How to Close Sales: What Really Makes Buyers Buy

  From building a buyer profile to engaging customers, learn how to seal the deal with customers.


I’m Steve Davis and I’m going to talk about building your buyer profile.

Who is your buyer? Whether you’re talking about consumer products or you’re talking about selling a hundred-thousand-dollar product to corporations, you need to know who the buyers you’re going to be addressing are and what their needs are going to be.

Building a Buyer Profile

From the consumer standpoint you need to know some basic things: gender, age, etc. Corporations not so much from that standpoint but there are other things that you need to know. You need to know what’s the main motivator for buying.

People buy on emotion, but they justify it with statistics and logic.

The three basic emotions that people use to justify a purchase, in this order are: pain – if somebody has a pain, they will do whatever they need to, pay whatever they have to to get rid of that pain; the second basic emotion is fear of pain – whole industries have been developed for fear of something happening, the antivirus industry, anti-malware industry, the backup industry, fear of losing your data on your computers, all because people are afraid of losing that valuable data or losing access to their computers; the third is gain – what can I gain? And that could be money, love, power, a spouse – doesn’t really matter. But you need to understand what the main motivators are.

So pain, fear of pain, and gain.

Related: Sales Presentations: Adapt to Your Customers’ Needs

Determine Buyer Concerns

You also have to know what your buyers care about. You may have a whole myriad of features, but they’re only going to be really focused on one or two that are going to resonate with them.

When companies set up and meet customers for the first time, they immediately go into their pitch. That’s a big problem because they’re talking about a lot of features and a lot of functionality, but the buyers are only really interested in one or two.

What’s going to happen with the buyers is they’re going to think ‘well maybe this is too much for me, maybe I should look for something specific to solve the one or two issues that I want’. You want to start asking questions right away. You ask enough questions, get them talking long enough, they’ll tell you how to sell to them.

Customize Your Pitch

So you need to figure out what they care about and if that tells you how to sell to them, then you can take your pitch and customize it to what is important to them.

Where do you find them? How do they make decisions? Where do they get their information? It’s going to be different from market segment to market segment. You need to understand that if you are advertising in a certain magazine but the buyers aren’t reading that magazine, you’ve wasted a whole lot of money, time, and effort in getting that message to the wrong market segment.

Related: Entrepreneurs Need to Be Salespeople

Buyer Engagement

How do they want to engage and buy?

If you want to sell to me, or better yet let’s start with my father. If you wanted to get to him, you had to advertise on television, you had to be in newspapers with ads, he read newspapers every day. I used to read four or five newspapers daily, but I hardly ever read newspapers anymore, it’s all online with me.

If you want to get to my daughter, you have to go for mobile. She doesn’t even go to websites anymore for news, it’s all mobile for her.

So you have to know how the buyers want to be engaged and how they want to buy. This is going to tell you which distribution channel you need to be in. If you have a consumer product does retail make sense? If you’re dealing with me, you need to be online because I hate going shopping, I don’t go into stores.

Related: How to Choose the Right Advertising Media

Who is the Decision Maker?

If you’re dealing with corporations, you need to know who’s involved in the purchase decision.

In a corporate sale, on average, I think a McKinsey study said 7.4 people are involved in the purchase decision in any corporation. So you need to understand that. Ask that question upfront when you meet the buyer for the first time.

Not only ask if they have budget, but who’s involved in the purchase decision, so you can start cultivating the other people that are going to be involved early on. If you can do that successfully, you can reduce your sales cycle, and actually close more sales.

What is Your Minimum Viable Product?

Most companies overdesign their product, and it takes them too long to get into their market.  You need to be out there to begin with!

You know, you have a great business plan. Steve Blank from from the 500 Startups has a great quote, “your business plan is absolutely perfect, until the first time you talk to a customer”. So the key is getting a minimum viable product out there to start getting some customer feedback to tell you if you’re right.

Another great quote that I use a lot is from Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn. His quote is “if you’re not embarrassed by your first product, you’ve waited too long”. And the whole purpose is you’ve got to get out there and start getting some feedback. If you looked at some of the online sites and the way they first came out with products, and then looked at them today, you’d wonder how they ever got so big…

They got out there, they got people using their minimum viable products, and they got immediate and valuable feedback.

Sales Cycles Should Reflect the Buyer’s Interest

The other thing is, most companies, when developing the buyer profile, develop the sales cycle. Most sales cycles are wrong. Studies show that 85 percent of all sales cycles are not in sync with the buyer. That’s because that is done incorrectly.

Most sales cycles are generated by the company looking out. You need to look at it from the customer’s standpoint – what is the buyer going to go through, what is their journey going to be before they make the purchase decision. They’re going to have their own gates that they’re going to go through.

Once you understand that,  you can develop your sales cycle to overlay onto the buyer cycle. And now you can generate materials that buyers can actually use to help them move along their cycle much more quickly.

Pick 10 Customers and Start Gathering Feedback

The other thing is, if you’re dealing with corporations, pick your first 10 customers to go after. Don’t start marketing worldwide right away. Choose 10 customers, go after them, start getting some feedback, and start getting some traction, because nobody likes to be first, and you have to get your reference accounts.

Sell to People not to Companies

About Steve Davis

Stephen Davis, Principal and Founder of The CXO Advisory Group provides interim COO and VP Sales and Marketing services focused on improving the performance and profitability of emerging and established companies. Steve has worked with companies in North America, Europe and Asia to assist them in establishing US market operations, strategic alliances, joint ventures, business development and sales management. He has assisted clients with due diligence and preparation for venture financing.

Steve has more than 30 years experience as a senior executive, including COO and CMO with P&L responsibility in the computer, software, consumer electronics and Internet industries. Steve has successfully built, managed, and restructured numerous sales and marketing organizations. He has successfully developed new markets and has introduced over 300 new products into various industries.

Steve is an industry pioneer whose visionary marketing and sales strategies were instrumental in two of the PC industry milestone products. Among his many successes he was responsible for introducing ATARI’s home computer and Corvus OMNINET, the PC industry’s first local area network.

In 1989, Steve founded the Davis Management Group, a company whose proprietary sales management and marketing methodology promoted growth in client’s revenue and profitability. He is an executive strategist and problem solver who conceives, plans and implements new business practices to produce measurable improvements in market position, revenues and profits. Previously, Steve spent 15 years in senior level positions at major corporations including Qualogy, Corvus Systems, Atari, IBM and GE.

Steve is active with many groups that support entrepreneurs. He is a frequent speaker and prolific writer on marketing and sales topics. Davis has given speeches at some of the leading business and technology forums and his articles have appeared in a variety of engineering and IT business publications.