To understand your client, know their 'buying motives'

As a salesperson you might think that people buy your product or service because of the reasons you give them. On the contrary, people buy not because of your reasons, not your company's reasons but for their very own reasons.

These reasons may not seem sensible, logical or even intelligent to us but they seem that way to the prospect.

There are six different motives and they are not presented in any special order nor are they any more important than any other. They are:

  • Desire for gain (usually financial)
  • Fear of loss (again, usually financial)
  • Comfort and convenience
  • Security and protection
  • Pride of ownership
  • Satisfaction of emotion

I shall refer to these as the six buying motives. You may notice that all these buying motives are emotional, not logical. People buy emotionally, not logically.

In order to sell effectively you must keep this point foremost in your mind. They may buy in anticipation of financial gain or fear of financial loss. They want to feel secure and safe. They desire the comfort and convenience that a service or product may provide. They want to feel the pride and ownership of a product or they may purchase to satisfy the needs of love and ego.

There may also be times where more than one motive may apply to the same purchase. Take for an example a person who is considering remodeling his or her kitchen. The dominant buying motive may be the comfort and convenience a new layout and new cupboards will offer.

On the other hand a remodeled kitchen will add value to her home (desire for gain) and prevent obsolescence with the subsequent difficulty in selling (fear of loss). The plumbing and wiring will be improved giving peace of mind from electrical fires or leaking pipes (security and protection).

The new kitchen will probably be the talk of the neighborhood gaining personal satisfaction to the homeowner (satisfaction of emotion) and making it the center of attention for visiting friends (pride of ownership). Any one or any combination of all the six buying motives could apply to influencing this homeowner to remodel his or her kitchen.

If you were the salesperson who is trying to sell this person the remodeling job you need to know the dominant buying motives -- the emotions that underline the decision -- because you will want to appeal to those motives in your sales presentation.

It is extremely important that you uncover these underlying buying motives because the prospect in all likelihood will not come out and tell you. They are sometimes only vaguely aware of their motives themselves.

The primary reason people don't readily admit their buying motives is because it would make them feel too exposed. Psychologists tell us that people feel vulnerable admitting, even to themselves, what they care about, desire or fear on a deep, emotional level.

If you were to try to sell the prospect above a kitchen renovation based on the comfort and convenience of a new kitchen and the prospect is focused on the desire for gain on the resale value of the house, you won't be nearly as successful as you could be.

People do not readily admit their dominant buying motives. If you sat down and asked your prospect his or her dominant buying motives for a recent purchase, he or she wouldn't, or couldn't tell you. Psychologists report, even over a long period of time, most of their patients seem reluctant or unable to reveal their dominant motives for any of their actions.

Why? One reason is that our motives often overlap. Suppose you just purchased a new jacket. What was your dominant motive in making that purchase? Maybe you bought the jacket for comfort; you expect it to keep you warm. You might have bought it simply because it has a style or label that you're proud to wear or show your friends.

Maybe you bought it because the color makes your eyes look bluer, or it makes you look taller and thinner, or in some way it makes you feel good about yourself -- it gives you emotional satisfaction. Maybe you bought the jacket for all three reasons merged together: It's comfortable, you're proud to own it, and it makes you feel good about yourself.

Who wants to admit that we bought a jacket because it makes our eyes look blue? People would think we were conceited. Who wants to admit that we bought a jacket as a status symbol -- that it has the "right" label, and we feel proud to own it?

We don't like to admit these things. The six buying motives are real, but if we openly admit our real reasons for making a purchase, other people might laugh. We tend to hide our real reasons, because we just don't want to feel that vulnerable.

Well, your prospects are no different. They are not going to tell you or anyone else that the real reason they want to buy the copy machine you're selling is because it has a prestigious name. Who wants to admit to that kind of vanity?

They are not going to tell you or anyone that the real reason they want to contract your interior decorating service is because a well-decorated office will make them feel more important and appear more successful to others. Who wants to admit to that kind of vanity?

Your prospects are not going to tell you or anyone that the real reason they're interested in your computer system is because they're scared stiff that without it, their competitors will beat their socks off. Who wants to admit to that kind of fear?

Don't expect your prospects to be totally forthright and honest about the real reasons that motivate them to buy. In the next column, we will show you how to appeal to your prospect's dominant buying motive.

 


 

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