When did you last buy something because someone wanted to sell it to you? Unless your kids have set up a money making venture I’ll bet the answer is ‘never’. Your customers and prospects are the same, they don’t buy because you want to sell they buy because they have a good reason for the purchase. Most often that reason is a problem they want to solve. Your task as a business owner is to identify a problem that troubles enough people and which you can solve at a price that people are prepared to pay. So I believe that the first question you need to ask yourself when launching a new business or a new product or service is…

Why will anyone want to buy this?

Think about all the different motivations someone might have. Typically these could include saving time or money, making an aspect of life easier, greater peace of mind, improved health or fitness, minimising our impact on the planet  and lots more. You may have come across Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs before, this can be a good place to start when considering a buyer’s possible motivation.

If you’re not familiar with this concept then Maslow suggested that people’s motivation changes as they achieve and acquire more. So we start with the basic needs to sustain life… food, drink, sleep and shelter and progress to safety and security which can include employment, a place to call home and some stability in life. Next comes love and belonging. So at this stage someone may feel lonely or isolated in one or more aspects of life. It’s worth remembering that people can be lonely in a crowd if they have nothing in common with that crowd. Once all these things are in place motivation may come from the need for recognition and praise, from the desire for learning and maybe from a feeling that there is as yet untapped potential.

Of course life isn’t always straight forward. Circumstances change so we may not progress up the hierarchy of needs and stop there. Things like divorce or redundancy can move someone rapidly from the top of the pyramid to somewhere much lower down. People can be in different places with different aspects of their lives, for example a small business owner maybe very happy with their domestic life but feel very isolated and inadequate in their business.

Motivation doesn’t always come from a lack of something, it can also come from having too much. Some of us are constantly moaning that we don’t have enough time but there are others for whom the day drags. We might moan about a lack of space when the problem is actually that we have too much stuff! And sometimes we may crave a more simple offer, for example Smartphones now have too many features for some people who just want to make calls.

You may be selling to another business so your buyers may be looking for more or happier customers, increased profit, better quality, greater sustainability, specific skills or experience etc. There may be a mixture of business need and personal opinion in a business buyer’s motivation


Before you launch a business, a product or service drill down to list all the possible reasons why someone might want to buy what you are selling. Don’t edit. Don’t evaluate. Don’t think about who will buy, just why ANYONE might buy. Do think outside the box. Feel free to go wild and wacky. Just get that list done, the longer the better.

In my next article we’ll think about who would make a good customer for your products or services.

If you’re not confident that you understand how your customer reaches a buying decision sign up for my free buying decision challenge which kicks off on Monday 6th August. Don’t worry if that clashes with your holiday you’ll have access to all the material at a time that does work for you. Sign up here.

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