B2B buyers are emotionless, robotic stiffs that compute rational purchasing decisions based on quantifiable metrics and measurable returns on investment like increased profitability, cost reductions, and enhanced productivity. I couldn’t agree more-except for the emotionless, robotic stiffs part.
There are certainly many experts with opinions that argue B2B buyers make purchase decisions based solely on rational corporate “needs” and that personal, emotional “wants” don’t or barely factor in. I disagree. B2B buyers have wants too, and to varying degrees, I think emotions, often disguised and even rationalized, also influence B2B purchase decisions.
There’s a great article that speaks to B2B buyers emotions in the most recent issue of B-to-B magazine, How Alpha Companies Dominate Non-Alpha Companies by Wes Ball, author of The Alfa Factor: The Secret to Dominating Competitors and Creating Self-Sustaining Success.
In the article, Ball compares nonalpha with alpha thinking companies, those rare leading businesses that have everyone else following their leads and customers aspiring to own their products.
“Alpha companies focus on what B2B customers want. Nonalpha thinking companies focus on staying ahead of the competition.”
“Nonalphas worry about the functional performance of their products or services. Alphas…focus on making their b-to-b customers feel better about themselves and smarter for buying their products.”
“Nonalpha thinking companies continually improve product and service. Alpha thinking companies continually address more and higher emotional and ego-satisfaction needs of b-to-b customers.”
Plenty here for a very interesting discussion, isn’t there? Well, I personally agree wants often enter into the B2B purchase equation. B2B marketing communications can and should include messaging and creative that addresses them. Many of the B2C emotional triggers that satisfy personal needs are also relevant influences to varying degrees for B2B buyers-like security, comfort, convenience, and in some instances I think even prestige and status (although probably somehow rationalized). Perhaps as “nonalphas”, non-leading brands, which most companies and brands are, it’s mandatory to communicate and answer functional needs. But when you can also communicate and differentiate your B2B brand by appealing to B2B buyers’ wants, you make a much more compelling sales pitch.