B2B International and gyro yesterday hosted a joint event to outline how large a role emotion plays in B2B decision-making.
Nick Hague, B2B International’s head of growth, set the scene by pointing to our recent study of over 2,000 business decision makers globally, which asked how they make choices about suppliers.
“The lengthening of the decision-making process in b2b doesn’t push emotions out of the way. In fact, it gives us an even better excuse to go deeper,” he said. “With longer b2b buying cycles and large, diverse buying committees, the ability to produce the right emotional response at scale is even more significant.”
Indeed, confidence, optimism, and trust came out in the survey as the three key emotions driving buying decisions.
And, with a whopping 95% of respondents reporting that feeling a connection to a b2b brand is as important as feeling confident about what it does, Matthew Powell, B2B International’s director of London, then spoke about what brands can do as a result of these findings. It’s clear that the rational and the emotional are ‘intrinsically linked’, he said, outlining how factors such as product features and price can determine emotions such as trust and desire.
Matthew’s advice included ensuring an omnichannel presence, focusing on customer experience, and setting out to create positive word of mouth. “This can help a company in getting through to the consideration set,” he said.
When it comes to jostling for position amongst other suppliers, Matthew recommended strengthening thought-leadership, communicating points of difference, and understanding customer needs as well as competitor strengths.
B2B International’s director of business development and sales, Conor Wilcock, then outlined how to become the first choice provider at that crucial, final stage.
“It’s not that it’s about gut reaction, or irrationality. But creating a feeling within the buyer is ultimately what our research suggests makes the difference between winning the business or being a runner up,” he told the audience.
In fact, our study revealed that having a strong emotional connection accounts for 56% of this final decision.
Conor then went on to outline the key emotions that dominate during this critical stage: Trust in the supplier’s credibility; confidence in its ability to deliver; optimism about what it can do for the buyer’s organisation; and pride in the prospect of partnering up with it.
He also pointed out that a new supplier as opposed to an incumbent will need to be particularly creative in terms of how it positions itself as reliable – whether, for instance, in terms of case studies, testimonials, or information on the website.
“You need to be able to provide a seamless customer experience,” he said. “And your behaviour and manner during the sales process and path to purchase is key, as the potential client feels this will be replicated later as a customer.”
What’s more, with the rise of content marketing, it’s more important than ever before to position your company as an expert, he added, pointing out that the survey data revealed that this then enables buyers to feel optimistic.
Meanwhile, pride comes from delivering on promises, and the ability ‘to make the client look good after the decision’.
Emma Rush, CEO and Beth Freedman, MD, gyro then went on to show, through a selection of case studies, how choosing a B2B supplier is far from a ‘rational tick box exercise’.
They gave the example of mobile payment company, Square, which sought to connect with small business owners in a way that felt emotionally relevant. Its ‘Square and Fair’ campaign, positioned the brand as the fair card payments system, and boosted brand awareness by 40%.
Meanwhile, for Fujitsu, hyper relevant targeting led to click through rates of up to 9%; and when Vodafone wanted to break into the IOT services market, its recognition of the fact that adopting new technology can appear complicated and expensive for SMEs led to a ‘tripling’ of the effectiveness of its content hub and an 11% increase of perceptions of the brand as a brand leader – clearly creating that all important confidence and optimism.
Emma highlighted in particular the fact that younger generations trust brands less than older generations. Purpose and ethics are important to Millennials, she said, concluding that how we create emotional connections and an engaged workforce is something that will play out particularly strongly over the next couple of years.