The Tacit Role of Emotions in B2B Sales

How important is emotion in B2B sales?

The answer might surprise you. As business professionals, it’s easy to think about the sales process as a straightforward, facts-based endeavor. But the truth is we’re all human, even in strictly professional settings. It’s important to stay in touch with this human element and relate to your prospects in this way, paying attention to their emotions as much as their more overt behavioral signals.

In this guide, we’ll explore the tacit role of emotion in B2B sales in more detail, including exactly how emotion manifests itself throughout the sales process, how your sales team can enhance their emotional intelligence practices, and ways to balance emotion with objective, facts-based sales interactions.

Quick Takeaways:

  • 70% of customer decisions are made using emotion.
  • Emotion manifests itself in the sales process in many ways, including: customer desire to build trust with providers, fear/risk aversion, excitement, status and ego, culture, and loss aversion.
  • Emotional intelligence is a critical sales skill that requires managing both your own emotions and those of your prospects.
  • Emotion should never be used to manipulate prospects into a sale or faster conversion.
  • Storytelling is an effective way to organically add an emotional element to your sales messages.

Emotion in B2B Sales: Why Pure Rationality is a Myth

B2B sales are all about business from both the provider and customer perspective. But the idea that B2B transactions are emotionless is misguided and incorrect. Why? Because B2B deals still involve human beings—actual people who are evaluating their options, making decisions, and considering the impact of those decisions on their companies.

Gallup research found that a whopping 70% of customer decisions about brand preference and purchase decisions are made using emotion rather than purely rational thought.

Graphic showing that 70% of brand preference and purchase decisions are made based on emotion

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That means if you’re not in tune with your buyers’ emotion, you could be striking out on closing high potential deals. To win in B2B sales, it’s critical to be cognizant of both your ideal business customers (i.e. the types of organizations best fit for your offerings) and the people involved in their buying process.

When you can engage B2B buyers on a human and emotional level, you’re better able to build a strong connection that ultimately leads to closing the deal.

How Emotions Manifest in B2B Sales

Emotions in B2B sales manifest in different ways than in B2C sales. They may not be as overt, but they are present throughout the sales process. Here are some of the ways you can recognize sales playing a tacit role in you B2B buyer interactions:

Trust and Relationships

Building trust is a cornerstone of B2B sales success. Trust is an emotional response to reliability, honesty, and integrity. Buyers are more likely to do business with individuals and organizations they trust—in fact, 81% of buyers say they must trust an organization in order to buy from it.

81% of consumers say they need to trust an organization in order to consider buying from it

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Fear and Risk Aversion

B2B buyers are naturally risk-averse. The fear of making a wrong decision, which could have negative repercussions for their careers or their companies, is a powerful emotion. Sales reps who understand this fear can provide reassurance and guidance, addressing the emotional aspect of risk.

Excitement and Opportunity

Conversely, B2B buyers also experience excitement when they see an opportunity to drive growth, innovation, or improvement for their company. This positive emotion can be a driving force behind B2B purchases. Salespeople who can tap into this excitement can motivate buyers to take action.

Frustration and Disappointment

When things don’t go as planned or expectations aren’t met, B2B buyers can feel frustration and disappointment. Understanding and empathizing with these emotions can help sales professionals salvage relationships and find solutions to problems.

Status and Ego

Decision-makers in B2B transactions often have a personal stake in the outcome. Their decisions can affect their status within the organization and their own sense of accomplishment. Acknowledging and respecting this emotional dimension can lead to stronger relationships with decision makers and more successful negotiations.

Company Culture

Every organization has its own unique culture, including shared values, norms, and emotions. Sales reps who take time to understand and align with a prospect’s company culture can build stronger connections and better anticipate prospect needs.

Loss Aversion

Humans are wired to be more averse to losses than to be drawn to equivalent gains. Sales professionals can leverage this emotional bias by framing their offerings in terms of what the buyer stands to lose by not taking action.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in B2B Sales

Understanding buyer emotion B2B sales requires a high degree of emotional intelligence (EQ). It’s a multifaceted skill that involves understanding and managing your own emotions as well as those of your prospect throughout the sales process. 

