5 Buying Decisions and 6 Possible Buying Motives in a Sale
In the book "World Class Selling." author and sales trainer Roy Chitwood covers, among topics, five buying decisions made by a prospect in every sale and six possible buying motives. The two topics are summarized in this presentation.
5 Buying Decisions and 6 Possible Buying Motives in a Sale
Five Buying Decisions
Six Possible Buying Motives
In the Sales Process
Summarized From “World Class Selling” by Roy Chitwood
As sales professional we often focus on the selling process in order to track a
commitment. Different labels are put on selling steps but generally they are seen
as: approach, qualification/needs analysis, agreement on needs, solution
response, objection response, agreement, negotiation and commitment.
What can be forgotten--and should not be--is that a prospect is also going
through a buying process in step with your efforts to sell.
As a consultative salesperson you want to demonstrate how the investment in
your product or service is of value to the needs of the business of the client,
rather than a purchase from the lowest-cost provider.
The more you understand the dimensions of buying decisions and the possible
motives behind them, the more value you will be able to demonstrate to the
Let me first address the buying decisions. Below I look at six possible buying
What Your Prospects Don’t Tell You
We buy numerous things that are not sold to us. We buy on our own initiative to
satisfy our need and we buy almost without thinking.
However, when something is being sold to us, we do think, and our prospects do
the same notes sales consultant and trainer Roy Chitwood of Max Sacks
International, and author of “World Class Selling.”
We have to first approach the prospect with the understanding that we are an
unknown quantity and, therefore, there are going to be questions and natural
doubts about the value of conducting business with us.
There are five buying decisions everyone makes when we are selling to
them. These decisions always come into play even if the prospect is not fully
conscious of them. Also, even if the buyer understands what elements are part of
a decision, they are not always openly expressed.
By understanding the decisions they will make when dealing with you, the better
off you are to get them to answer “yes” to each of the questions.
Roy also stresses that the buying decisions always occur when you are
selling, and they occur in a precise, psychological order.
1) About you, the salesperson
2) About your company
3) About your product or service
4) About the price/value
5) About the time to buy
The first buying decision: About you, the salesperson
The prospect’s first impression is not the product or service you sell, but you.
The unspoken concerns revolve around:
1) Your integrity
2) Your judgment
When talking about your integrity they are judging if they feel you are really
interested in their success. Do you understand the needs of their business?
Judgment is whether you understand and can show how what you offer matches
to the true needs and desires of the client.
The more you understand your company, the market you serve, the market
segment of the prospect and their potential customers and reflect that knowledge
with credibility and confidence, the stronger position you are in to satisfy
questions in the mind of the prospect.
The second buying decision: About your company
In addition to liking and trusting you, the client has to believe in the credibility of
Much of this is established first by you. Still, the prospect wants to view the
company as credible and trustworthy.
Their expectation may range from the level of assumed reliability (handle my
order right) to trusted advisor as an integrated consultant that is a key part of
The third buying decision: About the product or service
The prospect is not simply deciding if they want to buy from you.
They want to decide, both emotionally and logically, “Does this product or service
really meet my needs?”
I address buying motives below but the prospect is making a choice for you over
two other options:
1) No action at all
2) Other alternatives
Other alternatives are not simply other companies that you would define as direct
competitors The buyer may be comparing the investment in your product or
service to whether they want to spend a like amount of money on an additional
staff member or a different capital purchase.
When a purchase is made by a larger organization then the purchase is much
more influenced by multiple people with different agendas and priorities beyond
your main contact or the person you perceive as the "decision maker."
Regardless if selling to a company small or large, you have to provide a sufficient
value to the customer’s business to be seen as a higher payoff than other
The fourth buying decision: About the price/value
Now the client is ready to consider price, but he or she looks at “affordability” as
the value that will be returned for the investment.
The more credibility you have established on the first three buying motives, the
more the sale will be about value vs. lowest price. That is why it is imperative to
avoid the “So what does it cost?” question until you have built as strong a
foundation of value as possible.
The fifth buying decision: The time to buy
This is more client-controlled, but if you have a legitimate reason for sooner
timing, then the prospect deserves to hear it from you.
There may be time sensitive aspects to your offer that necessitate a decision by
the prospect. Examples: the end of an available tax credit that makes the
purchase more cost effective, the end of an existing product line or a pending
non-negotiable price increase.
The six buying motives
It can never be ignored that people buy for their own reasons, not ours.
Their reasons may not necessarily be sensible, intelligent or even rational from
our perspective, but they are their reasons.
People have six motives for buying any product or service:
1) Desire for financial gain
2) Fear of financial loss
3) Comfort and convenience
4) Security and protection
5) Pride of ownership
6) Satisfaction of emotion
The five buying decisions came in a sequential, building order. The six buying
motives, on the other hand, do not come in a particular order although most
prospects, especially if you are in business to business sales, are clearly looking
for spending to be an investment in new business and a financial gain. Certainly
in advertising, my field, that is the case at the fundamental level.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the six buying motives are all
founded in emotional decision. Often more than one motive exists, but at different
levels of importance. Let me provide some examples.
Desire for gain
Most of our prospects are going to have this as their primary motive whether they
measure the financial gain directly or indirectly.
If investing in advertising, as noted, then the expectation is to generate more
prospects and, ultimately, profitable new customers.
If buying a new truck for a fleet a motive for gain may be the increased fuel
efficiency of the truck to reduce operating costs, lower maintenance costs or
improved hauling capacity that allows for greater productivity in use.
On a personal level an investment in real estate, mutual funds or other forms of
direct payback for personal gain or business profit can be a dominant reason as
a buying motive.
