Friday, July 10, 2009


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Daily Sales Tip: Why People Buy

A fundamental question in selling is not why people sell, but why people buy.

It is well known that people buy for their own reasons -- not for the seller's. In fact, their motivation to buy may have very little to do with the reasons why the seller thinks they should buy. When it comes down to it, people buy something to meet their needs, or resolve the problems they are facing.

According to Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling, people decide to buy when, "the pain of the problem and desire for a solution have been built to the point where they are greater than the cost of the solution."

A good sales professional can help clients come to that realization. But it doesn't happen as easily as you might think. Most people learn the basics of conducting needs analysis, customizing solutions and linking benefits to pain in their Sales 101 class. However, once they are out in the real world, they forget to bring these classroom lessons to life, and somehow their competence, composure, and confidence suddenly evaporate. Faced with self-induced, pressure-filled selling situations, they confuse telling with selling.

As dairy farmers are apt to say, "Cows don't give milk. You have to take it from them." The same is true with selling. Nobody just gives you a sale. You have to take it. But how you "take it" is very counterintuitive. A natural tendency of most sellers is to rush in. And as the Newtonian principle outlines, the equal and opposite reaction on the part of the buyers is to shut them out.

Like milking a cow, selling can be a delicate operation. While a client probably won't threaten you with a hoof, you're still faced with the fact that the harder you push, the more pushback you get. Why? As Harry Truman once said, "The best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it."

Nobody likes to be told what to do -- not even children. Imagine going to a doctor who gives you the same prescription she gave the previous patient because it worked. By not listening, by not being inquisitive, by not clarifying assumptions, sellers come across as not caring -- or caring more about themselves -- and perpetuate the stereotype of the arrogant, pushy "salesman" we all love to hate.

Source: Abhay Padgaonkar, President of Innovative Solutions Consulting, LLC (

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