Focus on prime buying motives to speed the sale

In the previous column, we were talking about the six buying motives: desire for gain, fear of loss, comfort and convenience, security and protection, pride of ownership, satisfaction of emotion.

We discussed how people buy emotionally, not logically. We found that different people will have different motives for the same kind of purchase. We also found that prospects can have more than one motive apply to the same purchase.

Finally we also found that people generally don't readily admit to, and may not even be aware of, their buying motives. People would feel too exposed admitting to their vanities or fears, so they tend to hide the real reasons.

But once you as a salesperson know all six buying motives you can appeal to them all and see which provoke your prospects' strongest responses.

For example, suppose you describe a benefit of your product or service that appeals to comfort and convenience, and you see your prospect rise about three feet out of the chair. That tells you to keep returning to that motive throughout the remainder of your presentation. You will use your prospects' reactions to help you keep your presentations focused on the areas that are most important to each individual prospect.

However, don't stop when you've uncovered just one motive that is important to your prospect. As you know by now, more than one buying motive may apply, and the motive you have not yet uncovered may turn out to be the most important of all.

Uncover the other buying motives by asking good, open-ended, feeling-finding questions to gather additional reactions. For example, suppose you have already discovered that profit -- desire for gain -- is extremely important to your prospect. You can start exploring other areas by asking questions like: "How would your company feel if you were to solve the problem by ...?" This tells you whether being a "hero" is important to this person.

If so, another motivation is ego -- satisfaction of emotion. You might also ask: "How important is security to you?" and you would find out how the person feels about security and protection. As your presentation unfolds, you will emphasize the areas that you find are important to your prospect.

Several years ago, I read an article about an executive with a major car manufacturer in Detroit. He had been looking for a residential lot in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich. -- a very elegant, affluent community. The real estate agent that was showing him various pieces of property found out this executive really liked trees, especially oak trees.

In the article, the executive recalled, "The Realtor showed me this lot, and I fell in love with it. It was exactly what I was looking for. When he told me the price, I almost had a heart attack. It was about twice as much as the limit I'd set myself for the purchase. And the realtor said, 'Yes, but look at all those oak trees. There's one ... there's two ... there's three ... there's four ... five ... six ... there's seven of the most beautiful oak trees you'll ever find in the world.' "

The executive said, "Every time I objected to the price, the salesperson counted those oak trees. Finally, I paid the exorbitant price for those seven oak trees. And the Realtor threw in the lot for free."

Do you suppose the Realtor was aware of what was important to that executive? You bet he was: pride of ownership of oak trees. He geared his presentation to stressing what was most important to that prospect, and made the sale.

One of the Electrical Associations found that during the energy crunch the same salespeople who were most successful in convincing their customers to use more electricity before the energy crisis were also most successful in convincing the same customers to use less.

Why? Because although the objective had completely reversed, the procedure remained exactly the same. The salespeople were still appealing to the customers to do things for their own reasons, not for the utility companies' reasons.

As a professional salesperson, your goal is to help the prospect buy now and wear well. It is important to keep the phrase "wear well" firmly in mind, because after the sale has been made, another psychological principle comes into play: People buy emotionally, then justify their decisions logically.

This means that once the sale has been made, people stop responding emotionally and begin concentrating on the sound, practical, rational, business reasons why the purchase was made. Later on, if asked why they bought, most people will not even remember their emotional motives. They sincerely believe that they bought the product or service for straightforward, logical reasons. If you ask, they can list these logical reasons for you.

For example, a couple will buy a home for emotional reasons. It's charming and looks "just right;" it has a prestigious address and socially prominent people live in the neighborhood.

However, once the contract has been signed, the couple will justify their decision logically: The home is a good value; it is bound to appreciate; it is near good schools, it is an excellent investment.

People buy emotionally, then justify their decisions logically. Therefore you must provide your prospects with logical as well as emotional reasons why your product or service will benefit them. People have strong, genuine, deeply felt emotions to start with.

When they buy anything, including things they buy on their own initiative that no one is trying to "sell" them, they buy for emotional reasons. You couldn't change that even if you wanted to.

Since your job is to help your customers fill their needs or solve their problems, look to their emotions, their buying motives, to tell you how you can serve them best. It's as simple as that.



Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.