Differentiation: Learn the keys to attracting new business.

Identifying the Basic Motives of Customers or Prospects

Although it may sound surprising, customers don’t buy just for the sake of owning a particular product or service. They buy because of the benefits they will receive as a result of owning that product or service. Understanding this concept can help you better focus your selling efforts and place more emphasis on the specific benefits and how those benefits apply directly to that particular prospect.  Each person is different, and each person has his or her own reasons for buying or not buying. And each person will buy for those individual reasons – not yours or anyone else’s. So, if you try to sell them on any reason other than their own, you run the risk of turning the prospect off or otherwise alienating them, which usually ends up destroying the sale, as well as any future sales. Trying to figure out why people make certain decisions can be a complicated, even frustrating process, at best. But an understanding of basic buying motives can make your job much easier.

Motives for Buying

Behavioral psychologists tell us there are seven basic motives that move a person to action or, in this case, cause them to buy. An understanding of these motives and how they apply to your customers and prospects at the time a buying decision is being made can give you a tremendous advantage.

1. Desire for Gain or Profit

Nobody likes to lose. People want something in return for their efforts and hard work. And the easier they can get it, the better. The success of the lottery games in various states bear testimony of people trying to find an easy way to gain and profit.  The products you sell can help your customers realize their dreams for gain or profit, too. Your customers can and will invest in various types of products or services you sell – not to own them, per se, but in an effort to increase their profitability and the amount and value of their assets.

2. Fear of Loss or Need for Security

People will go to great lengths to prevent losing something. In an effort to protect their property, some people install burglar or fire alarms, smoke detectors, or night lights that automatically come on when movement is detected.  Some people carry spray cans of mace or tear gas, while others have resorted to carrying guns or other weapons to protect their person.  Psychologists say the fear of loss or the need for security is, perhaps, the greatest of all motives.  If the products and services you sell can help protect your clients, their families, or their businesses from loss, or if you can in some way increase their security, either at the present time or sometime in the future, you owe it to them to capitalize on that fact as much and as often as possible.

3. Pride of Ownership or Status

People want to be noticed and recognized. Little boys ride bicycles with no hands, and little girls dress up and act out dance routines and shout to their parents, “Watch me! Watch me!”  Adults do the same things, but in different ways. While they may not verbally shout out, they still say, “Watch me! Watch me!” just as loudly. They do it by the kinds of cars they drive, the clothes and jewelry they wear, the houses they live in, and the material things they possess.  While people may buy because of the benefits, they also like others to see the actual product. In some cases, it’s just another way to say, “Watch me! Watch me!”

4. An Interest in Doing Something Easier or More Efficiently

We all want methods of doing things easier. One only has to look around his or her home to notice the abundance of time and/or money saving conveniences we all enjoy.  What about your products or services?  Do they somehow make a person’s job, or a business’ way of doing things easier or more efficient?  And if they do, what are the direct and indirect benefits to your prospect or customer? Is this something you can capitalize on?

5. The Desire for Excitement or Pleasure

A popular bumper sticker reads, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” That message is a clear indication that people want excitement and pleasure. And it seems to suggest that pleasure comes in the “having,” rather than in the “getting.” It’s whoever has the most at the end who wins.  But in reality, “excitement” and “pleasure,” for most people, comes in the acquiring of things.  Think back about the times you have worked hard to get something and how excited you were in the process.  But then, once you had whatever it was you were working for, the excitement dulled.  Sometimes it’s not the end result that counts as much as the process of acquiring. A more practical interpretation of the bumper sticker might read, “He who lives with the most toys wins!” Of course, these applications have to do with “things.” Some people really enjoy acquiring “things,” and even keep score by how much they accumulate. Other people gain great pleasure or excitement knowing their family’s future educational and livings needs, as well as retirement, will be taken care of. Business owners like to know their businesses are operating at peak efficiency and profitability and are meeting the needs of their customers, and as a result, will be around for a long time, providing jobs and security for their employees and their families, as well as providing retirement funds for the owner when the business is sold.

6. Self Improvement or an Increase in Effectiveness

Your investment of time in reading this material is a good example of your desire for self improvement and increased effectiveness. People want and need to improve and to be able to do things more efficiently.  Sometimes that involves taking risks with time or money. Not all risks have to be “risky.” Calculated risks based on well thought-out plans and outcomes are the safest way to go and can contribute greatly to the successful improvement in effectiveness and efficiency.

7. The Desire for Importance or the Need to Feel Appreciated

According to noted psychiatrist Dr. Abraham Maslow, this is one of the basic needs of all humans: acceptance and appreciation. Children want to be accepted by their parents and peers, and parents want their children to remember them when they grow up and leave home.
In his book, The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor explains that workers are motivated more by “significant works” and a feeling of being needed and appreciated, than by money.

People want to make a difference and be appreciated for it. Fathers and mothers not only have an obligation to see that their family’s futures are provided for, but they want their family to understand and appreciate their efforts.  Business owners have an obligation to the people who buy from them, the employees who work for them, their employees’ families, the suppliers and the vendors who sell to them. Too often, each of those groups of people lives with an attitude of expectancy and entitlement. That is, they expect the business owner will take care of them. How much better it would be if more appreciation would be shown to those who make our lives better. If the products or services you provide the marketplace can help make this possible, you may have an open ticket to success because of the great unsatisfied need that exists.
If you understand these basic motives and how they apply to your business of selling your products and services, and then sell to the needs (both stated and unstated) of your customers and prospects, you will prosper.  And if you are not prospering, it simply means you have not uncovered your prospects’ and customers’ motives for buying. You are not addressing their specific needs. In most cases, you can’t wait for your customers to tell you what they want. You have to be able to recognize their needs.

Remember, you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your business. If you are doing it right or wrong, either way, the marketplace will let you know.

The Loyalty of the Customer

Customers make an interesting study. It seems they always want the very most for the very least cost. They are ruthless, selfish, demanding and even disloyal. One day you may realize it’s been weeks since you heard from one of your best customers. It’s incredible how many business owners just write off the loss of a good customer. But that’s not what you should do. Instead, now is the time to become even more proactive and go after that “lost” customer. One of the best ways to minimize or cut down on the frequency of losing your good customers is to resell them on the reasons they bought from you in the first place. Regularly scheduled meetings or conversations with your customers to remind them of their motives can go a long way in helping insulate your business from the competition.

Remember, your competition has similar products, services and prices. Also remember, your customer’s reasons for buying are only 35% based on those products, services, and prices. The other 65% is for what you can do for them. Spend time with them. Review their needs, wants, and concerns. Remind them why they bought from you in the first place. Reinforce their motives and their decisions for buying, and you will reduce your customer defection rate and develop not only loyal customers, but friends, as well.