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Why Customers Buy (58 Reasons)

        posted by , February 25, 2013

When your alarm clock buzzes early in the morning why do you get out of bed (eventually)?

The reason you get out of bed, the reason anyone gets out of bed is .... the same reason that your customers buy.

Your customers are driven by their needs and desires. It's the only reason they buy. In fact, needs and desires are the only reason anyone does much of anything.

Whether you're selling to a business or a person — it's important to understand these motivations.

The following 58 business and personal motivations are the compelling force behind every sale.

Primary Business Motivations

The following business needs are the root motivation behind virtually every b2b sale.


1. I need to generate revenue

The need to achieve both short term and long term revenue targets. Often short term targets are a stronger motivator.

2. I need to improve our share price

The shareholders of a firm push for a higher share price (either in the short or long term). This trickles down to the ranks. In theory, it's a strong motivation.

3. I need to improve the firm's reputation

If you sell something that's guaranteed to boost a firm's reputation it will sell like hotcakes.

4. I need to improve quality

Quality issues are painful for a firm. Low quality means angry customers. It means a bad reputation. It means working on the weekends to fix problems.

5. I need to reduce costs

If your product will really pay for itself in a short time it will be easy to sell.

6. I need to improve efficiency

Efficiency is a painful issue that is key to every firm's survival.

7. I need to reduce a risk

Eliminate a risk that's making your customer lose sleep.

8. I need to avoid a catastrophic risk

Catastrophic risks are unlikely but high impact (e.g. a disaster).

9. I need to comply with regulations

Regulatory compliance is no fun. Customers worry about it.

10. I need to build or protect competitive advantage

If your customer is new to a market they may be desperate to establish competitive advantage. If they're the leader they may be desperate to protect their position.



Secondary Business Motivations

Secondary business motivations are more specific. They can be derived from primary motivations.


11. I need to improve customer satisfaction

In many industries, customer satisfaction is key to revenue and reputation.

12. I need to improve employee engagement

It's no fun paying salaries to bitter employees who'd like to see you fail.

13. I need information

A working crystal ball would be easy to sell.

14. I need to make better decisions

Decisions keep your customer up at night.

15. I need to organize something chaotic

The basic business need to make order of a chaotic environment.

16. I need to plan something complex

Customers need to simply complex planning activities.

17. I need to solve a problem

Your customers may have big problems that they need to solve (e.g. an engineering problem).

18. I need to keep up with my competitors

Your customers are locked in a competitive battle.

19. I need to automate repetitive tasks

The desire to escape repetitive, mind-numbing work.

20. I need my employees to be more productive

Productivity gains are key to efficiency and competitive advantage. Your customer may carefully monitor productivity metrics. They may dream about productivity metrics.

21. I need to improve my market power

If your customer is a weak player in a market, they may be craving to improve their position.

22. I need to improve brand recognition

If nobody's ever heard of your customer's brand, they'll be crying for recognition.

23. I need to standardize

Standards help your customer sleep at night. Customers want to follow the best practices of their industry.



Professional Motivations

Business sales are heavily influenced by the professional motivations of decision makers.


24. I need to impress my boss

Help your customer write a victory speech that will impress his/her boss.

25. I need to be busy

Your customer needs to stay busy at work. Meeting with salespeople is one way to keep busy. Buying your product could be an opportunity to stay busy.

26. I need to increase my importance to the firm

How can you help your customer's career today?

27. I need to be trendy

Some professionals pride themselves on their trend awareness. They are likely to buy products that are cutting edge.

28. I need to accomplish the objectives I've been given

What's written in your customer's MBO? That's what truly drives many professionals.

29. I need to win a political battle

Your customer may be locked in intense political battles with their colleagues.

30. I need to win a political war

Your customer's department may be locked in a long-running political war with another department. Internal competition can be just as fierce as the competition between firms.

31. I need political power

Your customer may crave political power.

32. I need a promotion

Your customer may need to achieve something great that will earn him/her a promotion.

33. I want to avoid being fired

Your customer may be motived by the fear of being let go.

34. I need to prepare for my next job

Your customer may be looking forward to leaving their present role. They may be motivated by learning and improving their resume.

35. I need to make my job easier

Your customer may be swamped with work.

36. I need to escape my current responsibilities

Your customer may have responsibilities they'd like to offload.

37. I need to protect my reputation

Every professional wants to protect their reputation. In some cases, they need to repair it.

38. I don't want to go to jail

Customers may be worried about compliance issues for which they are personally responsible.

39. I need to be diligent

Some customers have strict due diligence processes they need to obey. If your product passes these checks and balances, it makes it easier for your customer to buy.



Personal Motivations

Personal motivations come into play whether you're selling to a business or to a person.


40. I enjoy logic

Logical arguments work — people like logic.

41. I enjoy creativity

Your customer may get excited about innovative products that spark their creative imagination.

42. I enjoy the thrill of the purchase

It's fun to buy things.

43. I enjoy talking to sales people

Some customers accept your meeting requests because they're sociable. They like to talk.

44. I am a product enthusiast

Customers may be in love with your products or the products of your competitors.

45. I want to impress my friends and family with my accomplishments

Customers want a story they can tell at a cocktail party or at the dinner table.

46. I want to travel

Customers may have a craving to travel. They might look for any excuse for business travel.

47. I want to avoid travel

Customers may avoid travel like the plague.

48. I want entertainment and adventure

Your customer wants entertainment and adventure in his/her career.

49. I want to boost my self-esteem

Your customer has emotional needs. Emotions are a fundamental reason to buy.

50. I want to achieve something

Customers may be seeking self-fulfillment.

51. I want respect

Your customer wants respect from you and his/her colleagues.

52. I want to be safe

Customers generally have a strong aversion to danger.

53. I want to reduce my stress / avoid stress

If you can solve a stressful problem for your customer, you'll sell.

54. I want to eat and drink

Fundamental needs can be the strongest.

55. I need intrigue

Suspense and mystery make life more interesting. Your customer needs it.

56. I want to be popular

How does your product make your customer more popular?

57. I want to be fair

Your customer wants to be fair to you and others.

58. I want to be ethical

Your customer has ethics.



So What?

Once you get in the habit of reading your customer's motivations you'll want to apply these sales strategies to sell into their motivations.

This post is an installment in the ongoing series called how to win at sales.


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