Discovering the Dominant Buying Motive

Robert Terson

Perhaps the greatest mistake salespeople make is this: they meet a prospect and they’re in such a hurry to make a sale that they instantly dive into a presentation of their product or service, detailing every feature and benefit to the Nth degree. They do this without first taking the time to get to know the prospect, ask the necessary questions to ascertain what’s at the heart of the matter, what’s the prospect’s Dominant Buying Motive. To better understand this pathetic sales phenomenon that’s all too typical, visualize a car salesman greeting a potential customer who’s been admiring a Lexus RX350 SUV in the showroom.

“She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?” he says to open the conversation. And then he quickly follows with a long list of the automobile’s features and benefits, extolling its virtues. He doesn’t even know if this customer really has been thinking of an SUV; for all he knows, the man could have been looking at the vehicle on a whim, comparing it to the sedan he’s been contemplating. No matter, the salesman is going to tell him all about the vehicle anyway. Isn’t that what salespeople do—sell what the prospect seems interested in?

Sure, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to first find out what the prospect is definitely interested in? What’s on his mind and why? For example, our salesman could have opened the conversation with, “The RX is our most popular SUV; have you been thinking about an SUV?” He could go on to ask what is the man driving now? Wouldn’t that be a good piece of information to work with? He also might want to ask is the new vehicle for the man himself or his wife? (Women drive Nine out of ten RXs; Lexus salespeople refer to the RX as the “chickmobile.” I discovered that tidbit of information one day when Nicki was test-driving the LS460 sedan and the RX350. The salesman said to me, “She’ll pick the RX.” He said this with all the assurance of a seer, and then backed his prediction with an array of statistics. I broke up when he used the term “chickmobile.” He turned out to be right, of course.)

The questions I’ve proffered in the above paragraph are the obvious ones. The real pros dig much deeper than that with their interrogatives. They engage the prospect in a conversation that will elicit the Dominating Buying Motive of the prospect. Is the old vehicle on its last legs? Is ego the motivating force in this case—the buyer’s neighbor just purchased a shiny new car and the buyer has to keep up with the Joneses? Perhaps the real reason is the buyer has been dreaming of a Lexus product for years but deep down doesn’t think he can afford it. If the salesperson can discover that, he’ll know what he has to do to make the numbers work for the buyer. But if he never digs that information out of the buyer, it’s probably not going to happen.

The top-tier sales pros INTERVIEW their prospects! That comes first! They know that they’re working in the dark until they know the true what and why. And the only way to discover the true what and why is to engage in conversation and ask questions. They’re not afraid to do that and neither should you. You’re there to serve the customer, and the best way to do that is to ascertain the Dominating Buying Motive of the customer.

Do that, instead of typically diving in to a presentation of features and benefits, and watch your sales soar.


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