Embrace Possibility How to Sell with Integrity – Lesson 3 – Why People Buy
/How to Sell with Integrity – Lesson 3 – Why People Buy

How to Sell with Integrity – Lesson 3 – Why People Buy

Why People BuyIn this third lesson on How to Sell with Integrity, we're going to focus on how people decide to buy.

Although this lesson is interesting and helpful on its own, its effectiveness is powerfully multiplied when used within the context created after reading Lesson 1 - The First Thing to Think About and Lesson 2 -  Matchmaker - Assist the Buyer. If you haven't reviewed those articles recently, I recommend that you do so before reading on.

Now that you have clearly understood your customer's needs and wants and determined that what you have to sell is an excellent fit to meet those needs and wants, it is almost time to get to the juicy part of sales - the exchange of money for value.

Before getting to that important moment, it is helpful to understand how people make their buying decisions and why they currently buy the things they buy. Having this knowledge will greatly increase your chance for making a successful sale with integrity.

To understand how people decide when to exchange their money for some product or service, let's look at how we make our buying decisions. Think about purchases you've made recently and the reason for those purposes. I've found these to be the common reasons we buy:

Belonging and Acceptance

One of the strongest drivers for any person is the desire to belong and to satisfy the need for acceptance within a group. Think about all the things you've bought just because other people had it, it was the fashion of the time or it helped you to be accepted into a group you wanted to be in.

This is why I've owned a Jansport bookbag, a motorcycle and golf clubs. Since then, I've given away my Jansport, sold my motorcycle and allowed my golf clubs (and accompanying pull cart) to collect dust. As I look at my current purchases, I'm surprised how many of my purchases are still based on this first reason.

How Knowing This Helps You: Build social proof by showing honest testimonial of your current clients being happy with your product or service or both and providing evidence that what you have to offer is preferred by the groups that your prospect is inclined to join. If you don't know which groups your prospect is inclined to join, go back to Lesson 1 (hint: use the same way to figure out what your potential customers want). Great way to build credibility is to serve others and being recognized as a consistent giver of value.

Boosting Self-Esteem and Confidence

Raising our self-esteem is one of those natural desires that greatly influence how we make decisions and when we decide to open up our wallets. A comedian once said "If women didn't like nice cars, men wouldn't be driving nice cars." and I have to admit there is some truth in that statement. We are all willing to spend money if we know it will help us improve the way we feel and look at ourselves.

It's not always about the practical use of what we buy that matters but how it makes us feel. The multi-BILLION dollar plastic surgery and cosmetics industries have been a major beneficiary of this reason to buy, not to mention any company dealing in designer merchandise (clothes, leather goods and shoes).

How Knowing This Helps You: In addition to all the wants and needs you've gathered from your prospect, remember that your prospect always has a desire to boost their self-esteem and confidence. If what you offer can increase their self-esteem, always highlight how it can make your prospects feel even better about themselves. Look out for these warning signs for low self-esteem to help you find potential clients.


Pavlov's dog should really get some royalties. He is probably the world's most famous dog when it comes to conditioning. For those of you who think I'm talking about hair products, the dog's athletic prowess or have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain. For those who know where I'm going, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

Ivan Pavlov was a psychologist, and one of his most famous experiments was ringing a bell every time he was about to feed the dog and measuring the saliva levels. As you can guess, the dog soon associated the bell with being served food and automatically began salivating when he heard the bell. The basic idea is a stimulus (bell) triggers an automatic response (more saliva).

Although this experiment was conducted over 100 years ago, it provides our third explanation for why people buy. We are conditioned to buy. The goal of most advertisements is to associate a stimulus (their product) with an automatic response (handing our money over). I am shocked by how conditioned I am. I need to have Coca-Cola (or Pepsi) when I eat pizza, I automatically buy Bounty when I need paper towels and I think about GoDaddy when it's time to get a new domain name.

How Knowing This Helps You: Treat people well every time they buy from you and follow through on all of your promises. Be well-liked by smiling, being enthusiastic and listening intently. Click here to learn How to Build Rapport with Anyone.

Your actions will condition people to like, trust and believe you. Once they like you (because you've provided them with exceptional service) and trust you (because you've delivered what you promise), every time you make them an offer, they will associate you with all those great feelings and experiences.

Fulfilling Necessity and Convenience

Everyday there is someone buying food, gas and electricity and they do so because they either need it or it makes their life much easier. Out of all the reasons in this article, this one sets itself apart because it not only applies to everyone but products meeting this reason is very easy to sell. Who wouldn't exchange money for food when they are starving or pay for the use of a private bathroom after a week without showering. Unfortunately, due to the ease with which you can get someone to buy with this reason, competition is usually strong.

How Knowing This Helps You: Try to make what you are selling meet a need or help to make life more convenient. Be able to honestly answer "Yes" if someone asks whether your product or service is useful and whether it will make them happy.

If you have the "greatest" product ever and no one wants it but you, you're going to have a very hard time selling it. Although it is possible to educate and persuade your prospects about the benefits, it takes both time and money. You're better off selling something with some real demand. Anything that caters to any of the other reasons in this article is a great start. To set yourself apart, think about what you can offer that is unique to what is being offered.

Helping Someone You Know

I have a drawer full of Girl Scout cookies.

I didn't buy them to belong or be accepted into a group.

It hasn't really helped me boost my self-esteem or confidence.

I was definitely not conditioned to buy them.

It is something I don't need and it has actually made my life more inconvenient to find storage space for it.

So why did I do it?

To help out my co-worker's daughter.

That's it.

People buy things to preserve or build relationships. I am more inclined to buy something if I know that it will be helpful to someone I know. It is this reason I patronize my friend's restaurants, use my friend's services and buy girl scout cookies. I've come to realize that I tend to spend more on others than I do on myself. Life (which includes business) is about relationships and the more you give, the more you receive.

How Knowing This Helps You: Build relationships with everyone. If you haven't build up a strong network, start now. Once good relationships are established, your chances for getting a positive response for what you have to offer increases dramatically.

The best way to build your network is to help others. If you serve others without expecting anything in return, you will be the one that everyone wants to help even if it means buying some girl scout cookies. Relationships are ongoing and require maintenance. If you haven't done anything for your network lately, what are you waiting for?

Although it is important who you know, it is more important who knows you.

People rarely buy because of rational thinking and detailed pros and cons charts, they buy because of emotion. They ask themselves so many questions:

Will this be useful? Will it make me happy? Can I afford it? Will it do what it promises? Is it worth the money? Do I need it now? Do I trust this guy?

In the next lesson, we're going to talk about answering some of those questions and effectively building the bridge between what your prospect wants and what you have to offer.

Until then, I would be interested to hear how you currently make your buying decisions. Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section.


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Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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