The deal lies in prospect’s motive to buy

by: Jeffrey Gitomer
author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, is president of Buy Gitomer of Charlotte, N.C. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service.

More sales are lost by “selling” than by anything else.

It sounds weird, I know. But your selling skills are not nearly as powerful as the customer’s reasons for buying. In fact, your reasons for selling are useless if they don’t match the customer’s reasons for buying.

If you dig deeper into the buying motive, you will move higher in the decision-making chain (above purchasing and procurement).


Here are some motives for buying, divided by category:

1. Purchase-oriented motives:

  • Out of stock.
  • Need for production.
  • Need for business operation.
  • Previous experience

2. Emotional-oriented motives:

  • High desire.
  • Value of purchase.
  • Desire to gain.
  • In a panic — timing.
  • Vanity or greed — ego gratification.
  • Low risk or no risk.

3. Experience-oriented motives:

  • Preconceived notion.
  • Previous experience.
  • Certain of performance.
  • Confidence in quality.
  • Confidence in service.
  • Brand loyalty.
  • Supplier loyalty.
  • Salesperson loyalty.

4. Profit- or money-oriented motives:

  • Fear of loss — losing ground to competition.
  • Fear of loss — losing customers.
  • Fear of loss — losing revenue.
  • Better productivity or performance.
  • Work reduction or efficiency.
  • Increase profits.
  • Have the money or budget.
  • Best choice.
  • Lowest price. (That could be the real motive to buy, although it rarely is.)

5. Results-oriented motives:

  • Increase customer loyalty.
  • Enhance brand value.
  • Better market image.
  • Improve the present product.
  • Gain a competitive advantage.

Which motives fit your customers?

Answer: More than you know.

Are some motives more powerful than others?
Heck, yeah! Fear of loss is greater than the desire to gain. You determine the value by the number of sales that result from each motive you uncover.

How do you expose these all-important motives? You start with the past. Look at past successes.

Then add present loyal customers. Existing customers will help you understand the reasons they buy from you. Explore their history. Get their experience. Ask deep. Three or four consecutive “why” questions will get to the hidden motives. Ask them, “Why that was important?” Get their story on the long-term use of your product or service (even if it wasn’t purchased from you). Motive after motive will come forth.

Then explore the dark side. The real truth will come from lost customers. Why did they leave you? What motive wasn’t met? You may even renew a few relationships and regain some lost customers.

Here’s a motivating way to understand the process: Don’t think of it as “motive.” Think of it as “money.”

Show me the motive, and I’ll show you the sale.

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