beings. And as humans, we see the consequences of our choices in personal terms, not just professional ones.

 

3. High stakes equal high emotion

Let’s think about consumers for a moment, typically it can be said that B2C purchasing decisions are low stakes investments. Think about it, if you buy the wrong sized jacket the likelihood is that it can be easily returned and you get your money back, or you exchange it for a different size. Easy, not much risk involved.  

If consumers make a bad decision the consequences are usually short term and nine times out of ten resolvable.

However, on the opposing side to this, B2B decisions have a much higher risk attached to them. A bad decision at work could result in being overlooked for that promotion, or worse, cost us our job.

The riskier the decision, the more we rely on our emotions, instincts and memories to make it.

But with high risk comes great reward, right?

Let’s think about what happens when we ultimately make the right decisions at work. The rewards can be huge. A nice pay rise, a big promotion plus more respect from our colleagues. Not only does this benefit us as individuals but it also has a positive impact on our families and our future.

 

Ultimately we need to remember that B2B customers are human and every single person is influenced by their emotions when making a decision.

When thinking about your brand, be aware that the best way to give yourself an edge over your competition is emotion. It’s the critical component for building a powerful, trustworthy brand.  Aim to provide your customers with great experiences at every point, and as a result, you’ll gain a loyal following.

 

Missed our recent webinar on the power of emotion in B2B? 

Catch CEO & Founder of Turtl, Nick Mason, alongside two leading industry experts, Richard Chataway, Founder at Communication Science Group, and Imogen Hammond, Creative Director at Inition as they discuss the power of emotions in B2B and why that matters as a modern-day marketer.

Click to read It’s Been Emotional Webinar Recording