Understanding the buyer needs and motivations is essential to build a sound marketing strategy and make your funnel as effective as it can be. And it’s not restricted to B2C: the issue is equally important in the B2B space (business buyers aren’t as rational as you think).
Buyer persona questionnaires are a handy tool, but make sure you speak to your business development team as well. Sales professionals are specifically trained to spot the hidden dynamics behind a sale, and their approach can deliver valuable insight to marketers.
I recently spoke on the matter with a very successful business development manager, and what follows are his views on buyer needs and motivations. I found them very useful and highly complementary to buyer persona research, and I hope you do too.
The three kinds of buyer needs
There are three types of customer needs we have to take into account in the sales process. What’s important to understand is that our offering must fulfil all three needs. Miss one, and you don’t have a sale. The three types of buyer needs are:
#1: TECHNICAL NEEDS
For the customer to consider your offering, your product or service must fulfil the technical needs identified by the potential client. Sometimes, they are obvious, for example when they appear as requirements in an RFP. However, they can also be very vague. In such cases, the job of the salesperson is to work with the buyer to help them define their technical needs and ideally match them to the benefits of the product or service.
#2: FINANCIAL NEEDS
At a basic level, your potential client has to be able to afford your product or service. But there’s more. The price of your offering must be consistent with the value it brings to your clients. For example, if it’s a truly unique or transformational tool that will radically increase the productivity of your buyer, you should price it according to the results it delivers. However, if it’s fairly standard, you’ll have to take into account the ongoing market rate.
#3: PERSONAL NEEDS
Any seasoned salesperson will tell you that personal needs take the top spot when you are closing a sale. It doesn’t matter how well your offering meets the technical and financial requirements; if you don’t cover your buyer’s personal needs, you won’t sell.
To satisfy the personal needs of our buyers, we first have to get under their skin. What makes your customers tick? What gives them meaning? In other words, what motivates them?
The seven types of buyer motivations
All buyers have at least one primary motivation, often more. Motivations play a crucial role in the sales process. If you discover them, you have the key to fulfilling the personal needs of the buyer and closing the sale. The seven types of buyer motivations are:
Most buyers (not all of them) will at least consider the price of a product or service in the decision-making process. However, for some of them, the price is the primary motivator. If that’s the case of your buyer, you have a tough sell ahead. You will only be able to sell if you give them your lowest possible price. Even then, your chances will heavily depend on the rates offered by your competitors.
We all know the power of fashion to drive sales in a big chunk of the consumer market, but you may be surprised to hear that it is also a strong motivator in the case of some B2B sales. Buyers motivated by fashion and trends want to invest in the products or services that everyone is talking about. It doesn’t matter if the customer’s real needs lie elsewhere; for buyers in this category, trends supersede other, more rational considerations.
#3: PEACE OF MIND
Some customers value peace of mind above everything else. They want to avoid problems and are prepared to pay more to have a hassle-free experience. In such cases, your goal in the sales process should be to avoid friction or inconvenience for your client. Offer them a good product or service that meets their technical needs, at a price that suits their financial needs, with a guaranteed and seamless fulfilment process, and you will win the sale.
It’s a fact of life that people buy from people, but this applies especially to a particular kind of buyers. For them, trust and human connections are essential. You’ll spot them because they often have a history of doing business with associates they have good personal relationships with. In such cases, focus on building a good relationship with your clients. The hard work is likely to pay off for years to come.
You will sometimes come across buyers who are anxious and lack confidence. It may be because they don’t understand what it is that they need, are in a new role or are afraid of making a mistake. If you have clients that fall into this category you should focus on giving them the security they need. Convince them that yours is the right product or service, at the best possible price, and that they will not regret buying from you.
Vanity is also a powerful motivator. In the selling process, you sometimes come across individuals with an overwhelming need to be recognised and admired for a particular reason, for example for their skills or knowledge in a particular area. Your strategy in such cases should be to make your admiration known, ask for their advice and above all make any good ideas look like they are coming from them, not you.
Some people are proud to be different. You know the sort: they have a fiercely individual approach, do things their way and delight in standing out from the crowd. More often than not, they also want others to recognise their singularity. A good salesperson will identify that difference motivates them and will make them feel unique, meeting their personal needs in the process.
Digging for gold
Identifying the buyer needs and motivations is rarely straightforward. They are irrational, intermingled and hidden from plain sight, so identifying them requires some detective work. The job requires an excellent ear, outstanding analytical skills and good understanding of human psychology. But it also pays off.
I’d like to thank Josep Sort for sharing his vast knowledge of buyer needs and motivations with me so I could use it as the basis for this article. (Cheers, dad!)