Skip to main content

Understanding Buying Motives: How to Sell More Effectively

Using a typical buyer’s motivations in your sales process will boost results. To get started, use this guide to learn what drives buying decisions and how to truly connect with customers.

Everyone has their own reason for buying things. Think about a large family purchasing a vehicle. They might want something spacious with enough comfortable seats for everyone. A sports car enthusiast, on the other hand, might be looking for a sleek design, powerful engine, and exceptional handling.

Why is this important? Understanding why people buy certain things makes all the difference in crafting the best marketing and sales strategy. With that knowledge, you can better match products to people’s needs and desires. This creates a more personalized shopping experience and increases your chance of landing more sales.  

Want to better understand the buying motives that influence these decisions? Here’s all you need to know about the driving force behind purchases.

What are buying motives?

Buying motives are the underlying reasons why people buy what they do and what propels them to make a purchase at that time. In some cases, these motives are deeply personal, driven by emotions, needs, desires, or social pressure. In others, they’re influenced by practical reasons, such as the product’s functionality or great price value.  

Consumers may be well aware of their buying motives or have reasons they cannot easily explain. These are known as conscious versus dormant buying motives. For example, picking a phone for its camera quality is a conscious decision. Liking a shoe brand because it subconsciously reminds you of good memories is a dormant buying motive.

Types of buying motives a sales professional needs to know

Buyer motives are typically split into several categories. Each one sheds light on why people choose to make specific purchases. So, to be a successful marketer or salesperson, you must know the following categories well.  

Rational buying motives

Logic and reasoning are at the core of rational buying motives. It’s all the practical things you might think about before purchasing something, like product features, price, and convenience. Sometimes, it all comes down to how well the product might solve a problem. To find this information, consumers may look at product web pages, read customer reviews, or have chats with salespeople.

Emotional buying motives

Emotional buying motives take consumers on a different buyer’s journey. It’s less about numbers and more about letting your feelings guide purchase decisions. The excitement of getting a new car, the comfort of slipping on a cozy hoodie, or the joy of savoring gourmet chocolate can all be powerful emotional motivators. Sometimes, it’s about fitting in with the crowd and gaining social approval.  

Product buying motives vs. patronage buying motives

Consumers also make choices based on product attributes and the overall customer experience. Known as product and patronage buying motives, these factors shape what people buy and where they shop.

Product buying motives are the distinct characteristics of each product being considered. Customers may weigh a product’s features, quality, and price against their needs and preferences to choose the best option.

Patronage buying motives revolve around the shopping experience and the customer’s relationship with the brand. Brand reputation, customer service quality, and how easy it is to navigate the website can all influence their choice of where to shop.  

Examples of buyer motives that impact purchasing decisions

Sales teams are likely to encounter many of these buyer motives while interacting with their customers:


People often buy things because they absolutely have to. It could be for basics like food and clothes or to fix something broken. Generally speaking, these purchases happen because something important needs attention.  


Pleasure-driven buying centers around making purchases that bring happiness or enjoyment. It’s all the items bought as a reward for hard work, to decrease stress levels, or to fill the day with joy. They’re not needed, but they enhance the quality of life.


Fear can push people to buy things that make them feel safe and secure. For instance, they might get flood insurance as a financial safety net or buy a vehicle with a better crash rating for safer travels. Customers feel driven to make these purchases to protect themselves from losses and other hardships. 


The fear of missing out (FOMO) can cause people to buy items they wouldn’t have otherwise. Seeing others get a great deal or enjoying something they don’t have can trigger this buying motive. By completing the purchase, they avoid getting left behind and maybe even feel like they fit in better with their peers.


The promise of financial gain is a compelling motivator for many customers. Sometimes, people feel driven to spend money to make money, especially in the B2B sales world. In other cases, it’s just about seizing the opportunity to save money on a product they may need or want.


Customers may choose to buy specific products or services to support their self-improvement efforts. For example, they might get quality exercise gear for their health or invest in online courses to learn new skills. Their hope of building a better future or otherwise reaching their personal growth goals motivates them to complete these purchases.


It’s pretty common for people to buy things out of routine or habit. They may buy the same products or services just because they always have. Or get familiar brands because they trust their quality and reliability. The convenience of routine and the comfort of sticking with what they know prevent them from considering other options.

Best ways to identify emotional and rational buying motives

Every sale is driven by a mixture of rational and emotional buying motives. Determining which is in play is crucial to creating a well-informed sales strategy. To do that effectively, use the 3 following tactics to identify what motivates each buyer to complete a purchase.

Use active listening skills when interacting with customers

One of the most underrated yet impactful sales skills is active listening. It goes beyond just hearing what your customers are saying to understanding their underlying concerns and sentiments. Honing this skill enables you to form deeper connections with clients and better tailor your sales approach. 

When you talk to customers, listen for clues about their motivations. For example, a person who passionately describes a past product experience is driven by emotional motives. Conversely, buyers asking about product features, specs, and warranty details are likely influenced by rational considerations.  

