The One Factor That Drives Most Buying Decisions

A friend of mine recently had the need to change his company car. There was a massive choice for him in the price range that he had been given, so he had to narrow the choice down using a series of questions. Based on his chosen criteria, he judged which would be the best car for him to go for.

Having made the choice of car, he then had to decide which leasing agency he would go to. The internet threw up around nine sites that enticed him towards their special deals. He thought the choice would be easy; it proved to be anything but!

In discussions with me, my friend said he wished he knew which agency would be the best for him to go with. Prices were more or less equal for the car he had chosen, but the actual agency choice was proving far more difficult.

I asked him what would make him decide in the end. He said it would be the one that made him feel most confident. How would he know? By the quality of the website, the ease of contacting the company, the amount of information available and the trust that he felt in their back-up services.

I then asked him to sum up in one sentence what would make him choose a specific agency. He said ‘the one that offers the least risk!”

This got me thinking. When buyers make decisions to buy, they have obviously covered a lot of ground before they make that choice. The word decision comes from the Latin word meaning “to cut off from”. In other words, when a decision is made, you ‘cut off from’ any other alternative. Your choice is final. You have decided.

(By the way, if you make a decision and then regret it, or have buyer’s remorse, you haven’t really made the decision, because you haven’t cut off from all other alternatives…you still are un-decided.)

So, one of the factors that influence decision-making in most buyers’ minds is the aspect of risk-reduction.

In many ways this is more important than the costs of solutions. For example, would you always buy the cheapest product available? Most of you would say no. Why? Because you appreciate that along with cheap price comes a sacrifice of quality.

Cheap doesn’t always equate to good value. There comes a point where the price line on the graph and the quality line cross over; the lowering of price always has a detrimental affect on how you perceive the product or service.

A lower price for most people may mean a saving in some respects. But it also opens the door to questions that would cause concern or anxiety in the buyer’s mind. Questions like;

‘Will this product really do what it says it will do? What happens if it breaks down? Have I got confidence that it will perform in the way the brochure said it would?’

These legitimate questions are the result of the risk you are taking by buying cheap. Most people would rather pay a little bit more to negate the risks they would be taking by buying too cheaply.

My friend decided to go with the agency that gave him the most confidence and the least risk. By making that choice, it made him feel less anxious about the whole buying experience. He chose on the basis of what would make him feel good in the long-term. I called him before writing this piece and he said the car had been delivered on time, in perfect condition and with the minimum of fuss. He feels he made the right decision.

Think of your customers and how they make decisions. How could you minimise or eliminate the risks involved in making buying-decisions? If you can answer that question, you open up many more opportunities to help customers achieve the results they want and need.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

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When Your Customer Won’t Make a Decision

Customers often use delaying tactics and techniques for many reasons. In fact Doug Hall, in his book “Jump Start Your Marketing Brain” cites research studies that have identified over 80 reasons why customers delay making a decision.

Interestingly, those delays can be amalgamated into five key reasons. Now, it’s not about forcing customers to make decisions (both you and they may regret that later). But if you identify the main reason, it may be that you can take action to encourage prospects to make the right decision today.

Here are the reasons Hall came up with:

  • Too busy to devote time evaluating the options
  • Too much pressure during the buying process
  • Fear of making a bad or wrong decision
  • Lack of information
  • Pricing concerns

Firstly, Too busy to devote time to evaluating options. People make time for what is important, so concentrate on the benefits they’ll get from making the decision now. Maybe they’ll lose money if they don’t choose today, or they’ll lose out on some other benefit that may come their way.

Next, it’s too much pressure during the buying process. You need to make the process easier and more pleasurable. Make the whole process more user friendly. Eliminate as many steps as possible, so the customer has an easy time saying yes. Maybe there’s a way you can reduce the steps or offer help through the process. Most prospects will appreciate this help and accept your recommendations.

Fear of making a bad or wrong decision. Demonstrate your credibility. Show them testimonials from customers who have been in the same position as they are. Introduce them to your customer care department. Provide warranties and guarantees that will make the prospect feel more secure. A free trial may alleviate worries and concerns.

Lack of Information. Provide comparisons of the products in your line, and how your products compare to the competition. Encourage the customer to describe their wants and needs early in the process, so that you can explain how you solve their problems. Be aware that some people will want more information than you might have expected in order for them to feel secure.

Pricing concerns. Many prospects want to make sure they are getting the best deal possible, and will delay if they feel they could get a better deal elsewhere. If you do your homework, as above, you will be able to assist them in determining the best pricing structure and value proposition in the market place and come to the right decision. If they are concerned about possible pricing drops, offer a 30 or 60-day pricing guarantee, where if the price drops within that time, they get the benefit of a credit or price adjustment.

Be aware of these five main reasons why customers won’t make a decision, and use your skills to reduce or eliminate them. You will give your customer the confidence to make the decision sooner rather than later, or not at all.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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