The decision-making funnel is always evolving. Many of the sales people we work with, and sales people in general, assume their prospects are in the market to make a purchase because something is going wrong. While this is a wholly justifiable assumption to make, it fails to cover the full spectrum of buyer motivations.

When considering whether or not to buy something, the driving factors behind your prospect’s decision making process can vary quite a bit. At Funnel Clarity, we teach our clients that there are three distinct categories that motivates a buyer to make a decision: Fix, Accomplish, or Avoid.

3 Motivations of a Buyer:

  1. Fix
  2. Accomplish
  3. Avoid

Buyer Motivation #1: Fix

A goal of “fixing” something most closely relates to frustration, and is the strongest factor out of the three. This happens when the prospect customer’s status quo is no longer satisfactory, and what their existing processes are not producing the results needed. At this stage of the funnel the prospect has been experiencing a challenge or frustration for an extended period of time. If they do not do anything to fix their challenge/frustration, there will be negative consequences – most seriously is they will lose their job.

Some examples of a prospect in Fix mode:

  • My team just does not pick up the phone anymore to cold call prospects, we have missed our goal last quarter, and we need to do something differently…

  • Every quarter it comes down to the wire in knowing what deals are going to close, and what’s not – I need to change the way we forecast.

  • Our conversion rate is not where it needs to be.

These days you could do some content marketing to help people who find themselves in this part of the sales funnel. You can start creating a good customer experience by helping them find some of the answers to their questions or problems. And you have to be able to reach your consumers in a variety of ways.

An effective inbound sales funnel contains lots of content to nurture various types of leads through the consumer decision journey. Whether it’s a brand awareness piece on social media that affects purchase decisions or creates word of mouth about your products or services. You can’t expect all of your prospects to convert on a single offer, just like you can’t expect a blog post or two to drive all of the traffic you need.

Research says if you wait until someone reaches you, the odds they become your customer is basically 16% or 17%. When you find these prospects in the “window of dissatisfaction”, and if you get there first, you are five times more likely to win the sale.

Researchers with the Customer Contact Council found similar results. They found that reducing a prospect’s effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—increases loyalty. Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.

Buyer Motivation #2: Accomplish

Accomplishing a new goal, or reaching a new target is the least motivating factor for a prospect to buy your solution. However, it’s an important factor to understand. This occurs when the prospect is happy with their team's or company's' existing processes, but due to some disruption of the status quo, they need to accelerate performance. This could be a result of competition, new regulation or legislation impacting their industry, or increased funding. Typically, if they are in accomplish mode and do not act, there won’t be any negative consequences.

Some examples of a prospect in Accomplish mode:

  • We have hit our meeting scheduling goal and would like to see them get two more meetings each per week.

  • The team just had their most successful quarter yet and they are eager to keep improving; I want to reward them with online sales training.

  • I want to get the team excited for the upcoming year, and want to do a sales training workshop at the SKO

Buyer Motivation #3: Avoid

Avoiding an impending negative outcome is the second most motivating factor for a prospect to make a buying decision. It’s similar to the first goal of “fixing” something, but with slightly less urgency. This happens when a change occurs to the prospects status quo, they recognize what they are currently doing won’t be sustainable, and need to act to avoid negative consequences. The prospect is looking into the future and wants to be proactive in solving a potential challenge/frustration. 

Some examples of a prospect in Avoid mode:

  • A new competitor just came into the space, we need to change our approach to potential clients or we will not hit our goal this year.

  • We barely crossed the finish line in reaching our meeting scheduling goal, I want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

  • We are hiring 10 new salespeople this year, I want to be sure they are ramped as quickly as possible, so we can hit our revenue targets.

Frame Your Approach Based on a Buyer's Motivation

While it’s true fixing your prospect’s challenges and frustrations will give you the highest likelihood of closing a deal, it’s important to understand these other factors that could be behind your customer’s decision making journey. Being able to identify if your buyer is trying to fix, accomplish, or avoid something will help to frame your approach, gain a holistic understanding of their situation, and ultimately give you a better sense of your pipeline.