This post was contributed by Marjorie Hajim, SEO Manager for EMEA at RingCentral.
What motivates people to make a purchase? Why do people pick one product over another? Is it simply a case of needing/wanting something, and then selecting the best deal? Or is there more to it than that?
In truth, buyer motivation is complex, particularly when it comes to B2B (business to business) customers. We don’t want to annoy each potential customer by asking them why they’re considering our product—better to intrinsically appeal to their motivations from the beginning, and nurture them along their buying journey with these motivations in mind.
What Is Buyer Motivation?
Buyer motivation refers to the driving psychological factors behind a purchase. From the initial motivator to the eventual selection of a particular product, their journey is driven by a combination of conscious and subconscious motivators.
If your marketing and sales team is aware of these key underlying motivations, they can adapt their selling strategy to appeal to them specifically, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
Emotional vs rational motivation
There are two main classifications that buyer motives fall into: emotional and rational.
Emotional motivations are driven by the need for personal satisfaction—for example, buying a product to reduce anxiety or because it makes you feel attractive. Emotional motivations often result in impulsive purchases and are generally attributed to B2C (business to consumer) customers, although they can occasionally be a factor in B2B sales.
Rational motivations are driven by logic and reasoning. The decision to purchase will take longer as the customer weighs up their options and risks. Most B2B purchases fall into this category—and Gartner found that 45% of a B2B customer’s buying cycle was spent doing independent research over one to three months.
Before diving into specific buyer motivations, it’s important to understand the journey the buyer takes before making an eventual purchase, and how this interrelates to their motivations.
Simply put, the buyer’s journey refers to the stages that buyers go through from the second they realize they have a problem, want, or need. Your goal as a business is to nurture the buyer through each stage of their journey.
These stages in the buyer’s journey can generally be condensed into three core stages.
Awareness: This is where the customer recognizes they require a certain product, and where they are first made aware of your brand, usually through a Google search, social media, or any type of advertisement or endorsement.
Consideration: Customers will then shop around for a suitable product, reading reviews, analyzing specs, and comparing prices for evaluation. As a business, your goal is to keep your product at the forefront of the customer’s mind, appealing to their initial motivation while also potentially creating new motivations.
Decision: Once the customer has finished researching, they will make an informed decision and commit to a purchase.
While their journey is fairly similar, B2B and B2C buyer journeys have several differences that subtly highlight the distinct psychological processes and motivations when it comes to purchasing, as highlighted below.
Source: Accelerate Writer
Motivations can fluctuate as the buyer moves along their journey and discovers new possibilities through their research. Knowing which stage your buyer is on allows you to nurture them along this process. You can utilize eCommerce marketing automation tools to identify where your customer is in the buying cycle and nurture the lead accordingly.
There are many reasons why a buyer might decide to make a purchase. For B2C customers, emotional motives can provoke a purchase, from self-improvement and health to prestige, vanity, and luxury. However, when it comes to B2B customers, motives are usually much less emotional.
Here are some highly common buyer motivations that you should be aware of.
This is often the most immediate buyer motivation for B2B and B2C prospects. They might discover they’ve run out of a basic essential, or they’ve run into a problem that needs solving. The prospect will then look for a product that best fits this need.
However, you don’t always have to wait until a customer realizes that they need something. Businesses often inspire needs by making a prospect aware of a problem that their product—and their product, specifically—can solve. By highlighting a prospect’s pain points in this way, you can create a sense of urgency that motivates action.
Fear is a common buying motivator and a powerful catalyst for action. It’s why your parents spent hundreds on a web-based application to store their sensitive data.
For businesses, fear of theft and trespassing is natural, and buying a security system would be a priority. B2B companies, like a commercial alarm system business, can capitalize on this fear by positioning their product or service as crucial to safety and security.
Acceptance/fear of missing out (FOMO)
FOMO differs from general fear in that it is more of an emotional motive than a rational one—customers buy because they don’t want to miss out on the ‘next big thing’. Human nature’s inherent need to follow the crowd can be a buying motivator in itself.
In the business-to-business world, it is often big-name brands like Chubb and Carenet who capitalize on the fear of missing out, often with products that are deemed to be technological innovations. If businesses see their competitors implementing new technology and products into their strategy, they’ll want to get on the trend too, especially if the business is a voice of authority.
