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Five buying decisions made by a prospect.

March 25, 2011

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for visiting this post.

In June 2014 I was approved to blog on LinkedIn and as part of gearing up my posts I did an updated version of the “Five Buying Decisions” post. So for something fresher I recommend the more recent post:

If you are active on LinkedIn and it makes sense to connect due to our common industry interests or location (Seattle/West Coast), certainly feel free to send me an invitation.

I hope you find some benefit to this post. All my new posts are exclusively on LinkedIn so if you find any value you can “follow” and get notification. I am shooting for one a week.




Steve Fawthrop


 As sales people we often focus on the selling process. The approach, qualification and closing along with other steps of “selling.”

What we often forget is that a prospect is also going through a buying process in step with our efforts to sell.

As a consultative salesperson you want to demonstrate how the investment in your product or service is of value to the needs of the business of the client, rather than a purchase from the lowest-cost provider.

The more you understand the dimensions of  buying decisions and the possible motives behind them, the more value you will be able to demonstrate to the prospect.

In this post I will address the buying decisions. I will address six buying motives on  follow-up.

 What Your Prospects Don’t Tell You

We buy numerous things that are not sold to us. We buy on our own initiative to satisfy our need and we buy almost without thinking.

However, when something is being sold to us, we do think, and our prospects do the same.

We have to first approach the prospect with the understanding that we are an unknown quantity and, therefore, there are going to be questions and doubts about the value of an investment with us.

There are five buying decisions everyone makes when we are trying to sell to them. These decisions always come into play even if the prospect is not fully conscious of it.

By understanding the decisions they will make about dealing with you, the better off you are to get them to answer “yes” to each of the questions.

The buying decision always occurs when you are selling, and they occur in a precise, psychological order.

1)     About you, the salesperson

2)     About your company

3)     About your product or service

4)     About the price/value

5)     About the time to buy

The first buying decision: About you, the salesperson

The prospect’s first impression is not the product or service you sell, but you.

The unspoken concerns revolve around:

1)     Your integrity

2)    Your judgment

When talking about your integrity they are judging if they feel you are really interested in their success. Do you understand the needs of their business?

Judgment is whether you understand and can show how what you offer matches to the true needs of the client.

The more you understand your company, the market you serve, the market segment of the prospect and their potential customers and reflect that knowledge with credibility and confidence, the stronger position you are in to satisfy the questions in the mind of the prospect.

The second buying decision: About your company

 In addition to liking and trusting you, the client has to believe in the credibility of your company.

Much of this is established first by you. Still, the prospect wants to view the company as credible and trustworthy.

Their expectation may range from the level of assumed reliability (handle my order right) to trusted advisor as an integrated consultant that is a key part of their operations.

The third buying decision: About the product or service

The prospect is not simply deciding if they want to buy from you.

They want to decide, both emotionally and logically, “Does this product or service really meet my needs?”

I will address buying motives later but the prospect  is making a choice for you over two other options:

1)     No action at all

2)     Other alternatives

Other alternatives are not simply other companies that you would define as direct competitors. Making a commitment has to fit into the value of the prospect’s overall business goals. If selling to a smaller business, the owner may be comparing the investment in your product to whether they want to spend a like amount of money on an additional staff member.

You have to provide a sufficient value to the customer’s business to be seen as a higher payoff than other choices.

The fourth buying decision: About the price/value

Now the client is ready to consider price, but looks at “affordability” as the value that will be returned for the investment.

The more credibility you have established on the first three buying motives, the more the sale will be about value vs. lowest price. That is why it is imperative to avoid the “So what does it cost?” question until you have built as strong a foundation of value as possible.

The fifth buying decision: The time to buy

This is more client-controlled, but if you have a legitimate reason for faster timing, then the prospect deserves to hear it from you.

Of course there may be time sensitive aspects of your offer that necessitate a decision by the prospect. A good example would be the end of an available tax credit by a certain date, that makes the purchase more cost effective, or the end of availability of a product line.


These tips are summarized from “World Class Selling” by Roy Chitwood, a Seattle-based sales trainer who I worked with in the past. Roy was a regular contributor to a sales column in the Puget Sound Business Journal for many years.

You can learn more about his company, Max Sacks International, and Roy at

Steve Fawthrop

714-876-7062, cell



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