How sales prospects make buying decisions
You meet a prospect at a networking event and know you made a fantastic connection. You got on really well and they are interested in knowing more about what you do. Yeah – you think you have the sale in the bag – but do you?
Not so quick – you could mess things up if you suddenly launch into a sales pitch. Firstly you need to know more about how buyers make buying decisions.
They have to have a need!
The first step in the buying cycle is a buyer has to have a need. Without a need there is no reason for them to buy anything from anyone let alone from you. Sometimes a buyer knows they have a need which is presented in the way of a problem or an opportunity. Symptoms alert them that something is wrong. For example, symptoms indicating a business has a problem might be declining sales, increased customer complaints or high staff turnover. An opportunity might be a competitor going out of business allowing the business to generate additional sales.
Sometimes a buyer doesn’t know they have a need until someone else points it out to them like a salesperson.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you were home one day and you get a knock on the door. When you open the door there is a man from a roofing repair company and he says. “I was just passing and noticed there is a large hole in your roof.” You go outside and have a look and sure enough there is a hole in your roof. The roofing repair man then says “there is a storm heading this way tonight. If you don’t repair the hole today you are likely to have flood damage in your house as a result of the storm.”
Whoa! Not what you want. You would be super motivated to buy now because there is some urgency in getting the hole repaired before the storm hits. Chances are you would ask the roofing repair man to fix the hole right there and then. You wouldn’t have time to shop around for the best price. You would be grateful that the problem was pointed out to you because it will save you from an even bigger problem, water damage in your house.
There has to be an impact of not buying
The buyer has a problem, but so what! That in itself is not enough for them to buy. Unless the problem leads to massive pain or the opportunity is so amazing, there is no motivation to buy.
It is the impact or consequence of not doing something about a problem or opportunity that really motivates a buyer to take action. In the example above, if the homeowner doesn’t fix the hole in their roof, the impact or consequence of doing nothing would mean the water would seep through the hole in the roof causing water damage in their house causing an even bigger problem.
Let’s face it, if the pain is not great enough or the opportunity not enticing enough, why would a buyer take action. They put up with the status quo because there is no urgency. This means the buyer will sit back in their comfort zone and do absolutely nothing. They are simply not motivated to buy. It’s not until a problem gets big enough – a buyer will want to do something about it. They would be motivated to avoid pain. When an opportunity is enticing enough – a buyer will want to pursue it. They will be motivated to gain rewards.
When a buyer feels massive pain they are likely to feel stressed, frustrated, anxious, worried and concerned their business is at risk or they are personally at risk. Not a nice feeling and the greater the negative emotions they feel, the more likely they want their pain to go away.
It’s the same with an opportunity. Improving processes, reducing costs of sales, improving profit margins, expanding their customer base creates feelings of achievement, elation, excitement and satisfaction in the buyer.
The interesting thing is buyers are more motivated by avoiding pain than they are by gaining a reward.
They have to have a target goal
After a prospect identifies that they have a need, and they understand the impact or consequences of not taking action, they then have a target goal in their mind which is essentially to take away any pain they are feeling or gain a reward from realizing an opportunity.
In the example above, the homeowner wants the hole fixed as quickly as possible to avoid an a bigger problem of flood damage which could become more costly than fixing the hole in their roof.
If there wasn’t a storm coming that night, the homeowner would most likely go to the marketplace and call around for a number of quotes. Depending on the urgency, they would also take into consideration not just the price, also the availability of a repairman.
They then investigate their options
Once a buyer knows they have a problem or an opportunity (needs), and the impact of not doing anything is great enough, this is the point where they go to the market to find the best provider that will help them reach their target goal. Often this is where you meet them on the buying cycle. They contact you for a quote, proposal or advice.
Most providers would then pitch their products and services to satisfy the buyers need by offering a solution that matches their target goal.
They choose the option that best matches their need
Now that they have gone to the market and investigated their options, the buyer will choose the provider whose products and services best match their target goal to help them avoid the pain of a problem getting worse or help them gain the rewards they would benefit from by pursuing an opportunity.
They then evaluate their decision
Sounds relatively simple. A customer has a need, they understand what will happen if they don’t take action (the problem gets worse or the opportunity disappears) and they have a target goal in mind not to let that happen. They look for a provider to satisfy that need. You sell them a solution that matches their target goal and they are satisfied right! Not always.
If the solution you sold them didn’t match their target goal then they are likely to be unhappy with the outcome because the buyer will evaluate if what they bought was right for them.
On a final note
Understanding the process buyers go through when making buying decisions, will help you sell the right solution that satisfies their need.
In A Nutshell
In order for a buyer to buy from you.
- They have to have a need
- There has to be an impact if they do nothing
- They have to have a target goal in mind
- They then investigate the options open to them
- They choose the option that best matches their target goal
- The evaluate if the option they chose satisfied their need