What do clients buy?

We tend to forget, but clients don’t like buying products: they like buying what the products or services represent, “what the products do” for them. As Theodore Levitt, the great thinker in the field of marketing, once said, “People don’t want to buy drills, they want holes”.

To convince clients to buy their product, effective salespeople must pay attention and identify what that product truly means for the buyer. People don’t buy windows or doors, but solutions to their problems; they buy the means by which to meet their needs.

The salesperson therefore must focus on the client, and pose questions of the following kind:

– What are your plans for your home?
– If you had a magic wand, how would you change your old windows and doors?
– What do you expect from your new windows: silence in the rooms, lower heating bills?
– In the condominium complex where you live, are there aesthetic constraints on windows?
– What would convince you to choose our windows and doors over those of our competitors?

Each sale event features a major advantage the client is seeking. Before deciding to buy, the client must be convinced he or she will achieve this advantage, otherwise his or her money would be wasted.
Which advantage could this be?

Following are some forces that influence clients when buying:

  • Basic needs. A person buys things to achieve what Maslow describes in his theory and that are the foundation of that person’s hierarchy of consumption priorities, such as food and shelter.
  • Availability. The client needs a product now and follows the easiest route, namely he or she gives priority to the easiest or to the fastest choice.
  • Replacement. Sometimes a person buys something to replace older products, such as in the case of very old windows.
  • Emotional void. Sometimes people buy something in the attempt to replace things they cannot have or will never have.
  • Lower prices. Something previously identified as a need, which is being sold at a lowered price.
  • Great value. When the perceived value of a product is significantly higher than its price. Even when the need is not too strong, one doesn’t let the opportunity go by.
  • Branding (importance of brand). When the product being bought belongs to a not too familiar category, the well-known brand plays a significant role.
  • Innovation. Most of us desire the most recent version of a given product. This happens when someone imitates one’s favourite celebrity (hence the importance of choosing a testimonial).
  • Self-gratification. Sometimes people buy something to impress, to attract someone or to possess something that is larger and better that that of others; to feel they are experts, enthusiasts, or to meet a social status standard, often more than what one can realistically afford.
  • Empathy. Sometimes people buy from given salespersons because the latter have listened to them and paid attention to them, even when there is a cheaper alternative.
  • Indulgence. Who doesn’t deserve a bit of luxury, from time to time?

These are the things that a good salesperson brings the client to think.

Source: freely taken from “Vendere serramenti con successo” (Selling windows and doors successfully) by Vladimiro Barocco, Edizioni StudioCentro Marketing, pages 38-46