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Six Buying Motives in a Purchase

April 7, 2011

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for visiting this post.

To my surprise, this has far and away been the most popular post I made to WordPress. Even though it was originally posted nearly four years ago, total views are over 2400 for 2014 and over 6100 since originally posting. I suspect there is always the common desire by those in sales to figure out the buyer.

In June 2014 I was approved to blog on LinkedIn and have shifted my regular posts to that platform. This included, initially, updating some of my WordPress posts, including his one.  For a fresher version of  the “Six Buying Motives” post, and to view all my posts on LinkedIn please go to:

I hope you find some benefit to this post, my other one on the five buying decisions, or posts of general interest.




In my last post I covered five decisions a buyer makes before purchasing a product or service. In this post I will cover six buying motives.

I predominantly sourced the basis of the previous post from “World Class Selling” by Roy Chitwood, president of Max Sacks International ( sales training. I do so again.

Before I cover the buying motives, let me summarize the five decisions made in a purchase by the prospect. They make decisions about:

1)      You. Are you seen as credible and concerned about their business?

2)      Your company. What is your reputation? Your history of performance?

3)      Your product or service. Is it needed or desired?

4)      Your price vs. value. How does what you offer compare to alternatives, including taking no action?

5)      The timing to make the purchase. You can provide incentives to make a commitment but ultimately the timing must fit the need of the prospect.

Now let’s address buying motives.

The six buying motives (please go to the LinkedIn post)…

It can never be ignored that people buy for their own reasons, not ours.

Their reasons may not necessarily be sensible, intelligent or even rational from our perspective, but they are their reasons.

People have six motives for buying any product or service:

1)      Desire for financial gain

2)      Fear of financial loss

3)      Comfort and convenience

4)      Security and protection

5)      Pride of ownership

6)      Satisfaction of emotion

The five buying decisions came in a sequential, building order. The six buying motives, on the other hand, do not come in a particular order although most prospects, especially if you are in business to business sales, are clearly looking for spending to be an investment in new business and a financial gain. Certainly in advertising, my field, that is the case at the fundamental level.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the six buying motives are all founded in emotional decision. Often more than one motive exists, but at different levels of importance. Let me provide some examples.

Desire for gain

Most of our prospects are going to have this as their primary motive whether they measure the financial gain directly or indirectly.

If investing in advertising, as noted, then the expectation is to generate more prospects and, ultimately, profitable new customers.

If buying a new truck for a fleet a motive for gain may be the increased fuel efficiency of the truck to a reduce operating costs, lower maintenance cost or greater hauling capacity that allows for greater productivity in use.

On a personal level an investment in real estate, mutual funds or other forms of direct payback for personal gain or business profit can be a dominant reason as a buying motive.

Fear of loss

While buying insurance is an obvious example of spending to avoid a loss, there are other examples.

In business, a prospect who feels they are losing their market share or losing out on new opportunities may be motivated by a fear of loss. This can lead to spending to better compete. For example, a company may open a new distribution center or increase training for customer service or sales staff to defend market share.

Comfort and convenience

A few examples of personal comfort and convenience in business would be having a comfortable office chair or a reserved parking space by the front door of the office.

At an organizational level, the convenience of dealing with your company can be seen as having you being a responsive representative. As the prospect works with your company, though, the view can expand to include dealing with other parts of your company with whom the client interacts: delivery, billing, your assistant or any employee of the company.

Security and protection

 Smoke alarms or a security fence are good examples of purchasing for security.

In business, keep in mind security in choosing the source of a purchase is important. There is, of course, the old famous saying in technology that no purchasing agent ever got fired for choosing to buy from IBM.

Because of previous experience, recommendation by others or brand reputation, your product or service needs to, ideally, be established as the superior overall value for purchase. At the least, as sales guru Brian Tracy notes in his training, you need to be viewed as the safest and best choice or the least risk decision.

Fear of criticism by others for choosing you can be seen as an unsafe choice. In the early years of USA Today, where I worked earlier in my career, the company had to battle the “McPaper” tag that kept prospective advertisers from spending their marketing budgets with us.

We had to battle the perception that the content was not credible and, thus, not creating a quality readership. Even though research validated the demographic characteristics of the readers, there was still the perception that greater editorial credibility was needed before certain clients would work with us or give us a greater share of their budgets.

It may not have seemed fair from our perspective, but it was a reality to the prospect and it had to be overcome. Fortunately that view became virtually non-existent and USA Today is now a well-established news and information source.

Pride of ownership

Why does someone purchase a nicer version of anything?

The pride factor may be overt or subtle. I had a former boss who was compelled to tell everyone about his Mercedes, Corvette and boat. He was a bit extreme but he got personal satisfaction in talking about his posessions.

For others pride may be very internal through a sense of accomplishment.

Satisfaction of emotion

 This can be in many ways.

Using the example of advertising again, you may not naturally associate advertising with satisfaction of emotion. Still, many businesses see themselves as up-and-comers, market leaders or innovators (ex: Apple). Advertising reinforces their market position to the broader public. Think about the premium paid by a company to be an Olympic sponsor. The total value of association cannot be measured in just dollars and cents.

Advertising is also used to support the morale of staff by validating the quality of their employer.  Sponsorship of a Little League team shows a commitment to community by a business.

Remember, people buy emotionally not logically. In order to sell effectively, you must fix in your mind that everyone buys emotionally then rationalizes the purchase with logical reasons for their action.

An example of different buying motives

Suppose you are a contractor talking to a couple considering a kitchen remodel. Let’s look at how the different buying motives can influence a purchase.

One motive for the couple may be the value added to the home (desire for gain) or the potential loss of value for keeping an outdated kitchen when it comes time to sell (fear of loss).

A remodel may make the kitchen more functional (comfortable and convenient). Updated wiring reduces fire risk or new plumbing will prevent future leaks (security and protection).

The homeowners can show off the new kitchen to friends at the end of the project (pride of ownership) and the couple can get the personal satisfaction of the beauty and style of the kitchen after the remodel (satisfaction of emotion). Depending on individual preferences, a couple may get more satisfaction from using recycled or renewable materials in the remodel.

Any one or any combination of the Six Buying Motives can come into play in this example.  

Ultimately you want to get to emotional motives, a rationalization of the purchase and then the positive emotion of goodwill after the sale to have a satisfied customer and, hopefully, a strong reference for other prospects.

Being more attuned to buyers decisions and motives for buying will lead to greater sales success.


Steve Fawthrop

714-876-7062, cell

 @Steve Fawthrop

Google +: +stevefawthrop



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