How Buyers Think – Overcoming Emotional ROI

Developing Buyer Empathy – Buying Is Hard
Learn to see the world through your buyers’ eyes and understand what’s influencing their actions and decisions.

It’s no surprise that buyers may see things differently than you do. There wouldn’t be anything to negotiate if those on both sides of the table saw everything the same way. To explore this idea more specifically, think about the last sale you lost. Did you lose the deal because the price was too high? Was it the lack of differentiation from competitors? Was your sales presentation poor? What was it exactly? Do you think this reason aligns with your prospect’s reasons for not choosing you? It seems to me that the following Gartner graphic shows the stark difference between why buyers disqualify vendors and what vendors think is driving their disqualification.

For example, vendors consider “prices are not in line with expectations” to be the reason its organization is disqualified 51% of the time, while buyers consider it to be a reason to disqualify a technology provider only 35% of the time (Gartner, August 2018). In contrast, this graphic shows that buyers put a much higher priority on peer reviews or opinions than vendors expect.

Emotional ROI

A traditional way to look at what buyers want is what I call the five P’s:

1. Profit (“Think of what I can buy with the money I’ll make.”)

2. Prestige (“When everyone applauds my promotion at the awards event, I’ll know I’ve achieved a milestone.”)

3. Pleasure (“This will make my life easier.”)

4. Preservation (“I’m definitely going to keep my job secure with this.”)

5. Pain relief (“The #*$&@ user interface is so frustrating; with this new UI, our whole team will love using the CRM again.”)

What’s interesting is that when most of us try to explain a logical, rational ROI to the customer, it is often at the bottom of their list of their real reasons to buy. Of course, what you’re selling has to meet their budget requirements, and they have to believe it will help them move toward their business goals more effectively in one way or another.

What they care most about, however, is what I call the Emotional return on investment, or Emotional ROI. Offering Emotional ROI means that whatever emotional benefits your buyers are going to get out of the purchase will eventually outweigh the emotional risks present when making the purchase in the first place.

What emotional risks are at play in B2B buying? Here are just a few:

Predictability and Stability

Prospects put their sense of peace and stability at risk every time they consider implementing a new solution or product. The pain we know is often easier to live with than the unknown. Even if a buyer’s future looks less than ideal with their current solution (or lack thereof), at least they’re used to the situation and have learned to survive. We may be able to offer them something better, but inevitably there is unpredictability and instability that come along with new solutions.

Peer Reputation

When a prospect endorses and promotes a particular solution to their peers, they are putting their reputation on the line. If the purchase and implementation go well and business results follow, their reputation grows immensely. Conversely, if the buying or implementation process is rocky or the solution fails to produce the desired results, the prospect runs the risk of losing the confidence of their peers.

This carries over into relationships with leadership as well. If peer reputation takes a hit when a purchase goes awry, it’s possible that your buyer’s reputation with their manager will take an even bigger hit. They may be hoping for a promotion, which could be put at risk because they are considering your solution. In short, they may be risking a hit to their definition of success.

Workload and current projects

By adding yet another project to their plate, buyers are putting other projects they already have in progress at risk. If the purchasing process and implementation take too much time, they may not be able to execute effectively on other parts of their job, adding stress and other negative consequences.

Work-life balance

Our relationships, hobbies, and other interests have a dramatic impact on our happiness. Your prospects may be thinking that the 40 hours they’ll need to spend implementing your solution will mean 10 less hours with their kids at home or with some other relationship. This is a balance that many buyers aren’t willing to trade in exchange for attempting to realize the promised benefits of your solution.

For your prospect to believe in the Emotional ROI of your solution, they need to believe that their reputation will grow, that it will make them more upwardly mobile, that it won’t put current projects at risk, and that it will, at the very least, not hurt their outside relation- ships or interests. Whether it is the Emotional ROI or the personal connection, they will ultimately make the purchase decision based on emotional factors.

See the World Through Your Buyer’s Eyes

At the core of every buyer is an emotional being who won’t decide to make the purchase that you want unless the emotions they care about are satisfied. By either management dictate or by preference, they are going to try to involve others in the decision, leading to larger groups and longer buying cycles.

As a salesperson, it is your responsibility to see the world through your buyers’ eyes and understand the dynamics that are influencing their actions and decisions.

For the full manual on buyer enablement, check out the book I wrote, Selling is Hard. Buying is Harder.

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