People buy the same product for different reasons


Have you ever wondered why people buy what they buy?

What motivates them to make a purchase?

Why do they buy when they do?

Each prospect enters the sales process with emotional needs; motives that either singularly or together cause them to buy your service or product.

People buy for their own reasons --
not your reasons or even your company's.

Because these reasons are rooted in emotion, not logic, they may not seem reasonable, intelligent or even practical to you. Nevertheless, they reflect what is important to the buyer.

It is vital to the success of every one of your sales, then, to understand the desire behind each motive, as you will likely encounter them within the course of the sale.

These six buying motives are not presented in any special order.

No one motive is more important than another.

Bear in mind that at least one of these motives, though often more than one, applies to every purchase.


  • Desire for gain.
    This first buying motive stems from a prospect's intent to gain financially by purchasing your product. The desire for gain could cause a company to purchase a software package because it believes its employees will work more efficiently by using it. As a result, the company will turn a greater profit in the coming year. The desire for gain could also prompt an individual to purchase real estate or other personal investments. They hope to gain a financial edge through the purchase of your product or service.


  • Fear of loss.
    Just as people can be motivated by a hope for gain, they can also be motivated by the anxiety of losing what they already have. This buying motive relates to the fear of financial loss if the product or service is not bought. It may prompt a store owner to install a security system or enlist the services of a security firm. The fear of loss is a prime motivation in the purchase of insurance -- be it liability insurance or insurance to protect an individual against identity theft -- the hope of preserving one's financial viability remains the same.


  • Comfort and convenience.
    What would you do without your Swedish foam mattress, digital cable television and PDA? Most of us put in long, arduous work days. What better way is there to soothe a tired body than by coming home to a hot, bubbling Jacuzzi? Purchasing goods and services that promote relaxation can offer us a sense of ease in our busy lives. They are often the things many of us justify working such long hours for in the first place. We reward ourselves with purchases that enrich the quality of our lives, ease our tension and stress and make us feel good.


  • Security and protection.
    People make countless purchases motivated by the desire to keep themselves, their families and their property safe. We need only to look to the sales of mace, car alarms and services of private security companies to see how important this buying motive is to so many of us. As the instances of fatal illnesses like heart disease and diabetes rise, so does the market for diet plans, vitamins and health clubs. We are motivated, regardless of what we're afraid of, by a strong need to purchase that which will protect us from harm.


  • Pride of ownership.
    Why does a person buy an expensive home in an upscale neighborhood? Why would a shopper spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on an outfit from a famous designer? Why would an art collector pay millions for a single painting?

    Whether we are willing to admit it or not, there is a bit of "label mentality" lurking in most of us. We are often willing to pay a premium to own an exclusive item just for the pride we take in owning it -- and showing it off. Be it an exquisitely crafted leather jacket or a high-performance speedboat, there is a certain "high" one feels in being able to purchase such a sought-after item.


  • Satisfaction of emotion.
    To see our loved ones happy, we are often willing to make significant purchases -- from jewelry to exotic flowers to luxury vacations. How does it feel when you pick up the tab for your dinner companions at an expensive restaurant? That pride in caring and providing special things for those who are important to us is the result of very deep-seated emotions. We feel good making the purchase because we gain love and appreciation. As human beings, we strive to avoid disapproval and rejection at all costs. The satisfaction of emotion relates directly to our need for love and to satisfy our ego.

As you may have deduced by now, people buy emotionally, not logically.

They will justify their purchases logically afterward, but it is their feelings, not their reason, that determines whether or not the sale will take place.

Individuals can have different motives for the same purchase.

For example: Three people who buy the same European luxury sedan can have three different reasons for their purchase.

The first person, when asked why the car was picked, might reply: "I have reached a certain income level and status and would like a car that reflects my accomplishments. This automobile is one of the finest in the world."

A second person may view the car this way: "I bought the vehicle because of its excellent safety rating and long-standing reputation for being one of the most secure, well-designed vehicles made. I'm worried about the 'other guy' out there on the road. I'll feel very safe driving now."

A third person, however, may have a different motivation to buy. "The plush interior and smooth ride just sold me on the car. I love the way it handles -- it's so responsive. It feels like it was just made for me."

The first person bought for ego -- pride of ownership.

The second person's motive was the car's excellent safety record -- security and protection.

The last person saw owning and driving the car as a pleasurable experience -- comfort and convenience.

As you can see there are six different motives that ultimately fill the same kind of emotional need.

Often those motives overlap, so you should keep in mind that when you uncover your prospect's buying motives, one or more may apply to the same purchase.

As you begin to understand why your prospects buy, you'll be able to better structure your sales approach to appeal to their buying motives.

That is what selling is all about.



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