Why People Really Buy

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Before I can answer the question, “How do I get more customers?” I think it’s important that you take a step back and try to figure out why people buy - and especially why they buy from you. You need the “why” before the “how” because even the highest converting tactics will fall flat on their sales-faces because you won’t have the substance to shape those tactics around.

Here I’ll show you.

If you were to fire up another tab in your browser right now and Google the “how” I bet you’ll find a whole bunch of articles from lots of well known resources listing all kinds of business development platitudes and generalities that leave you wanting for more. No, no wait I’ll do it for you, this way you don’t have to leave this page. Here you go -

The first 7-8 responses right there. From places like BusinessInsider, Inc.com and Entrepreneur promising you tips, tricks and tactics to help you get more customers right now. Even the top result outlining a process you’ve probably already heard or seen a bunch of times.

It’s general information that will probably lead you down an internet search rabbit hole because you won’t get what you need and the act of the doing the research gives your brain the same kind of dopamine hit that will come with actually doing the hard work of figuring out the “why”. General information about this stuff is important because it could inspire you to think about solutions or approaches you may not have thought of before but if you’re landing on these search results odds are you aren’t feeling all that creative and you need to find some results fast.

Here’s how to supercharge those “how” results but getting to better understand “why” people buy anything in the first place. This is the quick and dirty version because I want you to immediately jump from this post into actually doing something that will generate the sales you need for your business.

1. People are creatures of habit.

You’re a savvy business builder so I’m sure you built yourself a picture of your ideal customer avatar. You have their likes, dislikes, ages, geographic and lifestyle demographics but do you really understand their habits? Their real buying habits all the little instant gratification and self-indulgent buying habits. Odds are you don’t and you’re trying to sell something that disrupts the habit patterns of your customers.

Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely has done a ton of work around real life buying decisions and here’s the summary: more options lead to indecision as the buyer brain panics and decides to not choose and once a buyer makes a decision about the kinds of purchases they make it becomes habit and then the brain moves on. In real life your customers aren’t weighing the costs and benefits of every sales pitch they hear; they are mapping it against their previous experiences and they kinds of decisions they’ve made in the past they were already happy with. If you aren’t building your your offering in a way that makes it easy for people to just inject you into their daily lives then you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Does your offering fit into the habits your target customers already have? If not here’s a place to start.

2. Do you understand what your customers really value?

If this question was broken out in a series of college courses they would look something like this: Selling 101 says that your products and services should be solving a problem for your potential customers. Selling 201 says to connect that problem to the value your customer will get after they engage with your business. I’m willing to bet that you’ve already tested out of the first two courses so let’s jump right into the third. In Selling 301 I’m challenging you to get to the heart of what people really care about. Do your customers really care about saving time, money or <insert generic life goal>? (Read slightly sarcastically.) That’s the question that really matters. Let’s use a real example. If the only toilet breaks unexpectedly in your home what do you do? Well, you might try to diagnose it yourself if you’re a DIY’er and you had the time and space to do that or if you’re like most people you probably just want the problem fixed so that you can move on with the rest of your life. Good plumbers know that and will price in window that you’re willing and able to pay (no one is really happy when something you expect to work stops working), rewards them for being timely, fair and delivering quality repairs. That plumber is directly delivering value in a real life consequence kind of way.

I know I value plumbing that works when I need it to and I can honestly say I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about it. Does your offering deliver a guttural value for your customer that’s more than just an idea or a “would be nice”. Can you drill into the emotional places that people don’t really like to talk about because it wouldn’t present well in an Instagram post and deliver value there?

3. People are constantly looking for validation.

How many times have you pulled the trigger and bought something and then rushed straight to YouTube to see if there were reviews on the thing you just bought?

No one?

Just me?

People do this because they are looking for validation and to feel significant. When I buy something on Amazon and go back to watch reviews on that thing it’s because I want to know that I didn’t make a bad decisions. Because, I believe I’m the kind of person that makes (generally) good decisions. Odds are you have those feelings too. When customers buy, along with looking for real value and for something that fits into the habits they’ve already built for themselves, they are mapping that purchase against the idea of the ideal person they aspire to be. Your job is to support the ideas and beliefs your customers identify with because you’ll be able to better connect with them and shorten the know-like-trust cycle that’s required to get that customer to engage.

Sounds silly but if people like Shari Levitin author of “Heart and Sell: 10 Universal Truths Every Salesperson Needs to Know” support this idea then it’s got to have some weight right?! Here’s a direct quote from Levitin from a recent Forbes interview, “People today are consumed with a desire for ‘likes,’ friends, connections, and fame. Yes, there’s actually a little Kardashian in most of us. The average Millennial shifts among devices and apps 25 times every non-working hour in pursuit of the neurochemical high of approval.” - Forbes

If you’re struggling to find new customers then I would take a look at these three things first. Are you connecting with people in a real way, a way that could motivate them to buy? It’s great that you’ve refined your sales copy or just finished that free Facebook Ads online course but all the strategic sales copy in the world isn’t going to be enough to convince someone to take action if you aren’t reaching them in a significant way. Your best compass for this is thinking about how you buy. Not, how you think you buy or how you’d like to buy but what you’ve actually bought.

Take a look through your account statements and do a little “real-talk” style audit of your last dozen or so purchases. Can you put your finger on your real “why” for each of those purchases? Sure some might be pragmatic and functional but I’m sure you’ll find a few that were really just guilty indulgences or that contributed to supporting the “ideal you”. Take that ammunition and see if you can apply it to your offerings, can your product or service be those feelings for someone else?


Below this post is a one question survey. I’d love to help you with what you're struggling with when it comes to your business development. I’m promising to do my best to get back to everyone that responds.  

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