Buyers Buy for Their Reasons, Not Ours!

Every successful sale is made, not so much because of the excellence of your product or of your sales pitch, but because, consciously or unconsciously, you have found the human reason why your prospect should buy: You have found the door to their motivation and have opened it. The more you understand the function of human motivation, the more successfully you will sell.

 In its simplest form, motivation emerges as a cycle. It starts with a want or need, expressed or hidden. Inherent in this is a problem, a problem that must be overcome in order to satisfy the want that must be solved. Once solved, the want can be satisfied and the cycle is completed.

 In terms of personal development, there are several levels of needs. You will no doubt be familiar with Maslow’s pyramid of needs. These needs are basic to everyone you sell to, live with, or encounter, and we all of course, are different. Their needs will vary in degree, in shape, and in the nature of their answers. But they are common to all. As you are alert to them, as you understand them, so will your success with others be measured.

 How do people seek to satisfy their needs? Thorndike’s Law of Effect supplies the answer:

People tend to behave in a way to gain rewards and avoid punishment.”

Again, this varies with different people. Generally, people can be classified into three dominant types:

•          The Achiever

•          The Seeker of Social Recognition

•          The Security-Minded

(But no one is likely to be a “pure” type)

The Achiever is most likely to be oriented toward gaining rewards.

The Security-Minded is likely to be dominated by the desire to avoid punishment.

The Social Type stands somewhere between the two.

These are the dominating factors. But in varying degrees, each has a little of the other two in them.

In terms of selling, whatever the dominant drive of your prospect, they are above all, buying results – please forget features and benefits – which enable them to gain rewards and/or avoid punishment.

In making their decision, the buyer uses the “Minimax” principle – To minimize their losses, to maximize their gains. This is true whatever the personality orientation. The emphasis depends again on their individual motivational drive.

In summary, according to Russell: “The essence of motivation is finding meaning in what we are doing. Motivation is an inner control of the individual.” Only you can motivate yourself.

All these concepts apply to you in all phases of your life and your work, as well as they apply to others. Finding the right meaning in what you do will be the great motivator for a more effective you.

Understanding the nature of what motivates each person you deal with will enable you to help them make a decision favorable to both of you.

The most important fact to remember in influencing the behavior and decisions of others is that people do things for their reasons, not ours!

It’s been a very hectic week – for you too?

Next week over at Top Sales World, we announce the judging panels and all the prizes for this year’s Top Sales Professional Contest - all pretty impressive!

Have a wonderful w/e, wherever you are, and I do hope you can make it back on Monday – JF


  1. says

    Hey Jonathan, I echo your thoughts exactly. Selling skills based on methodologies have their place, I agree but what the clincher is, is the ability for a seller to really connect, understand and appreciate their customers world on so many levels – from the BIG I to the little i – Industry all the way down to the individual. Get that covered and you can have any value driven conversation your buyer wants, be seen as the expert in your field and that makes you really attractive as a seller.

  2. says

    I just have one comment:
    I suspect you have never been in the armed services. Your statement “Only you can motivate yourself” is wrong. I would recommend you read Carlo D’Este’s biography of George Patton (Genius for War) or Alan Axelrod’s Patton on Leadership. Axelrod’s book is written directed to business people. Patton was the greatest leader and motivator of men this planet has known.
    Besides studying leadership, I’ve had the good fortune to work under at least 4 different leaders in my life. makes all the difference in the world.

  3. says

    Hello Mike,

    No, I haven’t ever been in “the armed forces” but I have been exposed to 8 years in a tough English public school.

    I do believe that you cannot motivate someone who does not wish to be motivated – and this is based on my personal experiences as a leader for more than 40 years.

    Much has been written about George Patton, but in my view, what Earl Montgomery achieved with a rag tag bunch of demoralized troops at El Alamein, far exceeded anything Patton achieved during the entire conflict.

    As a “student of leadership” you will also be aware of Churchill, Elizabeth 1st, Gandhi, Alexander the Great, Napoleon ….I think all of these demonstrated far superior leadership skills to Patton. But in my humble view, the greatest leader of all time has to be Sir Earnest Shackleton, and you can see how I arrived at that conclusion, by reading my article “The Greatest Leader That Ever Came On God’s Earth Bar None”

  4. says

    The title of this post says it all. Buyer choose to engage with sales and buy for their reasons, not ours.

    In addition, sometimes we forget that the web empowers buyers to self-educate and engage on their terms, not necessarily on the terms of the sales team. Buyers are often entering the sales discussion armed with information about pricing, features, competitors, existing customer sentiment and other information. Thanks for the post.


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