Decision modes affect communication. The method and mood people bring into decision making affect their reasons for buying and how they need information delivered. This brings huge implications to the area of business-to-business sales and marketing. If you can figure out how to connect better with your customers on the basis of their need, delivering the truth in the way they need to hear it — not just based on their personality, but also their capacity/role when they hear it — you win.
What are Decision Modes?
What are “decision modes?” Decision modes reflect personality styles represented in buying behavior. Think about going to the store and browsing. Now think about going to the store to buy something specific you need for a timeline-driven project you’re working on. Even though you’re the same person in both situations, you display two different kinds of buying behavior. In a business-to-business capacity, that’s just magnified.
The problem is that most B2B messages fail to make this distinction or make it without realizing what’s really going on. They either speak to themselves (whoever the owner is) or go too attribute-driven (no-nonsense, brass-tacks, impersonal, and sometimes braggy to seem confident).
Why Decision Modes Matter
Marketing has 2 main parts: media and message. And they both have to work.
- If you create the right message (copy, look, feel) for your audience, but deliver it in the wrong media choice or to the wrong audience, you waste money.
- If you hit the right audience, but fail to speak to them in a way that resonates, you waste your money.
B2B buyers are buying for two reasons: what you can do for their company and what you can do for them. Do you ever wonder why B2B websites sound so stuffy and boring, bragging about themselves and telling you what you’ll get? It’s because they need to be logical.
Not because all business people are logical, but because, in the end, business people need to look like they’re making responsible business decisions. They want to trust that you’re going to make them look good if they choose you or even just recommend you.
So how do you get there with your message? Sorting out how to speak to different people in their roles at work can seem difficult, but if you understand a few basic things about how people think in their roles at their company, things could become much simpler, much more quickly.
B2B Buying Is a Team Pursuit
Think about all the people you’ll need to satisfy.
- Accounting/finance will want reliability and predictability with cash flow.
- Operations will want to see that you have processes in place to move things forward quickly and that you’re well-supported.
- Legal and PR will want to make sure you won’t get them in trouble, either directly or by association.
Think of it as a business version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Start by checking the above boxes. Make sure your website has testimonials, for example. Make sure you have work samples, showing that you’ve done this type of thing before. Let your site show that you’re focused and speak intelligently on all your outward-facing communication.
Obviously, your website doesn’t show details about how you operate, but a well-organized and well-functioning site that has the basic boxes checked will get you past the first hurdle.
This corresponds to Maslow’s “physiological” and “safety” requirements. They need to know they’re safe with you. So if you’re super-clever, great. But that might not be what comes out on your website. Don’t let your desire to be clever overshadow your dependability. Dependability and professionalism is safety in B2B.
Hey, we’re a branding agency, so of course we care about the rest of Maslow’s pyramid. In fact, we think everyone should be offering reliability and structure with their special, secret sauce that sets them apart from their industry. But we have to get the basics right so that you’ll have a chance to meet them and build relationships, bringing them to a higher level of connection.
B2B Has a Longer Buying Process
B2C can be a pretty quick sale. And even a higher-ticket sale can involve less rigor than a comparable B2B purchase.
- A longer process means more time for them to look around.
- They have more time to be confident.
- They will have more time to gather information for their peers.
- More time spent building a case.
So think about how to give them more over time. Many companies create a cascading set of information that gives people more detail until they’re ready to talk to a live person. This could be a website that delivers information simply but offers the customer more depth as they interact. It’s not too overwhelming, but also not too simple. It offers to solve business problems, and also offers enough technical information to demonstrate competency.
This way if the buying process goes long, they haven’t exhausted all of your resources. They’re still a little curious.
B2B is, by Nature, more Technical
This is a bit like the last one. But let’s drive the point home. If your client is in a technical field, to make your B2B prospect feel good about doing business with you, show the following:
- Industry experience. You can’t always show your aptitude, but the proof is in a project you completed in their industry, and with a good result, perhaps shown by a testimony.
- Technical aptitude. Not just that you have the experience, but that you can think in the right way. You “get it.” They don’t have to describe everything to you and correct you at every turn.
At Resound, we’re all a little bit into physics, technology, economics, and the principles that make up those industries and industries like them. This makes it much easier to pick up on the technical aspects of building, engineering, and even finance.
Understanding these principles of B2B marketing will help you create a general plan that will help you build communication to speak to the person who’s buying, no matter what he or she is like in everyday personal buying decisions. B2B brings out the responsible, data-driven shopper in us who wants to cover all the bases and avoid making provably bad decisions on behalf of the company.
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