Why Do People Buy? Understanding the Consumer Decision Making Process

To begin the business relationship successfully, the sales person should learn buying patterns based on consumer psychology. They should be able to answer, Why do people buy?

Buyers now have control over the flow of their own information. With this shift (due to the information era), the consumer decision making process has changed dramatically. Buyers are engaging with sales people much later in the buying patterns process, which changes the business relationship significantly. In fact, most of the time, buyers contact sellers after they have made their decision.

Suppliers have adapted to consumer psychology by offering more of the type of information buyers look for online and expanding their inside sales tools. Still, for the most part, buyers are wildly inefficient in helping themselves with their difficult buying decisions. Sophisticated buyers realize that they don’t know what they don’t know.

Click here for Program on Persuasion’s start-to-finish guide on how to answer the question, Why do people buy?

When buyers evaluate their businesses, they identify aspects that need improvement—either problems that need to be resolved or opportunities that need to be realized. In order to understand consumer psychology, we must understand the Buyer’s Journey. The Buyer’s Journey is a specific buying pattern that buyers follow before they change suppliers or buy something new, and it usually consists of three phases.

1. Consumer Decision Making Process: Problem Education

The first phase in the buyer’s journey is the idea that a problem or opportunity to improve exists. In this stage, buyers educate themselves: they may get their information from sources such as peers or colleagues, online independent sources, or vendor websites.

Regardless of where they are learning, buyers do not want to be disrupted by a salesperson until they have realized that they have a problem or opportunity. Until that point, they regard meeting with a buyer with a seller as a waste of their time. However, this is not always the case. Buyers report that some buyer-seller meetings are so valuable they would have paid for just the meeting itself. Nevertheless, there exists a huge gap between the type of interaction the buyer wants from the seller and what s/he typically gets.

Click here for our corporate sales training’s guide to developing a valuable business relationship.

2. Buying Patterns: Solution Education

Once a problem has been established, consumer psychology indicates that buyers start researching solutions. Buyers find salespeople less and less valuable during the first two steps in the buyer’s journey.

Although this fact is discouraging, salespeople should take note that the reason why they find us unhelpful is that buyers can do their own research.

3. Why Do People Buy? Solution Selection

Usually this third phase is when the sellers enter the consumer decision making process. Entry this late in the game is very undesirable for the salesperson. Yet still, rather than forcing the buyer into our sales process, the seller must meet them on the buyer’s journey itself.

Remember, buyers want help, but they don’t want to waste their time. The valuable salesperson, one who brings the problem solution and solution education to the buyer, will be welcomed much earlier into the buyer’s journey. When the seller can actually help the buyer make decisions by providing valuable information, then they are welcomed into the journey itself.

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Salespeople are entering the buyer’s journey much later than they once were, due to the ease of access in information. Buyers typically does not think they need the seller until the very end of their consumer decision making process. In order to be welcomed into the process, sellers need to position themselves as a valuable, indispensable resource, and they can do so only by providing valuable information.

Photo by Gili Benita.