Behavioural Science can help B2B brands maintain resilience in a post-pandemic world

B2B buyers in all kinds of industries are still grappling with the repercussions of COVID-19, and although there have been some encouraging signs in recent weeks and months of a possible return to the “New Normal,” we are not yet out of the woods. Many are now busy with scenario planning as budgets are reviewed and spending is scrutinised.

This means that you can’t take B2B relationships for granted and shift your emphasis wholly on to tactical sales messaging. Uncertainty makes it challenging for businesses to identify the most appropriate path forward. In contrast, times of crisis and uncertainty make it much easier for trust to be broken, as things can easily go wrong.

So, how should B2B campaigns be adjusted to reflect the current context?

Root yourself in empathy

Try to share the thoughts and feelings of your customers / prospects. Try to walk a mile in their shoes. For example, think about a colleague you work with and trust implicitly. How do they make you feel?

Chances are they make you feel understood and supported. They’re transparent in their dealings with you, so you always know what you’re getting. They’re a safe choice if you need to work alongside someone else.

Be sensitive to current context and, ideally, be seen to be responsive to it. Given this backdrop, it is also important to be conscious in the language you use in Marcomms.

Seek to make a connection with your audience

Google’s ‘From Promotion to Emotion’ study demonstrated that brands that connect meaningfully with B2B decision makers are disproportionately rewarded with greater consideration, purchase intent & willingness to pay a premium. Binet and Field’s work for the LinkedIn B2B Institute reinforced the importance of emotional messaging in driving sustainable growth.

As humans, we tend to trust faces behind the brand, so while B2B sales meetings are remote, we need to consider how can we achieve this connection without face-to-face conversation and human-to-human interaction? It’s easy to forget that negotiations are supported by non-verbal cues and allow for more nuanced discussion of complex business solutions.

Actively listen to customers and reflect on what they’re saying. Understand their motivations and mirror their language. Avoid jargon seek to foster trust, understanding and build rapport.

Use words which trigger sub-conscious mental processes (known to Behavioural Scientists as heuristics or cognitive short-cuts). For example, using the word “because” and following it with a reason helps ensure people feel they’ve been understood and, as a result, this improves compliance in subsequent behaviour. This will give your audience more of a sense of being understood and that your brand is authentic. Real, true and genuine. These techniques will improve receptivity to your messaging.

In summary, you can build more of an emotional bond with B2B buyers by:

  1. Seeking to build trust
  2. Showing empathy
  3. Reflecting customers’ language in your comms
  4. Explaining (“because”)
  5. Demonstrating authenticity (as well as brand personality)