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Uncovering your own secret of selling: why you buy!

Think about your most recent purchases. They hold the secrets to increasing your sales. Last week, during a seminar, I was in a stream of consciousness talking about buying motives and why people buy. As usual, I was focused on the customer side — the probable purchaser side — the buyer side of the equation. Then out of the blue I said, “Think of something you just purchased. Why did you buy it?”

All of a sudden, a one-million-watt lightbulb went off inside my head — one of those instantaneous “AHA messages.” I discovered an answer, and it’s an answer that everyone can understand. If you list the last 10 things you purchased, you will discover the motives behind your own buying decisions, and at the same time, you will discover the formula for why others buy. Those “others” are your prospects, your potential customers.

When you list the 10 items, do it on a spreadsheet. In the second column, put down whether you “needed” or “wanted” what you bought. In the third column, put down whether you could afford it or went over budget and had to charge it. In the fourth column, put down how you purchased. Did you seek them out, did they come to you, or did you buy online? If you bought online, you might want to enter what time of day you made your purchase. It’s interesting to note that a high percentage of online sales are made after 8 p.m.

In the fifth column, assuming a salesperson helped you, put down whether or not you liked the salesperson. In the sixth column, with one indicating the lowest and 100 indicating the highest, put down the percentage of influence the salesperson had in completing the sale.

In the seventh column, using percentage again (one as the lowest, 100 as the highest), what was the risk factor in making the purchase? In other words, how much did you fear the purchase? How much did you fear you were making the right purchase before you bought? Usually, the bigger the purchase (home, car), the more people hesitate.

In the eighth column, put down the word “price” or “value.” If you went for price only, put price. If you went for value (the best), then put value. There’s a caution here: use the word price if you went for the lowest price in the category, not the lowest price for the item. In other words, if you bought a BMW you didn’t buy price, you bought value, regardless of where you bought it.

In the ninth column, using percentage again (one the lowest, 100 the highest), rate the experience. One percent means: “I’ll never come back.” One hundred percent means: “I’ll be back, buy again, and tell my friends.”

Then in the final column, include a sentence or two about how the purchase happened. The story. (If it takes three sentences, include three.) But write enough so you understand why you purchased the item, and what caused you to make the purchase from that specific company for that specific product or service.

Now you have enough criteria to identify your own motives. Pretty simple so far, huh? Let’s take it a little deeper. When you finished buying, were you happy? Did you find yourself saying it was OK, but? It’s important that you note the buts. The buts are the obstacles to your sales.

Now let’s go all the way to the bottom of the ocean. Compare the way you buy to the way you sell. How harmonious are they? How compatible are they? Are you throwing up the same barriers as the people you bought from? Are you missing the same nuances in your selling process that caused you to buy?

And now it’s time for the ultimate question: Would you buy from yourself? Unfortunately, the ultimate answer is “probably not.” The reason? You haven’t modified your selling process to harmonize with the way people buy.

But — there is a hidden treasure. Whenever you go down to the bottom of the ocean, the object is to find the hidden treasure. The hidden treasure will be revealed when you read (or re-read) “Acres of Diamonds” by Russell H. Conwell. All the sales answers you need are buried in your own backyard. You already possess the treasure. You just haven’t used it yet.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail


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