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The importance of emotions on the buying decision

Nick Hague was recently interviewed by James Rostance on The 414 Live programme. Nick spoke about the influence of emotions on business to business decision-making following a survey his company carried out of 2,000 B2B decision-makers. The survey showed that 56% of the B2B decision-making process is based on emotional factors. Here is an abstract of Nick’s thoughts expressed in the interview.

"We don't leave our emotions at home when we make decisions. In business decision-making there are multiple decision-makers and the advent of the internet and digital marketing means that between 50% and 60% of decision-makers don't interact with a person until they have done their own research.

The whole B2B decision making process is made more complicated because there are usually multiple people to influence in the decision-making unit (DMU). This means that we have to drive different emotions along the purchase decision-making chain.

Let’s start at the beginning of the customer journey. At this stage people are looking at which suppliers are out there. They are working out who should be in their “consideration set”. An obvious point for marketers is that they need to be easily found by potential customers who are in search mode. We need to be omni-present.

35% of people said that looking at a company’s website influenced their decision to put a supplier in the consideration set. This means that a great digital presence is critical. However conferences and seminars are nearly as important with 31% of respondents saying that face to face contact influences who gets into the consideration set.

Growing in importance in influencing decision-makers is social media. Our survey showed 20% of people in the DMU admitted that social media influenced them when considering who to buy from.

The importance of social media is not surprising. What was surprisingly is that hard copy direct mail is just as important as social media. 19% of people said that it influenced them in their decision-making. In a world where we are bombarded digitally by messages, something landing physically on the desk can have a real impact.

Four emotions have a strong positive influence on decision makers: trust, confidence, optimism and thought leadership.

Trust and confidence are aligned around the company itself. Trust means reliability. Will the company meet my expectations and do what they promise? Do they have the resources? Confidence is slightly different. Having a strong brand is important in building confidence.

Trust and confidence are emotions associated with the company. Optimism and thought leadership talk to the personal aspects of the decision-making. Optimism arises from a decision maker believing that a supplier has an understanding of the customer’s business needs and is able to meet them.

Thought leadership is also important. 40% of decision-makers say that thought leadership is one of the biggest influences in choice of supplier. It feeds into the optimism that a supplier can deliver something that others cannot. And we shouldn’t forget that people making decisions want to look good within their companies and towards this end they want a supplier that delivers on its promises. Furthermore, a supplier that has a great reputation will make customers proud to use them.

These positive emotions have a huge effect on driving business decision-making. We should also remember that negative emotions can eliminate a company as a potential supplier. Uncertainty, scepticism and confusion will delist a company.

So what are we saying? We are saying that rational factors such as a good product at the right price, in the right place are givens. Of course they are important. However, these rational factors are used to eliminate suppliers. This means that the choice between a couple of contenders left in the consideration set is going to be made on emotional factors. Trust, confidence, optimism and pride are things to concentrate on. These emotions are built up over time by suppliers who show that they are reliable, knowledgeable, easy to do business with, and proactive."

And you can download the full report “Winning With Emotion: How To Become Your Customers’ First Choice” on


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