Daniel Goleman’s seminal book Emotional Intelligence was a breakthrough in workplace dynamics. For the first time, we had to consider that intelligence alone is a poor metric for measuring or predicting career success. The thesis of the book is that an individual’s emotional intelligence quotient — their skill in innately human attributes like empathy and ability to navigate social complexities — is a better barometer of whether someone will flourish or fail at work.
In the past decade, much has been written emotional intelligence at the individual career level, but it’s been largely ignored in the enterprise sphere. While there’s been a cultural awakening around the importance of personal skills such as empathy, self-awareness and relationships; scant regard has been given to how an enterprise can develop the same qualities.
Why does this matter to enterprises and how they conduct themselves in 2018? In short: plenty.
Since its 19th century origins, B2B marketing has been seen as B2C’s more serious and logical older brother. The thinking is that with more riding on the outcome of business purchases, the tonality and content of business marketing should take on a more serious nature. With variables to consider like longer sales cycles, more and better-informed decision makers with larger budgets, there’s simply more at stake. This worldview has been evident in decades of B2B campaigns featuring watertight logical messaging, often supported by a series of feature-driven proof points.
But logic is just one important driver in a buyer’s journey to a big decision. What other factors are at work, and ultimately impacting the bottom line?
Goleman defines the four domains of emotional intelligence as self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management—none of which can be neatly measured or managed. In the history of campaigns that have missed the mark, it’s often not a lack of company smarts or intelligence, but an absence savvy and empathy that leads to the fizzle.
A body of recent research has suggested many marketers have been overlooking the vital role of the emotion in B2B marketing. It’s not that selling products and services using logic and reason is wrong, it’s that it often comes at the expense of building emotional connections with the audience. A recent Google study reveals that B2B decision makers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than B2C consumers.
Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman estimates that 95% of our purchase decisions are made subconsciously. Essentially, purchase decisions are the by-product of a range of emotional, nebulous, non-conscious factors, yet we treat them like rational, concrete, logical choices. An objective observer might say the majority of B2B marketers have been doing it wrong.
In the information age, brands succeeded (or failed), based on the value of their own intellectual property—a brand’s products or services were manifestations of the brand’s intelligence. In the emerging age of automation, the World Economic Forum predicts that the jobs of the future will require uniquely human emotional intelligence to complement the inexorable tide of robots.
As the wave of automation continues to shape and influence our workplace, enterprise marketers would do well to remember, that in a world turned digital, an enterprise’s emotional intelligence—or its ability to be more human—is the most valuable asset it has.