November 16, 2022
Matt Jennings

What Motivates Buyers? The 7 Buyer Motives You Should Know

In a recession, buyers are much more hesitant to purchase. Learn how to overcome some of the most common B2B buying objections.

This is a guest blog from Matt Jennings, whohas experience across outbound, account and business development management, and sales management. He heads up Sales Operations at Sales Science and writes sales focused educational content at matjen.com.

To become an expert when it comes to selling, you must get proficient in knowing what motivates your customers to buy.

Understanding buyer motives is crucial because they heavily influence buyer behaviour when making purchase decisions, and will ultimately determine whether they buy or not.

With a strong understanding of buying motives, you can tap into the emotional reason someone will buy from you which plays a much more critical role in a buyer's decision making process.

In this post, I will explain just what those buying motives are.

Buyer Trends by Generation Infographic
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What is Buyer Motivation?

The ability to influence a customer's decision can only truly be understood with a firm understanding of the buying motives that will impact the purchase of your product or service.

So how would one define a buying motive?

A buying motive is the psychological reasoning that drives a customer to purchase. These motives typically fall into three core categories: conscious vs dominant, rational vs emotional or product vs patronage.

Buyer Motive Categories

Conscious vs Dormant 

Conscious buying motives are those that are actively considered by the buyer when making their purchase decision. For example, the buyer may be carefully weighing the pros and cons of a purchase and evaluating the potential benefits or risks associated with the purchase.

Buying motives that are dormant are those purchasing decisions not entirely considered by the buyer, yet play a part in their purchase decision. These motives may be more subconscious or instinctual - the buyer may not even be fully aware of them.

Rational vs Emotional

Rational buyer motives are driven by cold, hard facts and logical reasoning. These buying motives may be related to product quality, price, or customer reviews.

On the other hand, emotional buying motives are those driven by feelings and emotions, such as buyer trust or satisfaction. These buyer motivations may be related to their opinions regarding customer service, brand image, or buying experience.

Product vs Patronage

Product buyer motives are motivations in favour of the actual product or service being purchased. These motivations might include things like performance, features, or product quality.

Patronage buying motives are related to the buyer's relationship with your brand or company. For example, these buyer motivations might include brand perception, customer service, or brand loyalty.

Seven Buyer Motives to Pay Attention To

With a strong understanding of buying motives, you can tailor your marketing and sales strategies to better meet your customers' needs. Some buying motives that you should pay attention to include the following:

Desire for Gain

Some buyers are motivated primarily by a desire for gain or financial reward. This motive may be influenced by sales price, discounts, or buyer savings. Or, gain might be achieved in the form of other intrinsic motivations, such as social status.

Fear of Loss

Other buyers are motivated by a fear of loss or negative consequences. These buyers may be more risk averse, so their purchase decision will be based on preventing a bad thing from happening. 

Cybersecurity products could be an example of a product where fear of loss is an intrinsic motivator, i.e. fear of data loss from security breaches.

Want for Security

Some buyers are motivated by a desire for security or stability, particularly if these people are future-oriented. 

Fulfilling a want for security might be in the form of a specific product, i.e., purchasing a security camera for household protection. 

Or, it may be driven by trust, i.e. I am buying from this vendor because I made a purchasing decision from them previously, and need the security in knowing that they are going to be looked after

Perceived Benefit or Value

These buyers are motivated by the product's perceived benefit or value. 

Buyers that purchase with this motivation in mind would benefit from being educated about features and case studies related to the product they are purchasing. 

In addition, they want to know what tangible benefit they'll receive with your product.

Comfort and Convenience

Some buyers are motivated by a simple desire for comfort and convenience. They want things that will make their life as easy as possible. 

To appeal to this buyer, you want to explain what makes your product so much easier to use than the competitors and make the sales process as simple as possible.

Pride of Ownership

Some brand marketing efforts can make certain products seem more desirable than others. These customers may be influenced by things like buyer perception of product exclusivity, buyer perception of product quality, or buyer perception of brand reputation.

Advertisers know this, and it's the precise reason they hire celebrities to promote their products. A particular pride comes with owning a product that is also endorsed by a certain A grade celebrity.

