Three Factors That Motivate Your Customers to Buy
9 years ago

In last week’s article on “Why You Should Be Selling Emotions, Not Features”, we talked about how having in-person sales conversations can greatly improve your chances of learning what emotionally activates your customers.

Today, I want to share with you more about how to evaluate your customer’s emotional landscape and what motivates them to buy.

In his Human Motivation Theory (or need theory), American psychologist David Clarence McClelland (May 20, 1917 – March 27, 1998) talks about three major motivators for humans. That basically every human is basically motivated by these three things.

First Motivator: Power

This is all about control and influence. We, as humans, are seeking, even just from a reptilian brain level, who is in control. Who has power? Do I have power? Do they have power? Who’s dominant? Who’s submissive?

There is a seeking of this power that we have a need for that motivates us.

Second Motivator: Affiliation

This is the need for love and belonging. We seek to be affiliated with our tribe. Humans are very tribal at our very nature and at our very core. There’s a lot of safety that we gain from that affiliation need.

Third Motivator: Achievement

This one is about literal goals being achieved – setting those goals and having them manifest in the real world such that they’re tangible. That’s achievement.

Now, what we want you to look at is what your customers are most motivated by in your particular business.

If you start to think about your customer base from a personality types – are they more intellectual geniuses or are they more emotional geniuses? Do they lead more with their emotions or are they more in the physical world? Are they more physical geniuses? What type are they?

That typing can lead you to understand if they’re more intellectual, than that’s likely going to mean that they’re more motivated by power.

If they’re more emotionally genius or more emotionally lead, then they will likely lean towards affiliation as their motivation. Likewise, if they’re a physical person, it’s going to be more achievement based.

Towards or Away: What Direction Are Your Customers Moving?

You’ll find that in general your customers are likely either moving towards gaining more power, more control, and/or more influence over their lives and their situations or they’re protecting against the loss of that power.

Either your customers are seeking more and more affiliation and belonging with larger and larger groups or they’re protecting against the loss of that affiliation.

There’s a towards and away. Either your customers are more heavily motivated by a towards orientation or away.

Think, for a moment, about your target customer (pick the customer of yours that is the easiest for you to sell) and ask yourself,

“Is your customer looking more for power, affiliation, or achievement?”

How would knowing this change how you communicate and engage with them? How would you launch your products? Write your sales pages? Market your business to ensure that you are touching on these desires?

One of the benefits of an in-person sales conversation is in that value stage, when you’re asking them to paint the picture of what they have now, after they’ve bought your service or product and they benefited from it and it’s worked better than they could imagine it worked, you can determine how the are motivated.

And once you know how they are motivated, you can ask, “What will having that do for you? Let’s say you can make all the money you want. What will having that do for you?”

It wouldn’t surprise me if you get some answer like,“Then my wife will really be proud of me.”

That’s really the power of having an in-person conversation. You can’t really ask in an online survey about those types of desires and motivators, but when you’re with a person one-on-one,you can really feel out their emotional landscape.

Often the more successful people are more in a space of protecting. You tell a successful person, “We’re going to help you make millions of dollars, more money.” They’re like,“No, no, no. I figured out that game. What I want to do is protect what I’ve created and make sure that my competition doesn’t come in and steal my customers.”

Avoidance As A Powerful Motivator

It’s well documented that “away” motivations are twice as powerful as toward motivations in terms of motivating actual behavior. Not what people report as motivating, but what people actually do, what actually motivates them to take action.

We want to think that our customers are signing up with us because they want to attain something. But if you just ask them what might you avoid if this were to go really well? See what happens to their emotional answer. Do they get really animated? Is it emotionally more intense for them or do they not care? You might surprise yourself.

Some of the things that come out of their mouth when you ask them what they’re going to avoid will end up being the real reason why they’ve actually bought or would buy your product or service.

Once you clearly understand what really entices your customers to buy (or take any particular action), you can incorporate those motivators in your sales copy, websites, social media posts, and all of your marketing materials.


Image Credit: Rainbow Sunset by Android Jones
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