#18: How do people buy?

Imagine two teams: in one group there is you and every other business owner in the world, on the other side, there is your future client. 

The game is to make a client/customer buy from you (and not your competition). The next rule of the game is to win as many clients as possible. The third rule of the game is to make those clients so happy with you and your offer that they buy from you again. 

There! I think in those two sentences, I’ve managed to summarize the nature of business sales. 

So what can we do to make sales? The answer to this question lies in the understanding of ‘how’ and ‘why’ people buy. 

WHY PEOPLE BUY

People buy for a number of reasons. Traditionally, in most business training, we are being taught that people buy because they have a problem and they want it fixed. 

However, not everyone with a problem has the motivation to fix it. 

One of my favourite examples is about someone who is ill. They are not well. Something in their body is sending an ‘SOS’ signal. Everyone around them worries about them and pleads that they go to a doctor. A doctor is someone who has a solution to the problem. 

So why do so many people delay getting an appointment and getting checked? 

If you live in a country where you have to pay for healthcare, your answer might be: ‘because they can’t afford it.’ However, as someone who has always lived in countries where healthcare was free, I noticed the same behaviour from not-so-eager-patients regardless of where they had to pay for the doctor’s appointment or not. 

The same goes for people living in bad conditions, wrong relationships, working in soul-sacking jobs or running businesses that need urgent help.

As curious as it is, having a solution to someone’s problem is not enough for people to come to us, not to mention to invest in us. 

We need to convince them and reassure them that: 

  • Solving their problem is possible
  • Solving their problem is doable
  • Solving their problem will not be overly difficult
  • Solving their problem can be done in a certain amount of time
  • Solving their problem has been done before
  • You are someone who solved that problem before
  • They are someone who is able to do what is needed in order to solve that problem or have the right circumstances to overcome the challenge

Not everyone would describe their situation as a problem. Some people might say that they buy, not because they have a problem, but because they felt a ‘lack’ of something or because they wanted to feel better. 

We could argue over semantics here, or simply agree that all purchase decisions come from a desire for a change (no matter how small or insignificant: ie. “Before the purchase, I did not have a Gucci bag. Now I have two…‘) 

The desire for a change in circumstances is why people buy. 

The change can apply to many things: 

  • Change in health
  • Change is possessions
  • Change in environment
  • Change in future possibilities 
  • Change in an emotional state
  • Change in status (how other people see us)
  • Change in our identity (how we see ourselves)

In many cases, we need more than one possibility for a change in order to part with our money or take action to improve our situation. 

That reluctant person who is ill will only go to see a doctor when they are ready to change how they feel and they see value in life without pain. 

If your business helps people live a better life, and most businesses would swear by this value, do not forget that in order to help your clients, you have to first help them see the possibilities and reassure them that change is possible for them. 

HOW DO PEOPLE BUY?

Now that we know why people buy, we can identify what we need to cover in our marketing. 

But before we can shake hands over a signed contract, we need to answer one more question: how do people buy. This is where the aspects of a sale presentation and brand awareness comes into place. 

The answer to the question ‘how people buy‘ is twofold; people buy either reluctantly or on impulse.

If you think this is a bit of contradiction, you are right. We, humans, are complicated creatures. We are also not very logical. We make decisions based on how we feel about something at a given time. Then we justify to ourselves by looking at the data and facts, or subjective ‘truths’. 

Have you ever caught someone, a child perhaps, doing something wrong and then you had to listen to a whole list of justifications, reasoning and explanations ‘why it wasn’t really their fault’?

When people buy, a similar process takes place. 

At first, there is a desire for a change and excitement for an opportunity to make the change ‘NOW’. 

For some people, this is where they press the “BUY’ button and do not concern themselves with anything else (until they have to look at a bank statement a few weeks later. Been there myself, except I tended to buy digital courses, rather than Gucci bags). 

The more careful ones (or the more ’experienced’ ones, which I belong to these days) look for reasons to justify their emotional impulse to make the purchase.

Each business will have those two groups of buyers. Each type of buyer will need a different type of message. 

This is why, when we create our sales pages or sales presentations we have to include the two types of messages: the message that creates excitement and promises the change and the message that reassures the buyer that change will be possible with our product or offer. 

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