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4 Things Business Owners Should Know About Why People Buy

blogpost customer behavior markets Aug 24, 2020

I have a question for you: Why do customers buy? 

A few weeks ago, I was working with a client whose sales team was struggling to close deals. So I asked him the question I just asked you. It's one of those questions that seems so elementary, it's easy to brush it off.

But really think about it.

When he and his sales team did, they all came up with different answers (which is fine, I love creativity!) But at the end of the day, customers kept slipping away to competitors who had crystal clarity on this question.

So we got into diagramming the four dimensions of consumer buying patternsAnd just in case you or your sales team need a refresher, I want to share them with you.

4 Dimensions of Consumer Buying Patterns

1) The Problem

Buying begins with a problem that needs solving. Conversely, that means selling begins with understanding exactly what that problem is. Keep in mind, your customers' problems have probably changed in some way due to recent (*pandemic*) events. Ask yourself:

  • What are our customers' problems?
  • How might those problems have changed recently?
  • Is asking them and listening to their answers a part of our sales process?

2) The Product/Service

Your customer will choose a product/service based on whether or not they believe it will solve their problem. Most of the time (for better or worse) they've decided this BEFORE they even talk to your sales team. Ask yourself:

  • How does our product/service solve the problem our customer is presenting? 
  • Are we proactive about presenting that information to them when they are in the early stages of the buying process? (i.e. on our website, in our marketing campaigns)

3) The Value

Value can come in many forms, such as price, convenience, availability, etc., and is often subjective. To snag your customers, you have to know what they value the MOST. Is it low prices? Fast delivery? Automatic purchasing? Ask yourself:

  • What do our customers value the most?
  • Can we narrow it down to 1-2 priorities per customer profile?
  • How do we compare to our competitors when it comes to offering that value?

4) The Experience

This is the part of the buying process you have the most control over—and that can be the deal breaker in building a returning customer base. It all comes down to making your buying experience as streamlined, pleasant, and un-obnoxious as possible. Ask yourself:

  • What annoys me when am a customer, and would any of our policies/processes annoy our customers?
  • What tactics does our sales team use that might be turning off customers?
  • Do we know what our customers prefer in terms of their overall experience? 

A Real-Life Example

Years ago when CompUSA was still in business, I walked in to buy a laptop for my son. We knew we needed a laptop for his schoolwork (i.e. product) since his had died (i.e. problem), and we had done our research on the type and price we wanted (i.e. value). All we needed was a helpful salesperson. 

But instead, we were confronted by three managers looking to sell me an overpriced service contract I didn’t want—totally ignoring our problem/product/value input. Finally, I told the last manager that if he pitched this service contract one. more. time. I would walk out of the store without buying anything. "Of course!" he said, "Except that this service contract is really…" and went right back into his spiel again.

At that point, my experience was so poor, I walked out of the store with the intention of never going back. (Evidently, a lot of other people felt the same way because they’re not in business anymore.)

Bottom Line

The moral of the story is that all four of these dimensions (especially #4) are critical to a sales process that closes. When you have all those factors working together, WHO your customer buys from might just be YOU.