Diagram showing the multiple facts of emotional intelligence, including self regulation, self awareness, social skills, empathy, and motivation

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Reps with EQ are better equipped to navigate the complex emotional terrain of B2B transactions. Here are some key ways in which emotional intelligence comes into play in B2B sales:


Empathizing with the emotions and perspectives of your buyers is crucial. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can tailor your approach, communication, and solutions to their specific needs and concerns, showing them you truly understand how to provide the right solutions.

Active Listening

Listening is a foundational skill in sales, and it goes beyond hearing words. It involves paying attention to tone, body language, and the emotions behind what is being said in every interaction. By listening more actively, you can notice less overt emotional cues and stay better in tune with your prospect during their purchase journey.


Understanding your own emotions and how they influence your behavior is vital. Self-awareness allows you to manage your emotions effectively and avoid letting them derail a sales interaction—for example, by keeping your frustration in check when you get a “no” from a prospect you thought would be easy to close.

Emotion Regulation

Emotional regulation is the ability to control your emotional responses in high-pressure situations. In sales, this means staying composed, even when faced with rejection or challenging negotiations.

Building Rapport

Building a strong rapport with buyers is often an emotional process. It involves creating a connection based on trust, likability, and shared values, all of which have emotional components.

How Storytelling Plays a Role

One powerful way to tap into the emotional aspects of B2B sales is through storytelling. Stories have a unique ability to engage the emotional centers of the brain and make information more memorable and relatable.

Sales professionals can use storytelling to:

  • Create a Vision: Paint a vivid picture of the future with your product or service. Help buyers see the positive emotional outcomes and benefits.
  • Relate to Pain Points: Share stories of other clients who faced similar challenges and how your solution helped alleviate their pain. This can evoke empathy and resonate emotionally.
  • Highlight Successes: Showcase customer success stories of clients who achieved remarkable results with your offering. Success stories elicit positive emotions and build confidence.
  • Establish Credibility: Share stories about your company’s history, values, and the people behind the brand. This humanizes your organization and builds trust.

Collectively, these and other storytelling strategies humanize the sales process and make both your reps and your brand more relatable to potential customers.

The Limits of Emotion in B2B Sales

While emotions play a significant role in B2B sales, it’s essential to strike a balance. Overemphasizing emotions at the expense or simply to close a deal faster can quickly backfire. The most effective sales professionals are those who can integrate emotion genuinely and balance it with objective facts.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Data and Evidence: Emotions should complement data-driven decision-making, not replace it. Use data and evidence to support the emotional aspects of your pitch.
  • Transparency: Be transparent about the limitations of your product or service. Fostering trust is an emotional objective, but it should be based on honesty and authenticity.
  • Avoid Manipulation: While emotions are powerful, manipulation is unethical. Avoid tactics that exploit emotions for short-term gains, as they can damage your reputation in the long run.
  • Different Strokes for Different Folks: Not all buyers are equally swayed by emotions. Some may be more focused on data, while others are more influenced by relationships and trust. Adapt your approach to each prospect accordingly.

Final Thoughts on Emotion in B2B Sales

Emotions aren’t just an afterthought in B2B sales—they’re an intrinsic part of the way prospects make purchase decisions. Acknowledging and harnessing the emotional aspects of the sales process can be a differentiator between you and competitors in your space.

Emotional intelligence, storytelling, and taking a balanced approach that integrates emotions with facts all contribute to success in the ever-evolving landscape of B2B sales. Ultimately, B2B sales are as much about connecting with people on an emotional level as they are about closing deals.

RevBoss can help you execute a targeted, customer-focused outbound sales strategy that gets results. Here’s how we do it:

  • Get the Right Prospect Data: We integrate with leading prospect data sources — including our home-grown engine — to provide our clients precise, accurate B2B contact data.
  • Find Your Sales Flow: Our team builds a sales flow that drives prospect engagement with personalized sales touches. We route active prospects to your sales team.
  • Learn, Rinse, Repeat: You work the prospect convos that we turn up and coordinate with our team to measure and optimize. We grow your pipeline and you win more clients.

Ready to learn more about how we can help you grow? Schedule a call with us today.