#3: You think B2B buyers make decisions differently than B2C buyers.
If I had a dollar for every time an intelligent, experienced B2B executive told me “Consumers make emotional decisions, but B2B buyers make logical decisions” I’d be retired.
The theory is because consumers make (most) purchasing decisions independently they’re able to act on their emotions and brand preferences, whereas B2B buyers typically need buy in from a team of decision makers, and this team needs facts – not feelings – to come to consensus. For years I also subscribed to this theory, because B2B buyers do demand things we as consumers don’t, like proof of performance claims and detailed technical specifications.
But I was wrong, and so are you.
This theory is so pervasive, giants CEB and Google teamed up to test its validity a couple years back. Here’s an excerpt from their final report:
Typically, B2C purchases are assumed to be more emotional than B2B purchases. Our research methodology allows us to test this assumption by directly comparing the emotional connections between customers of B2B and B2C brands. The results are quite clear and initially surprising: a greater proportion of B2B customers are emotionally attached to the brand they purchased than B2C consumers are.
What?!? So not only do B2B buyers factor emotions into their decisions, they actually do so more than B2B consumers? How is that possible?
The report goes on to explain:
Digging deeper, the high level of emotionality in B2B is not so surprising. B2B purchases entail personal risks —far more than most B2C purchases. B2B purchase stakeholders fear:
Moreover, the more personal risks a purchase entails, the more emotional buyers feel—and the more they attach to brands that can provide value and eliminate risk.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Ok fine, so emotions matter in B2B buying. How am I supposed to influence how buyers feel?” There are a lot of ways to do this, but a quick and dirty answer is by strengthening your brand.
Regardless of the product or service, a brand serves as a psychological shortcut to what the customer can expect. All things being equal, a well-known brand is more trustworthy than a lesser-known one. As the CEB/Google report states, B2B buyers’ decisions are guided by a desire to minimize risk, so suppliers with a more well-known, trustworthy brand will have a definitive advantage in a B2B deal.
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