How Your Buyers Make Their Decisions – Part 1

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Decisions, decisions….ah, there’s a dilemma inside every choice for everyone!

People choosing wayThe way decisions are made can tell you a lot about the personality of a person. The reason for this is that everyone has a short-cut to how they view the world. Their view is through their particular ‘spectacles’…how they see things always matches their beliefs about how things should be and how the world revolves around them. If you can identify their view, you can influence how that perspective is portrayed in the conversation.

People’s decision-making criteria will always give away a lot of information, as they help you understand their beliefs, values and behaviours.
Buyers make decisions based on a series of criteria that makes sense to them. So if you can identify their view, you can determine how best to help them buy your solutions.

One criteria they use to decide is known as ‘Towards-Away From’

Everyone has their ‘comfort-zone’, a situation where they feel happy or content with the status quo position. When that position is disturbed, they experience pain or discomfort, wither physically, emotionally or metaphorically. Examples of this would be when companies start losing market share, employees, profits or productivity. This causes stress or discomfort, it moves them away from their comfort zone and they face pain that that need to ‘move away from’.

On other occasions, buyers feel they have opportunities or benefits that they could chase or aim towards. Examples would be where they see chances to increase market share, go for higher profits or improve productivity.

So you can use this lens to look at the drivers of change in the mind of the buyer. Do they make decisions based on moving away from their current position, or moving toward a new position. How do you know which is which?

By simply asking specific questions. If you asked, “What makes you want to choose a different supplier?” and they answered, “To get better service so we can give better quality to our customers”, then this buyer is moving towards opportunities for them to improve their situation.

You can therefore discuss how you can ‘improve, get moving on, gain, establish’ and similar words that help people to move towards their goals, objectives and targets.

They make decisions based on moving towards a goal, so your work should help them achieve those objectives.

If they answered “To stop losing money”, they are looking to move away from the pain of loss. Here, your words should revolve around ‘getting away from, diverting, stop‘ and similar words.

These people make decisions to get away from the pain or discomfort of their current situation.

Do people always make decisions in the same way? No, they are situation-specific and context-oriented. This is why you need to listen carefully to how the prospect answers your questions and be aware of how this decides the criteria they use to make decisions.

In part 2, we look at the Frames of Reference buyers use to make decisions.

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of JS Creationzs at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 17 September, 2013

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