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Many emotions in B2B decisions

Fredrik Hansson Copywriter/Senior Partner April 27, 2020

There’s a common belief that consumers make emotional buying decisions (B2C) and professional decision-makers make rational ones (B2B). But is that really true?

Well, a buying decision in B2B starts out rationally. A machine that produces packaging needs new supplies now and then. That’s not a decision you want to put off, because the financial consequences of unplanned downtime can quickly shoot into the millions.

But once you’ve made a decision to buy something, you embark on a journey to choose the right supplier—the one you trust to deliver what you need. That journey involves an array of emotional situations. Here are some examples:

  • B2B buying decisions are often made in groups. You have one opinion, your colleague has another. Once you finally agree, the manager comes into the picture—with yet another opinion.
  • B2B buying decisions often involve large sums of money. If you choose the right supplier, you’ll be praised to the skies. If you choose wrong, it may be your career on the line.
  • B2B buying decisions often take time. You meet with multiple potential suppliers in multiple meetings. Some make very little impression, others feel shady, and some earn your confidence.
  • B2B buying decisions often involve a complex big picture. Not a product, but a system. Not a price, but a total cost. Do you dare to plump for an unknown supplier, or should you go with the devil you know?
  • B2B buying decisions often have international contexts. The way we do business differs due to many factors, including corporate culture. There is no right or wrong, just different opinions on what is best for your company.

There are situations in B2C as well where emotions drive buying decisions. For example when choosing a car, buying a home or booking an expensive vacation. Some brands have also succeeded in building up an emotional aura. Ask any restaurant server what happens if you serve a guest Coca-Cola instead of Pepsi, or vice versa.

But most consumer products end up in the shopping basket without a lot of thought. If you happen to buy a brand of ice cream that doesn’t taste that great, you just throw it out and try a new brand next time. But: Do you dare to try a new supplier of ball bearings for your packaging machine in the example above? Your emotions will have a say.