What it Really Takes to Win in a Tough Economy


When Your Prospects are in “Survival Mode,” Sell Survival Gear

At its core every sale is driven by a customer need. When times are tough, be sure to adjust your value proposition to focus on the core “survival” needs of your prospective customers. We call these the Primal Buying Motives.

When the economy is booming and prospects are financially comfortable, their purchase decisions can be driven by a variety of factors including:

  • Convenience
  • Amusement
  • Desire to fit in with the crowd
  • Desire to stand out from the crowd
  • Comfort
  • Pride of ownership
  • Satisfaction of emotion (love, anger, stress, joy, etc.)

We call these secondary buying motives, although they are sometimes the true driver of the buying decision. But when times are tough, the Primary Buying Motives take over as the exclusive driver of most significant purchase decisions. These include:

  • Desire for gain (usually financial)
  • Fear of loss (again, usually financial)
  • Security and protection
  • Pride of ownership (ego satisfaction)

Primal Buying Motives are emotional – and the buying DECISION is justified by logic. Often more than one Primal Buying Motive may apply to the same buying decision.  It is extremely important that you uncover these underlying buying motives because the prospect in all likelihood will not easily volunteer this information. They are sometimes only vaguely aware of their Primal Buying Motives themselves.

By opening a sales call with BENEFITS that address as many Primary Buying Motives as possible, you can gauge which of them provoke your prospects’ strongest responses. Then of course you will focus your conversations on the most relevant issues related to the individual’s Primal Buying Motives.

For example, suppose during an initial prospecting call you open by describing the benefits of your product or service that appeal to comfort and convenience, and  it is clear that you have hit on a hot button for the prospect. This tells you to keep returning to that motive.  However, more than one Primal Buying Motive may apply, and the motive you have not yet uncovered may turn out to be the most important of all. So continue to present benefits and ask questions designed to uncover ALL of the prospect’s Primal Buying Motives.

Uncover the other buying motives by asking good, open-ended questions to gather additional reactions. For example, suppose you have already discovered that profit – desire for gain – is extremely important to your prospect. You can start exploring other areas by asking questions like: “How would your organization feel if you were to solve the problem by …?” This tells you whether being a “hero” is important to this person.

Asking further questions to determine the prospects NEED for your product or service is fairly straightforward, but you do not want to make the common mistake of asking overly direct questions. At this point the prospect isn’t usually highly motivated to give you the information you need to sell them, so asking for that information needs to be done subtly and graciously with carefully crafted questions.

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