How buying decisions are really made

“Although we’d never admit it, partly because we’re unlikely to be aware of it, most of our purchase decisions are driven by unconscious cues.” – Kit Yarrow, Decoding the New Consumer Mind.

Even in professional services, including large B2B sales, your prospects are making buying decisions based on unconscious emotional factors. In our next article, we’ll explore why emotion and personal value is more important in B2B sales, not less – but for now let’s look at what today’s buyers need to help them make decisions.
As Yarrow writes: “The unconscious mind may be hidden from us, but that doesn’t diminish its power. The fact that people generally—and mistakenly—believe that they make decisions logically and consciously only increases its influence.”
Often when we talk about emotion, firms are afraid that they’ll come across too emotional, even melodramatic, in professions that are highly rational, but that’s not what it means to use emotion in the ways you express your firm’s values. Consider some of these:
• Curiosity – about how you can solve a prospect’s problems, about what you know that they don’t
• Disgust – about poor work you’ve seen performed with a focus on helping prospects hire the best firms for their needs
• Joy – in your clients who are doing well
• Gratitude – for the clients and referral sources you get to work with
• Excitement – about new ideas, changes in the law, new opportunities
• Anger – about external factors that your clients and prospects are up against
In addition, today’s technologically advanced world can isolate people and make them more prone to emotional cues. Because of this Yarrow says buyers today prefer a buying cycle that:
• Makes them feel more in control
• Reduces the fear of making a mistake
• Simplifies the decision process
• Offers clear and immediate emotional benefits
• Is free of obstacles

In our next article, we’ll talk more about leveraging the power of emotion and how to reduce the fear of taking action, but today’s tactical tip is to look at your online presence and your sales process and find ways to help you prospects feel in control and move through their decision-making process in a simpler way.
Make sure you’re answering their questions before they think of them, that they can find everything they need on your site, and that they feel in control. As Yarrow points out, “Simply uttering a phrase that reinforces control results in happier, more confident consumers—who are then also twice as likely to accept a request. ‘It’s your decision,’ ‘you’re free to choose,’ ‘don’t feel obligated,’ and so forth all work. This is much more effective in face-to-face communication, but still somewhat effective in email communication. Activating a person’s sense of control makes him or her more open to persuasion.”