by Barbara Fowler
Clients can quickly and decisively change how they purchase a product or service. Our sales and marketing success can seem to hang precariously on our clients’ “whims” at times. While the rules that govern solid sales and marketing strategies have been altered by our age of technology and light-speed communication, customers’ motives to buy remain fastened to their emotions.
Specifically, customers are consciously or subconsciously guided by their dominant buying motives (DBM). While these motives can differ from client to client, the essential base motives are based on five factors: pride, profit, love, need, and fear. Just as these motives dominate our determination of professional goals and life pursuits, they also drive our customers’ buying decisions.
The dominant buying motive is the most important reason a client is going to buy from you. As a professional, you must determine why a product or service will satisfy the client’s needs. What is the client’s background and reasoning for a purchase? Is this a one-time sale in his or her mind? How can you change that perception? When you start delving into these questions, you can build a customer for life.
4 Strategies to Target Dominant Buying Motives
1. Ask Questions
Straightforward questions directed at a client can many times be the key to understanding that client’s motives and future plans. Some clients can be more guarded with personal information, of course, but simple prompts that guide the direction of a conversation can be very enlightening for you.
For example, a client might relay to you that he or she wants to increase the revenue of a business. You might reply with a suitable response such as, “Help me understand. Why is that important to you?” or “What will that mean to you?” A general question such as this can open up a whole conversation with clients about their goals, projections, and possible reservations about for their future. From this conversation, you can begin to determine if a desire for more revenue is solely profit-driven or if underlying factors exist.
Attentive listening to client responses is essential to pinpointing a dominant buying motive. The initial questions allow you to understand a client’s current situation and future goals, but diving deeper into how that will translate into what you can provide takes keen ears.
Follow-up questions need to be specific and relate directly your clients. You can glean the most information and insight from questions that force clients to self reflect. “What difference will that make in your lifestyle?” allows them to examine their lives outside of work. “What would you need to do differently to produce more revenue?” directs their attention to any inefficiencies or weaker strategies that are preventing certain goals. “How committed are you to making the changes necessary to produce more revenue?” reinforces their determination to reach for their goals and plan accordingly. Genuine, intent listening builds client rapport and helps you target the prime motives for a client’s past actions and future pursuits.
3. Respect the Customer or Client
Dominant buying motives can help you close a sale or direct your marketing towards emotional needs, but they can also quickly backfire on you if you don’t respect your client. To build that lifetime customer, a base of mutual respect is necessary. Business relationships can be built or toppled by the core motives of pride, profit, love, need, and fear.
Consider a practical example. Let’s say that a tree falls on a homeowner’s house. The dominant motives to fix the house are fear, need, and love. The fear is inspired by damage done to the house and further damage if the tree is not removed. The need derives from the essential need for shelter. The love comes from the fact that the house could be an actual structure that connotes family and personal growth.
Because of these critical needs and the issue of time, the homeowner chooses a company that can do the job quickly. The profit motive takes a backseat. However, if that company charges too much and performs substandard work, the homeowner can feel extorted. This feeling turns into bitterness since the company hurt the homeowner’s pride as well as his or her profit due to its lackluster work.
The dominant motives of the homeowner were taken advantage of and, as a result, the homeowner feels violated and wronged. The customer has several avenues to communicate negative reviews of that company. The company, in turn, loses what could have been a solid client relationship by trying to maximize its short-term profit instead of looking at the situation as an opportunity to gain a lifetime customer. Respect for the customer would have averted this loss.
4. Benefit the Customer
Dominant buying motives helps in creating benefits for lifetime customers as well. For a marketing team, it is important to focus on these benefits rather than features. Instead of stating, “We specialize in helping mid-size businesses grow,” you can rephrase it as “The benefit of working with us is that we help you achieve your dreams” to stress the valuable nature of your expertise. Customers pursue purchases or interests that are beneficial to them in the short-term but also have lasting value.
From a sales perspective, the advantage of creating benefits based upon buying motives is pinpointing an emotional or practical desire and connecting that directly to your product or service. How will your service boost a client’s pride or allay a fear? Can your service increase profits by addressing the needs of your client? Will your service benefit your client so much that they can spend more time with friends and family? If you can meet these motives, then you can form a lasting and successful bond with that client.
The dominant buying motives of customers and clients can be targeted through direct, reflective questions and attentive listening and follow-up. Communication is the key to determining what emotional or professional factors are directing a customer’s present and future purchases. Once these targets have been satisfied, it is crucial that continued service to a customer be both beneficial and respectful. Even in our fast-paced world, lifetime business relationships can be established and nurtured.
Barbara Fowler, Managing Director at Chief Outsiders, a provider of part-time marketing executives to help mid-sized businesses. Fowler’s specialties lie in sales and marketing synchronization, global business strategies and family business turnaround techniques. A frequent speaker and writer on topics such as leadership, cultural diversity and developing an environment of success, she has effectively led culturally diverse organizations and written and implemented training programs for CMOs worldwide.