Financial gain is a strong buying motivator for B2B customers, with the end-goal for most businesses being to increase their return on investment (ROI). Emphasize to customers how your product or service can reduce loss, and back up your claims with real results—credibility and reliability play a vital role in the decision-making process.
Other types of gains can also be B2B buyer motives, although they still interrelate to financial profit or loss reduction. For example, a business might invest in an IVR system or other marketing automation tools to improve employee productivity and efficiency.
Many complexities govern buyer motivations, and this list is in no way exhaustive—take a look at these 40 “elements of value” gathered by Bain & Company:
The full-size image and interactive infographic can be found here.
How To Determine Buyer Motivations
Use call-tracking software
If you make a lot of cold or warm calls or receive calls from prospects, utilizing call-tracking software can help you gather details you might miss during the call, such as geographical location, device type, and the marketing interaction that generated the call, enabling quicker customer insights and better customer profiles.
Perform competitive analysis
Competitive analysis has become a staple in any comprehensive marketing strategy. Seeing how your competitors market and price their products gives you valuable insight into the buying motives of your own target audience. You don’t have to manually scour your competitor’s websites —robotic process automation (RPA) can train ‘bots’ to search and gather the data you need.
Answer questions before they’re asked
Don’t wait for your customer to ask all of the questions, especially if you’re the one who is reaching out to them. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself what it is that you would want to know about your product.
What problem does your product solve? How is it different from your competitor’s product? Implementing these answers into your emails and cold-calling scripts is a great way to generate initial interest and appeal to certain motives.
Take note of customer support questions
The questions customers ask can reveal their motivations. Whether you provide customer support via social media, email, chatbot, or telephone, it pays to make sure that your customer service team is working collaboratively to track recurring questions for insight into potential motivations.
Use a CRM for customer data tracking and segmentation
The CRM compiles customer data across systems, making collecting, tracking, and analyzing your existing and potential customers easier. Your CRM system can also automate many customer-related business processes, boosting productivity, consistency, and provide insights to help you make the right decisions regarding your customers.
Since partner and customer relationships are important to B2B businesses, a B2B-focused CRM should offer you powerful contact management tools that accommodate complex account structures, roles, and sales workflows. And in B2B, flexibility is the name of the game. Your CRM should offer flexible customer segmentation, reporting and integration options.
Other Things That Affect/Trigger Buyer Motivation
If you want customers to notice and take a chance on your products, offering discounts is a sure way to do that. Discount can also unlock value for your audience that surpasses price, helping you build a loyal customer base. Discounts or coupons can also be a driving motivator in a decision between different company’s products.
Highlighting your unique selling proposition
Is your HVAC company the most energy-efficient on the market? Are your state-of-the-art blood pressure machines worth bragging about on a weekly conference call? A strong USP can motivate a prospect to want to buy from you specifically.
Accurate Delivery Times and Predictable Delivery Costs
Shipping and return policies can have a significant effect on a buyer’s motivation to pick you over another brand, particularly if they are struggling to make a decision based on quality alone.
Integration with delivery companies and real-time delivery statuses can set you apart from other companies.
Focusing on digital advertising
Of course, emotional and rational advertising still has the power to influence buyer motives by triggering wants and needs. Images and videos are particularly engaging and boast high conversion rates, which is why social media has become a great advertising tool.
B2B buyers might be more rational, but they’re still human and will respond to smart, emotional-driven advertising. Using a YouTube video maker to produce high-quality videos can significantly increase engagement and sales.
Personalizing the user experience
Businesses have unique budgets, decision-makers, and ways of buying something. Every party involved in a purchase needs the right information (at the right time) to make their job easy and hassle-free. But supporting your customers’ corporate structures and user roles is not enough—buyers will expect intuitive, friction-free self-service experience to create, modify, and track their orders.
If you use B2B eCommerce software to facilitate purchases, your platform must allow you to personalize product catalogs, prices, and ordering workflows according to every buyer.
Identifying your customer’s buying motives might at times feel assumptive and elusive, especially if you’re just starting out. However, recognizing your customer’s motives helps you to determine not only who to market your product to, but how to market it to them. With this knowledge in mind, you can make data-driven marketing decisions to successfully attract customers and encourage them along the buying cycle.