The buying process is governed by more factors than price and solution capabilities. The customer’s psychology guides the process at every turn. It is the sales professional’s job to track those movements and address them proactively.
Some of the psychological factors driving the customer’s decision-making process include:
- Incidental Emotions
- Loss Aversion
- Decision Context
Here we look at these 3 factors in greater detail.
For more insights into the customer decision making process download Richardson’s eBook: The Science of Decision Making: Understanding the Psychology Behind Customer Decisions.
Research from the University of California and Duke University reveals how “emotions on decision making can live longer than the emotional experience itself.” This influence is sometimes referred to as the “incidental emotional state.” A strong emotion felt today can impact a decision made days or weeks later. The reason has to do with two factors: behavioral consistency and false consensus.
Behavioral consistency tells us that people tend to be consistent in their decision making. False consensus tells us that people often make the choice they believe others would make if they were in the same scenario. These two factors are a reminder that the customer’s buying decision is heavily influenced by events that predate the sales professional’s involvement.
In one of the most cited behavioral research papers in history, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman explains that “losses loom larger than gains.” He explains that “the aggravation that one experiences in losing a sum of money appear to be greater than the pleasure associated with gaining the same amount.” This finding is important to sales professionals because fear is a major influence in the decision process. This fear is especially evident in business purchases in which reputations are at stake.
Sales professionals must recognize this powerful influence and guide the decision process accordingly. To do so, they need to address the customer’s emotions. The customer needs assurance on more than measurable factors like price or ROI. They also need assurance that the outcome will cast them and their team in a favorable light.
The buying decision is only one of many responsibilities facing the customer. Their attention is divided across multiple short-term and long-term challenges. As the decision process becomes more complex and consists of more parts, it becomes easier for the customer to disengage. With so many factors surrounding the decision process, it is not surprising to learn that research shows that people rely more on the immediate context of the situation when making a choice and less on nuanced preferences, according to research from Columbia University.
The researchers learned that context drives decisions because context often dictates what is the easiest choice. For example, customers shopping in a store are most likely to buy the product that is at eye level rather than remains loyal to a single brand. Therefore, sales professionals must ensure their solution is at eye level — that is, they must make the value clear and easy to grasp.