Don’t Discount Emotion & Personality When Seeking To Understand B2B Decisionmakers

May 3, 2022

We are sometimes asked if and how our Agile Human Experience Intelligence (HXI) framework and approach applies to business-to-business usage and purchase decisions. The answer? Yes, it does, although the weight of some of the factors on decisions may differ a bit. To see this, let me briefly explain the framework. 

GutCheck’s Agile HXI framework suggests that usage and purchase decisions are affected by the experiences that people have when they use and purchase products or services they expect will help them make progress and meet their needs. And those experiences are colored by everything that makes them human – from more general factors such as their personality traits and universal needs to demographic, household, and employment characteristics and media preferences. And from more specific factors such as the emotions that arise in more immediate or closer-in usage or decision-making contexts.  

I like to think of all these things as similar to a strand of DNA. Your personality is part of the strand of DNA. Your universal needs are part of the DNA. As you’re making decisions, those pieces of your DNA, regardless of what environment you are in, are going to play a role. 

Bringing it back to B2B, a person whose primary personality trait is openness, for example, may be willing to evaluate more vendors than people with other primary personality traits. Similarly, for universal needs (e.g. Maslow), a businessperson whose highest needs are for structure or stability may require more guarantees about the ability of the product or service to deliver, whereas someone whose highest needs are in the areas of harmony and ideals may care about aesthetics and design as much as delivery. 

Of course, in a business setting there are often many diverse stakeholders to attempt to please, and so the context (e.g. organizational design, maturity of the company, existing systems, etc.) in which the decision will be made plays a large role in the final decision. But even here, a number of holistic, human factors can influence the decision – especially any factors about which the decision maker feels strong emotions. But will business decisionmakers express emotions in response to a survey question? 

What I can tell you is empirically when we look at consumer responses to open-ended questions or commentary that are out in the wild (i.e. unsolicited commentary from online reviews, blogs, and forums), we tend to see about 25%-35% of those have some kind of emotion being expressed. When we look at B2B, we tend to see 15%-20%. It’s there. It’s at a slightly lower rate, but not that much lower.

For example, we asked a group of technology decision makers to think about their last purchase and then tell us what they would say to a co-worker or industry colleague who they were advising on a similar decision. We found about 16% of all comments expressed an emotion (14% positive, 2% negative) while others expressed positive or negative opinions or judgments with no emotion (72% positive, 11% negative). 

An examination of these four groups of decision makers – those expressing positive emotions, position opinions, negative opinions, or negative emotions can tell companies selling them services more about the degree to which they feel the engagement has been valuable to them personally and to their company. 

To discover how GutCheck’s Agile HXI approach can help you understand your buyers at a deeper level to deliver meaningful competitive advantage, contact us today. Your business growth could be just an emotion or need away. 

Click here to learn more about Agile HXI, and check out this blog post for further insight. 

Written By

Renee Smith

Renee Smith

Chief Research Officer

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