Why People Buy

By Paul Starkey
Published on: January 22, 2021

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How will your customers profit from doing business with you? That’s why they buy!

We have long offered this simple advice for getting prospects to buy: “stop selling time and equipment”.

Why? Because you should be selling solutions and expertise and professionalism, and not breaking it down by brand and model and hours and technologies. A car is a solution. “Overhead cam” is a technology. Most people buy cars.

But even as you offer solutions, would-be buyers are all asking themselves the same question. It is the #1 question they have, and if you don’t adequately answer this question, you will not likely make the sale. Their question is…

“How will I profit from doing business with you?”

To us, this is a more powerful version of the customer question, “What’s in it for me?” Profit strongly suggests the personal gain every customer is hoping for from a major, discretionary purchase. Clearly describing that gain makes the actual price secondary to the overall purchase decision. They want the profit.

Customers vary, of course. Each might see a slightly different profit for themselves in any given solution. Generally, though, the customer perception of “profit” has one or more of the following characteristics:

Functional. They need what the product/service does. Function is what people buy from plumbers and electricians and grocery stores (and not so much from integrators). But another aspect of function is that the product/service makes a needed activity easier or more convenient. A lot of CI’s focus on this.

Economical. It’s too good a deal to pass up. Big box retail is almost entirely focused on customers’ economic profit. CI’s can’t make this their M.O., but if you can develop a product/service that might pay for itself, over time, that would be a valuable proposition.

Emotional. This is huge. Fun, happiness, comfort, and security are powerful motivators. CI solutions are abundant in emotional profit, and not in necessarily obvious ways. Early on, my wife and I provided our daughters cell phones because we felt more comfortable, and safer, knowing that we could contact them at any time.

Social. This is why our daughters wanted cell phones (with unlimited texting). Esteem, popularity, and status are all potential areas of “profit” for customers. This can be an acute motivator for expensive, highly-discretionary purchases. Admit it: A Rolex is no more accurate a timepiece than a Timex; maybe less. But for many, it’s awfully cool.

Why an iPad Air, when your iPad2 was only six months old? The latest and greatest, and/or something so extraordinary that the customer must have it is a distinct “profit” motivator. As Jeffrey Gitomer has tweeted, “Head is attached to the price; Heart is attached to the wallet.”

Together, these various forms of customer profit add up to the overall value of your proposition. Depending how well you are able to sell it – identifying the areas your prospect needs to profit, and describing the value accordingly – can make all the difference in “buy”, versus “I’ll think about it.”

By the way. Our customers (maybe you, someday?) ask the very same question as they evaluate the value of our services.

And while we can readily demonstrate that our system has a proven and powerful economic benefit, its functional challenges – someone is going to have to direct the changes needed to achieve vastly improved results – give many owners pause. But if you’re up to doing some extra work for 90 days or so, we can promise you’ll be seeing significant economic gains long before the year is out.

Not to leave out: you will feel better about your business (emotional) and can brag avidly about it (social) while carrying boatloads of more cash to the bank (satisfying).

Keep it Vital.

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey is a 23 year CI industry veteran who led control manufacturer ELAN from infancy to a 150 person company. He is a visionary, keen on innovation, pioneer of on-line training, and numerous product innovations. He is co-founder of Vital Management.

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