Sales and Marketing Software

Three Emotive Personalities

By Bob Johnson Principal Analyst at IDG Connect & Kimball Wallace CEO at Wallace & Washburn Marketing

New Global B2B Research Reveals Three Buying Team Emotive Personalities

New global B2B technology research conducted by IDG Connect, IDG Sonar and Wallace & Washburn Marketing across 17 countries confirms the existence of three distinct buyer-types: Advocates, Challengers and Collaborators. Each personality type has different issues, especially emotion-based goals. Vendors who personalize their go-to-market efforts by emotive personality type can achieve a better chance of connecting with buyers and winning the sale.

Personas plus Personality

Personas help advance audience segmentation to reach those within each segment, but how do you speak directly to them in ways that motivate them, compel them, and build their confidence? While personas define who you want to target, emotive personality tells you how to connect with your persona types based on their emotion-based goals (which currently represent over 50% of the buying decision). You can combine that through emotion-based messaging that uses research-generated “trigger” words, phrases, and images that resonate powerfully with all three personalities - to help you become a pre-favorite vendor before the buying team ever meets.

The Three B2B Buyer Personalities

Are your buyers into “action,” “analysis,” or “collaboration?” Knowing their personality type and agendas will give you a communication advantage over competitors.


Advocates are most persuasive. They tend to have more pre-favorite vendors in mind prior to the first team meeting, and their pre-favorites are over 20% more likely to win the sale. Additional factors that differentiate the ”action-oriented” Advocates include an above-average interest in making things happen versus thinking about them, the use of proven procedures; vendors with big name client experience and endorsements by famous leaders. They want guarantees of success. It’s important to provide Advocates with materials that not only convince them, but ones they can use to “sell” other team members on your solution such as comparison charts or big name client success stories. (See later section on Personality Action Plans)




The pre-favorite vendors for “Expert” Challengers have an average likelihood to ultimately win the sale. However, it’s important to reach Challengers because they can create roadblocks. They can also become strong post-purchase Advocates for your offering if they see success. Challengers want solutions without any “hassles or surprises”. They appreciate practicality. They want durable products and services that are sure to last over time. They are most likely to carefully review detailed features and benefits of each vendor, and are especially impressed with articles and white papers authored by respected (fellow) experts.   


It’s important to reach Collaborators prior to team meetings because they tend to be the easiest to gain access to and are early gatekeepers. That their pre-favorite vendors are slightly below-average in winning sales does not diminish their importance as these people-oriented individuals drive the communication network within the organization about upcoming and past purchases. “Consensus-building” Collaborators need to understand what a product or service is all about and how it’s been carefully thought out in detail. They favor factual decisions over intuitive judgment. Collaborators like to see vendor features and benefits presented side-by-side for easy review. Like Challengers, the Collaborators will become post Advocates if they experience success but if you fail to communicate accurately and fully with them they can negatively impact your post-purchase efforts for add-on sales and customer retention.




What’s Your Action Plan by Personality Type?

Once you’ve done your research and determined how to connect with each of the three buyer personalities, create an action plan including four “W’s” below such as the one below which we developed based on our research among Cloud Security buyers and using IDG Connect content preference research on content types, formats and social media communities.




How to Leverage Emotion


We analyzed the impact of emotion-based issues in over 300 in-depth buyer surveys in Cloud Security, known for its relatively dynamic pace. We asked those buyers to describe the positive and negative aspects of the decision process in their own words. Then, using a unique system called DecisionSCAN® we analyzed each verbatim for patterns, connectivity and importance. From that emerged the “trigger” words to emotionally charge various types of marketing content. Given the race to personalize the experience with real-time, customized content, we’re convinced that leveraging emotion should be a top priority. To demonstrate, here is an example of how to personalize the basic emotive message in Cloud Security for each buyer personality. (The emotive text is in red)



Remember, Buyer Personalities Differ By Geography

Buying team personalities (or their emotion-based goals) are not consistent from country to country. Understand each marketplace and avoid assumption to maximize your message mix and emphasis.  The IDG Connect/Wallace & Washburn research revealed major differences in the US versus 15 other countries. For example, Advocates and Challengers are both less predominant outside the US while Collaborators rule, so this demands a modified message.



Collaborators represent the dominant buyer personality outside the US, ranging from 55% to 86% across EMEA and the Middle East. The top three Collaborator countries include Spain (86% below), France (78%) and Germany (75%). So brand and demand generation efforts outside the U.S. would need a more a Collaborator-centric approach to effectively use emotional trigger words and phrases to engage and influence.


Any persona-centric approach to market segmentation benefits from adding emotional elements to messages and sales pursuit. Discuss with your team members the idea of buyer personalities and how these buying team members think and communicate. Foster the development of content and social media conversations that are infused with the right trigger words and phrases, some shared across all three personalities with others specific to each one. The result is to go from a black and white audience segmentation approach to one in full color where you see how risk, control and reward factors not only make your offering a pre-favorite but create momentum towards a successful sales cycle.



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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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