Observe buying behavior at each stage of the sales process

Your customers’ actions can serve as a window into their buying motives. When someone abandons their shopping cart, they might have rational concerns about pricing or shipping. In contrast, a quick purchase of a newly launched product could signal an emotional trigger like the desire to own the latest items.

Begin your observations by mapping the customer journey from initial awareness to the final purchase. Then, use website analytics tools, such as product page views, to track customer behaviors. Also, read online reviews for your brand and products. Carefully analyze the data to discover what motivates people to shop your brand and buy certain items.  

Gather buying motive data using surveys and focus groups 

Every now and then, it’s best to come right out and ask customers about their buying motivations. While direct conversations might not be possible for larger businesses, tools like surveys and focus groups offer a practical alternative. However, keep in mind that you’ll only tap into conscious motives with this method.

To set up your survey, write questions that touch upon both emotional and rational buying triggers. Then, use an online platform to design your survey and send it to your contacts. As for focus groups, invite customers to come to a meeting and share their insights. Have a skilled moderator guide the discussion and get meaningful feedback.

How to use buyer motivation to sell more effectively

With the insights from your research into customer motivations, you can select marketing and sales strategies to increase profits and improve customer loyalty. Ready to get started? Explore these 7 ways to use your buyer motive insights to sell more effectively. 

Craft compelling value propositions for your product or service

An understanding of buyer motives allows you to highlight what sets your brand and products apart with business value propositions. Also known as unique selling points, these statements can directly appeal to emotional and rational product buying motives.

To do that effectively, focus on the ways your products solve problems, simplify people’s lives, or provide unparalleled benefits. Create one-sentence versions of each value proposition for your website, social media channels, and paid ad copy. Keep each statement aligned with your customers’ main motivations to capture their interest and improve your sales efforts.  

Create content marketing strategies that engage and educate

Modern consumers are hungry for knowledge. They want brands to address their questions and concerns with in-depth articles, product demos, and how-to guides. The insights and solutions you offer help establish your brand as an authority on the topic while leveraging buyer motivations.

For customers motivated by a desire to get ahead of the latest trend, create content focused on industry trends and innovations. Those seeking reassurance will appreciate content featuring case studies, product testimonials, and brand reviews. By aligning your content strategy with buyer motives, you’re not just selling but also building trust in your brand. 

Highlight the emotional benefits of a particular product

Most products have both rational and emotional benefits. By focusing on the emotional side of the equation, you can leverage how your products make people feel. For example, if you sell beauty products, you’re also selling increased self-esteem and confidence. Or maybe you offer software whose value transcends its technical features by giving users a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind.

No matter what you offer, highlight your product benefits with real-life stories. Share what your products did for past customers and why they love your brand. Also, let your customers experience the emotional benefits for themselves with free samples.  

Leverage social proof to build trust in your brand

Offering social proof is a great way to leverage customers’ need for reassurance and belonging. When people see others vouching for your product, it instills confidence in your brand. It also signals to potential buyers that they’re not alone in their decision.

To make the biggest impact, don’t just use numbers like website traffic or sales figures to show how popular your brand is. Instead, share success stories, testimonials, and reviews that align with your customers’ most common buyer motivations. You can also collaborate with reputable influencers in your industry for organic product endorsements on social media.

Address objections proactively during the sales process

When you understand why people want to buy your products, you also know what might hold them back from completing the purchase. You can use that knowledge to address their doubts and concerns during the sales process. This proactive approach lets you highlight how your products align with the buyer’s motivation, effectively removing barriers to purchase.

Addressing customer objections might involve clarifying product features or offering solutions to compatibility issues. It could also mean overcoming brand reputation concerns by appealing to rational patronage buying motives with certifications and awards. This process will likely vary from customer to customer, so be prepared to customize your responses each time.

Use flash sales to trigger FOMO and create a sense of urgency

Flash sales motivate people to buy from your brand by triggering FOMO and creating a sense of urgency. Upon seeing unexpected discounts, your customers will undoubtedly want to enjoy the exclusive sales opportunities on popular products. This results in impulse buys based on emotional product buying motives.

To employ this strategy, plan limited-time offers quarterly or less often. You don’t want to overdo it, or the sales won’t seem special enough to drive interest. When you run your sales, strategically use sneak peeks, countdown timers, and exit intent pop-ups to build excitement and encourage prompt action. Also, consider setting up limited quantity sales to intensify the urgency.

Offer a positive shopping experience online and in-store

Offering a positive shopping experience, whether online or in-store, strongly aligns with the emotional patronage buying motives. Today’s customers want more than just products and services. They crave predictable, highly enjoyable interactions with their favorite brands.

On the web, this translates to user-friendly websites with personalized recommendations. At the store, it might mean creating a welcoming ambiance that encourages customers to browse at their leisure. Quality customer service, loyalty programs, and seamless transitions between online and in-store shopping make for an even more positive experience.

Tap into buyer motivation and get more sales

Understanding buyer motivation is key to unlocking your full sales potential. By gaining insight into what drives buyers, it’s possible to build effective sales strategies that genuinely connect and convert. So, seize the competitive edge and turn potential buyers into loyal customers by tapping into their motivations. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Share This Article