Fear of loss
While buying insurance is an obvious example of spending to avoid a loss, there
are other examples.
In business, a prospect who feels they are losing market share or losing out on
new opportunities may be motivated by a fear of loss. This can lead to spending
to better compete. For example, a company may open a new distribution center
or increase training for customer service or sales staff to defend market share.
Comfort and convenience
A few examples of personal comfort and convenience in business would be
having a comfortable office chair or a reserved parking space by the front door of
At an organizational level, the convenience of dealing with your company can be
seen as having you being a responsive representative. As the prospect works
with your company, though, the view can expand to include dealing with other
parts of your company with whom the client interacts: delivery, billing, your
assistant or any employee of the company.
Security and protection
Smoke alarms or a security fence are good examples of purchasing for security.
In business, keep in mind security in choosing the source of a purchase is
important. There is an old noted saying in the technology field that no purchasing
agent ever got fired for choosing to buy from IBM. Times, of course, have
changed but you must be aware of brand preference as a form of safety.
Because of previous experience, recommendation by others or brand reputation,
your product or service needs to, ideally, be established as the superior overall
value for purchase.
At the least, as sales guru Brian Tracy notes in his training, you need to be
viewed as the safest and best choice or the least risk decision. Using the
Microsoft office suite might be viewed by some in this way. It represents the
best overall choice of use and support vs. one particular application being
uniquely better but not offering as much total value.
Fear of criticism by others for choosing your product or service can be seen as
an unsafe choice. In the early years of USA Today, where I worked as part of my
career, the company had to battle the “McPaper” tag that kept prospective
advertisers from spending their marketing budgets with us.
We had to battle the perception that the content was not credible enough and,
thus, not creating a quality readership. Even though research validated the
demographic quality of readers, there was still an issue that greater editorial
credibility was needed before certain clients would work with us or give us a
greater share of their budgets. “Editorial quality” was a subjective, emotional
It may not have seemed fair (or logical) from our perspective, but it was a reality
to the prospect and their advertising agencies and had to be overcome.
Fortunately that view became virtually non-existent and USA Today is now a
well-established brand as a news and information source.
Pride of ownership
Why does someone purchase a nicer version of anything?
The pride factor may be overt or subtle. I had a former boss who was compelled
to tell everyone about his Mercedes, Corvette and boat. He was a bit extreme but
he got personal satisfaction in talking about his possessions.
For others pride may be very internal through a sense of accomplishment.
Satisfaction of emotion
This can be in many ways.
Using the example of advertising again, you may not naturally associate
advertising with satisfaction of emotion. Still, many businesses see themselves
as up-and-comers (Hyundai and Kia Motors), market leaders (General
Electric) or innovators (Apple). Advertising reinforces their market position to the
Think about the premium paid by a company to be a sponsor for the Olympics or
World Cup. The total value of association cannot be measured in just dollars
and cents whether it on the global stage, or sponsoring a trade show or panel
discussion through a business trade group.
Advertising is also used to support the morale of staff by validating the quality of
their employer. This may be through promotion of good corporate citizenship for
the environment, support of a particular cause like cancer research or
sponsorship of a Little League team for a community business.
Remember, people buy emotionally not logically. In order to sell effectively,
you must fix in your mind that everyone buys emotionally then rationalizes
the purchase with logical reasons for their action.
An example of different buying motives
Suppose you are a contractor talking to a couple considering a kitchen remodel.
Let’s look at how the different buying motives can influence a purchase.
One motive for the couple may be the value added to the home (desire for gain)
or the potential loss of value for keeping an outdated kitchen when it comes time
to sell (fear of loss).
A remodel may make the kitchen more functional (comfortable and convenient).
Updated wiring reduces fire risk or new plumbing will prevent future leaks
(security and protection).
The homeowners can show off the new kitchen to friends at the end of the
project (pride of ownership) and they can get the personal satisfaction of the
beauty and style of the kitchen after the remodel (satisfaction of emotion).
Depending on individual preferences, owners may get more satisfaction from
using recycled or renewable materials in the remodel.
Any one or any combination of the Six Buying Motives can come into play in this
example. Ultimately you want to get to emotional motives, a rationalization of the
purchase and then the positive emotion of goodwill after the sale to have a
satisfied customer and, hopefully, a strong reference for other prospects.
Being more attuned to buyers decisions and motives for buying will lead to
greater sales success.
I have read numerous books related to sales, but let me recommend a few from
He has written numerous books related to sales but two in particular I like are:
“Getting to Closed” which is about effective territory management
“Ask Questions, Get Sales—Close the Deal and Create Long-Term
I have been a sales professional in advertising, marketing and media as a career.
This has included managing my own territories, selling with others and managing
sales teams. My background includes:
• Seven years in sales management including five years at the Puget Sound
Business Journal in Seattle growing local sales to over $5 million annually
(+70%). In Seattle I worked with an in-market staff, both outside and inside
sales, and later, when in Orange County, dispersed reps.
• Joint selling with local reps in the U.S. with USA Today. I also worked with
independent reps in Asia while maintaining individual revenue
responsibility. All of the work in Asia was pioneering to break new markets
with my dominant focus on Japan. During my tenure my national territory
grew to nearly $7 million annual revenue.
• Have opened and grown individual sales territories for local, regional and
national accounts. This included opening the Los Angeles office for the
Network of City Business Journals, the national sales arm of American
City Business Journals, the largest publisher of local business news.
I was born and raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of
Washington with a B.A. in Communications in Advertising.
A good portion of my professional career was in California—19 years split
between Los Angeles and Orange County. I returned to Seattle late 2012.
Recent work includes moment M, a start up ad tech mobile advertising demand
side buying platform (DSP: www.momentm.com