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Understanding the Customer Buying Motives

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Jun 24, 2022

Knowing and understanding your prospect's buying motives allows you to make better decisions on whether to engage and pursue a potential sales opportunity.


Before I decided to pursue a business degree in college (yes, I know that was a long time ago), I briefly pondered studying psychology. I find some aspects of that field to be quite interesting in terms of understanding the things that drive people to make the decisions they make. In sales, I think about how to use this to understand customer buying motives. The great Dr. Sigmund Freud is credited with uncovering the pain-pleasure principle, which says that most decisions people make in their life are driven by the desire to avoid pain or obtain pleasure.

Think about that for just a minute and how far-reaching that is in your life. If you decided to get up early this morning and exercise, that was probably driven by the desire to avoid the pain of bad health. If you had a big helping of biscuits and gravy for breakfast this morning (don’t judge me) that was driven by the desire to obtain pleasure. If you are putting off having a difficult conversation with a co-worker, that is quite likely being driven by the decision to avoid the pain of a challenging discussion.

But what about your prospects? How much do you know about the buying motives of your prospects? Dr. Freud would say his pain-pleasure principle still applies. If you have been exposed to even a small amount of Anthony Cole Training Group content, then you know that we are huge believers in asking two questions of all prospects:

  1. Do you have a problem?
  2. Do you have to fix it?

When we teach advanced selling techniques, we go one step further – we dig into what is going to motivate that prospect to make their decision. And we know that since change is hard, the easiest thing for a prospect to do is nothing. Not making a decision is making a decision, and that decision is often influenced by taking the path of least resistance, which is to maintain the status quo.

As it turns out, your most significant competitive threat may not be coming from one of your competitors. It might be PI, what I call prospect indifference, or just keeping with the status quo. And what would motivate a prospect to make that decision? Because it is an easy decision, the prospect can avoid the pain of change as well as the change of delivering unpleasant news to the existing service provider.

Think about your prospects or customers’ buying motives on your next sales call. It will allow you to make better decisions on whether to engage with a prospect. After all, shouldn’t one of your motives be to understand your prospect’s motives?

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Topics: advanced sales techniques, buying motives, customer buying habits


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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