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Why Do Customers Buy?

by David Brock on May 11th, 2021

Such a simple question, but too often, we don’t really understand the answer to this question because we focus on what we are selling.

Too often, we fail to understand why customers are buying. Often, it’s because we are getting involved very late in the customer buying process, they have made some decisions, conducted research, and are seeking answers to their questions. Rather than backtracking to understand why they buy, we answer their questions and move to closing them.

But until we understand why a customer is buying, we really don’t know how to best help them. We know they are probably overwhelmed with a lot of high quality information. We know they struggle to make sense this, that they are struggling to do make the right decision, to be able to have confidence they chose well.

Customers buy to get something done. They have jobs to do, they have work to get done. It may be addressing a problem, or an opportunity, or change, or simply getting things done more easily.

The context the customer uses in evaluating what to buy is the work they are trying to accomplish. Yet we seldom focus on those jobs to be done. We focus on the products/services we offer. The difference in context, while it may seem minor, this difference is critical. The customer focuses on what they have to get done, we focus on what our products and services do. These are very different and what causes such confusion and disconnect in the customer buying journey.

The customer develops their requirements in terms of the work they need to perform and how their success is measured. The work may be to improve productivity, improve performance, address a new opportunity. The work may be to eliminate a problem, to simplify operations, to reduce costs.

They evaluate what they buy in the context of how it helps them do the work. We must move from presenting what our product does, to how we help them do the work they need to get done, more effectively and efficiently. We need to measure our impact in terms of how it impacts the work they are doing and how they are measured.

We make buying and selling much simpler if we really understand why the customer is buying, what the work needs to be done, how the success of that work is evaluated.

It seems so obvious, but can you answer that question for each opportunity?

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