In one sense, the distinction between B2B buying psychology and B2C is a false one. Companies don’t buy services or products — human beings with concerns, fears, dreams, and goals do. In either case, we’re dealing with people. Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C company, you need to know how your buyers think and what motivates them to take action. But B2B psychology has a few nuances that you should know about if you’re selling business services or products.
1. Motivations of the B2B Buyer
The B2B buyer is often motivated differently than a B2C consumer. While both buyers’ motivations are founded in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they manifest differently in work life versus personal life. Here’s what motivates the B2B buyer:
- Pain Points – Prospects care about their pain points and what your products or services can do to solve those problems. Pain points can be overarching issues that the business is facing or more personal challenges a buyer faces, such as not having enough time to fulfill the requirements of a boss.
- Gain – The opposite side of the pain coin is gain. B2B buyers want to get the next level and improve their lives, not just avoid pain.
- Social Influence – Human beings are hardwired to first trust recommendations from people they know. Because of this, they look at reviews, case studies, testimonials, and what their connections are saying on social media.
- Familiarity – One of the best predictors of future behavior is past behavior. B2B buyers are motivated by their past experiences. This line of thinking follows the theory that “what’s worked in the past must work in the future, and what hasn’t worked in the past won’t ever work.” To sell change, you’ve got to overcome this hurdle.
2. B2B Pricing Psychology
Some B2B industries tend to price well. SaaS comes to mind, with their focus on levels of what the software does for the user. But professional services companies are notorious for using bad pricing psychology.
When you’re shopping for a car, you don’t ask the salesperson for an itemized timesheet of all the hours that went into building the car. You look at the results of that labor: the style of the car, how fast it can go and how quickly it can get up to speed, how well it navigates turns, the comfort level of the ride. . . . Why, then, do we ask professional services companies for an hourly account of their time? And why do professional services companies want to price this way?
B2B buyers are focused on the value a service will deliver, and professional services firms should be too. Your pricing strategy shouldn’t be built on things the buyer doesn’t care about. If you want to be profitable, you’ll need to tie to your pricing to the value you provide, or at least be able to present it in terms of that value.
3. Emotionally-Charged Decisions
With the majority of B2C purchases, the worst a buyer has to fear is the loss of a few hundred or thousand bucks on a bad purchasing decision (and maybe having to listen to his or her significant other lecture on how dumb the decision was). With B2B purchases, often the buyer is risking much more — potentially his or her job if things don’t work out and the company loses a lot of money as a result. The stakes are higher. You’ll need to build trust and position your company as an expert authority on the issues the buyer is facing. Use case studies, testimonials, and other forms of social proof (such as online reviews).
Remember that as a B2B firm, you’re selling to people, not a faceless entity. Invest in the necessary research to understand your particular buyers and what they care about, what drives them, in their purchasing decisions. When you focus on their individual concerns and address their emotional needs as human beings, you’ll see your revenue rise in proportion to the value you deliver.