Learn Why They Buy to Learn How to Sell

by Jeffrey Gitomer


People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy.

The power of that statement is also the insight into the selling process. For the last 120 years, salespeople have been taught how to sell. And I say to you that is the least powerful way of completing a transaction.

Salespeople learn techniques. Salespeople learn “closes.” Salespeople learn systems of selling. And none of them are more powerful than someone wanting to buy.

In fact, all of them are useless if someone doesn’t want to buy or is afraid to buy or doesn’t like the person he or she is buying from.

Rather than selling, take a look at buying. Would you rather know how to sell, or would you rather know why people buy? Aha! Why people buy, of course. OK then, Mr. and Ms. Sales-maven, why are you still trying to master HOW TO SELL?

You can argue that relationship building, questioning skills, networking, and presentation skills are all part of the “selling process,” and I agree. But I stand firm that buying motives are a million times more powerful than selling skills.

Let me help you with buying motives for a moment. A buying motive may have to do with how much money I have. Or it may be about how much of a risk I have to take to make the purchase. Or it might be about, “Will it work when I get it home?” Or it might be about, “Will this produce for me in my office environment?” Or it might be about, “Will this increase productivity in my factory?”

Think of your buying motives. Why do you buy? You decide that you need or want something. Then you justify the need or the want, and you literally search for it. You set out on a Saturday afternoon to spend money. You may go “shopping,” or you may go directly to the establishment that has what you want. Either way, your motive is clear-ownership as soon as possible. If your buying motive is strong enough, spouses, children, parents, and especially salespeople can’t keep you from getting what you want.

Oh sure, someone may steer you to a different model, or you may make a compromise. But whatever “it” is, by the end of the day, you’re going to make a heroic effort to own one. And buy the way, that need is defined as an emotion – it has nothing to do with logic. One of the primary motives for buying is an emotional one. And in the emotional state, people will overpay to get what they want.

People buy things for emotional reasons and justify the reasons by using logic. I define it as the head being attached to the price, and the heart being attached to the wallet. If I pull on the heartstring, the wallet will pop out of the back pocket, and the only thing that can stop it is logic.

Have you identified what moves your customer to a purchase? “But Jeffrey,” you whine, “how do you find out why they buy?” It’s really easy, credit card breath. You ask them why they buy. It never ceases to amaze me how complex selling situations become because they are sales-trainer-driven, rather than customer-driven.

For many of you, this is a brand new thought. And as with all brand new thoughts, there’s hesitancy based on a lack of experience or success. My two words of advice are: TRY IT.

Get six of your customers, take them to a buffet lunch and a small seminar to help them build their businesses. Then begin by asking them why they buy from you. I know it sounds simple. But it’s true. And the information you get will lead you to a lifetime of sales.

The important thing to understand is that the old way of selling, which ties persuasiveness to techniques, is nowhere near as powerful as the person with the motive who wants to buy. And your biggest job in sales is to uncover the motive, or lose to someone who has.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books, including “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling” and “The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude.” His real-world ideas and content are also available as online courses at For information about training and seminars visit or, or email Jeffrey personally at

© 2017 All Rights Reserved. Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from GitGo, LLC, Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.

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