We tend to think that companies buy from other companies based on rational factors: Price, quality, customer service, etc … A purchasing manager don’t need to be told a story, he needs facts and data so he could make his decision. From this angle, there are no emotions involved in the process, on the contrary feelings could be seen dangerous. Unlike in B2C where items could be returned, B2B decisions must be carefully matured as they have a much higher risk attached to them. A bad decision could lead to a poor business performance and even cost your job …
But the Procurement Officer (if there’s one) is not the sole decision-maker in the company. Usually LoB executives have a great role to play in the purchasing process. Usually they are the ones requesting the investment and the way they select their suppliers is different from the procurement team. Those stakeholders do rely on emotions!
“Business decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally” (1)
There is a great misconception about emotions in the corporate world. Feeling emotions is different from being emotional. Trust, confidence, concern or suspicion are common emotions felt by business people.
Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council worked with marketing research firm Motista to survey 3,000 purchasers of 36 B2B brands across multiple industries (2). They found out that not only did the B2B brands drive more emotional connections than B2C brands, but they weren’t even close. Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.
Another interesting finding is companies are so focused on promoting their product performances that it’s becoming difficult for their prospects to differentiate the offers.
Customer Perceptions of Supplier "Unique Benefits" Q: "Do you see a real difference between suppliers and value the difference enough to pay for it?"
This is the reason why storytelling is so important to B2B. Not only using a narrative to create a deeper connection with the audience by triggering emotions is vital but it’s also a way to stand out from the competition. Again, appealing to emotions doesn’t have to mean making someone feel emotional. Reassurance for example is something you want your customers to perceive when reviewing your offer.
“Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”
You probably heard this catchline before and IBM marketers were genius to spread it around. Indeed, a study performed by CEB (division of Gartner) already showed 5 years ago that B2B purchasers are almost 71% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value such as opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice (3). In fact, CEB found that personal value had twice the impact as business value in the decision-making process. For brands this means it is more important than ever to focus on telling a story that resonates with the buyer on a personal level. When brands connect to people that way their impact goes further and it is much more likely to lead to a sale.
Should you need assistance in building or reviewing your company storytelling, let’s meet and talk about it over a coffee !
(1) According to Christoph Becker, CEO of Gyro