What influences buyers

July 8, 2009

In general people focus too much on understanding ‘selling’ rather than why customers ‘buy’. Ultimately, it is the buyer’s mental processes during a sales presentation that is the most important thing. Buyers are influenced by several factors:

You – there is no doubt that peoples reaction to the salesperson is a primary factor in the buying process. People simply will not do business with people they dislike and, conversely, people want to do business with people they like. You cannot control how you come over to a new person but you can learn from your mistakes. We all make mistakes, it is part of the learning process and in many ways it is the best way to learn assuming the negative consequences are not too great. Try to empathise with people, understand where they are coming from and how they are thinking about the things you are presenting. Again, people are not buying from your company or organisation, they are buying from you.

Previous history – people have good and bad experiences with different companies and different sectors. Prejudice is a hard thing to break down. Finding out why a person is not warming to you or your company is important. Remember, you are the ambassador not just for your company but for the sector you work in. You get the chance to undo a negative or reinforce a positive every time you talk to a client.

Satisfaction with present situation – the vast majority of businesses will only change supplier if they are very unhappy with the current service being provided. Changing supplier can be very costly. The company has to break in a new accounts payable department, get new people used to your systems and it takes time to build the rapport necessary for a long-term business relationship. There is a high opportunity cost in changing supplier. The message here is very simple. If you keep your customers happy they are unlikely to want to change. Mess them around and they will be out the door and to your competition.

Price & Credit – everybody has a bottom line. I always emphasise that price is the perceived value the customers is willing to pay for a good or service and as a perception it can be built up. But you also must live in the current market situation. My advice, where possible, is not to reduce your main price but to give concessions around the edge of the deal. Thus, give better or longer credit terms, guarantees or additional peripherals. These all add value to the deal but maintain your price integrity.

But if I am going to ask you to do one thing different it is to focus on the ‘buying process’ and stop focusing on the ‘selling process’. Focus on the customer.

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