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The Alternative Board Blog

Why Do People Really Buy?

Mar. 1, 2017 | Posted by Joe Zente, TAB Austin

At this moment, millions of salespeople are out promoting their products and services. They are shaking hands, pitching, demonstrating and presenting. They are also (hopefully) spending time asking questions, listening, learning and facilitating mutual discovery.

Interestingly, the majority of these salespeople (and the leadership of the companies they represent) operate under popular misconceptions about the true reasons people buy. They are consequently wasting tons of time and losing out on reams of sales, opportunities and profit. If a salesperson doesn’t understand why or how a person buys, and what motivates someone to buy from them instead of someone else, that salesperson’s chance of making a sale fall astronomically. Here are just a few of the most popular misconceptions:

“If a company needs what I sell, they will buy from me.”

Companies do not make purchases. People do. Committees never make decisions. In fact, ‘Committee Decision’ is an oxymoron. If you are being told that a committee will decide, you can be sure that ONE PERSON on that committee (the one will the most influence, power and commitment) will get their way.

“If a buyer needs what I offer, they will buy from me.”

The clear majority of salespeople believe this myth. Consequently, there are loads of hot projected sales sitting on company forecasts right now that do not have a snowball’s chance in hell of closing. It is highly likely that you need something today that you have not yet bought, and may not buy for months, years or perhaps ever. Need is just one component that leads to a potential purchase, but only emotional pain will trigger a purchase and make it happen. Do your salespeople know how to uncover pain, and if so, are they doing it?

“People buy from people they like.”

Can you think of a salesperson you like that you have not (or would not) buy from? I certainly can. Research shows that people do not buy from people they like. They buy from people they trust. They buy from people that help them create a new buying vision. They buy from people when they enjoy and respect the process of their interaction. It is great to be liked by your prospect and I would always encourage you to strive to be liked. But many salespeople avoid asking vital questions for fear they may not be liked. Bad idea. Game over. It is great to be liked, but it is much more important to be respected, competent and trusted.

“If I demonstrate ROI, we’ll win!”

There is nothing at all wrong with outlining that a financial return on investment would result from a purchase. In fact, there are many cases where it absolutely makes sense to do so. However, don’t think for a second that because you showed someone you were going a save them a million dollars that they will buy from you. The dominating presumption among ROI sellers is that people buy mostly for financial or rational reasons. Again, statistical, psychological and brain science research have all blown this misconception to smithereens. While there are selected situations where demonstrating ROI is important, it has been proven that in all cases buying decisions are made much more for emotional reasons and feelings than for rational reasons and spreadsheets.

“If my product (or service) is the best, they will buy from me.”

A recent survey of 5000 C-level buyers revealed that 19% of purchases were due to “quality or service,” 19% were due to “reputation,” 9% were due to “price” and 53% were due to the quality of their “interaction with the salesperson or company representative.” In other words, the process of buying is more important than everything else put together, far outdistancing the product or service. If you are currently focusing your sales interactions on either trumpeting or teeing up opportunities to demonstrate the wonderfulness of your product or company, you may wish to reconsider. Once again, I am not suggesting at all that you should not have a great product, service, reputation or a great offer at a fair price. Nor am I suggesting that your marketing should not highlight your unique advantages. However, managing the sales interaction will take you to the bank much more often with decision makers.

These are just a few of the most popular incorrect beliefs that create ineffective selling behavior (and many lost sales). There are more.

Do these myths and beliefs exist within your company and salespeople?

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by Joe Zente, TAB Austin

Joe Zente is a TAB Facilitator in Austin, Texas. Through his company at Z|Three, he offers multiple services that help business owners.

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