Satisfaction of Emotion

Sometimes a product will stir a specific emotion in your customer which may be influenced by internal or external stimulus. 

For example, buyers may be motivated by their desire to feel emotionally powerful, or more confident, driven by the desire to impress someone in their social circle. 

Or, there might be a particular emotional connection to a product that holds some significance in someone's life, i.e. a wedding dress on a wedding day.

Secondary Buying Motives

Now that you are aware of the 7 key buyer motivations, consider some of these secondary motives to purchase which could be influenced by the one or more of the buying motives above.

Need

When someone says they need something, there could be a multitude of motives behind the desire to purchase. 

Because every buyer's motivation for purchasing your specific product is unique, it is essential to understand why they need or want your product. 

For example, the need for a product or service could be appeased by buyer motivations such as pride of ownership, comfort and convenience or want of security.

What is their motivation for purchasing? If you understand the why, you'll be able to better serve the prospect's needs.

Pleasure

It's rare for people to purchase out of necessity alone. There is often some pleasure that is also gained from the transaction.

As a sales professional, leveraging this particular buyer's motive can be helpful if the product you sell is that of luxury, and you can effectively communicate the pleasure that would be experienced from purchasing your product.

For example, someone looking to purchase a spa pool may find their primary motivation is pleasure. If the salesperson can articulate how relaxing owning the spa would be or how the back massager will feel after a long hard day at work, they’ll tap into the customers desire for pleasure.

Pleasure could be influenced by the primary motivations of comfort and convenience and perhaps even pride of ownership if the customer is driven by status.

Aspiration

Many people are compelled to purchase from a place of aspiration.

They want to improve themselves, and certain products and services can help them do that.

Purchasing a gym membership is a service that could be considered an aspirational purchase (i.e.wanting to have a muscular or slimmer body). 

However,  aspiration could also be a motivation for a pride of ownership (think bodybuilders) or satisfaction of emotion (consider someone who feels good about training at the gym).

Acceptance

"If you have one, I want one too."

This classic FOMO, or fear of missing out, that we all see promoted time and time again in advertising.

Acceptance could be fulfilled by buyer motivations such as the desire for gain (i.e. social status), the impulse to consume (i.e. selling fast, get in quick!), or pride of ownership (i.e. the NFT space and Bored Ape Yacht Club).

Every Customer’s Motivations to Buy is Unique

As you can see from the examples above, buyer motivations can be complex and vary significantly from buyer to buyer. 

Understanding the different buying motives that may influence your prospects' purchasing decisions can better tailor your marketing message and sales influence to appeal to their needs and motivations. 

This will help you close more sales and generate more revenue for your business.

How can your understanding of buying motives help you sell better?

So, now that you understand a prospects' key buying motives, how does a salesperson become adept at identifying the buying motives that might help close sales?

Tip #1: Active Listening is Key

First and foremost, salespeople must demonstrate active listening skills to fully understand the buyer's motivations. This means actively listening to buyer questions and concerns, asking open-ended questions, and probing for additional buyer insights.

Tip #2: Leverage Buyer Insights for Effective Sales Strategies

Once you understand buyer motivations, you can use this information to create compelling sales strategies to move the sale forward. 

For example, you might focus on highlighting product features or benefits (if the motive is perceived value or benefit), positioning your brand as a trusted source of security and stability (if the motive is want for security), or emphasising buyer convenience and ease of use (if the motive is for comfort and convenience).

Tip #3: Use buyer insights to build rapport and trust

Finally, understanding buyers' motivations can help you build stronger buyer-seller relationships and establish trust with your prospects. 

Demonstrating a genuine understanding of buying motives can help improve buyer satisfaction, leading to higher sales volumes and better buyer loyalty. 

This is because you understand the 'why' of their purchasing decision.

Conclusion

Ultimately, understanding buyer motives is crucial to creating effective marketing and sales strategies that can successfully meet your customers' needs. 

By tailoring your marketing efforts to address buying motives, you can increase buyer engagement and help drive more sales and revenue for your business.