How to Identify Buying Motives to Deliver Killer Sales Presentations

Written by: Lisa Rose
How to Identify Buying Motives to Deliver Killer Sales Presentations

There are many different reasons behind why a prospect or customer makes a B2B purchasing decision. But all of those reasons typically fall under 4 basic Buying Motive categories.

Why is it important for your salespeople to understand these categories?

If your reps can quickly recognize the buying motives of their prospects and customers, they can tailor their sales presentations in a way that will move the buyer into action.

Let’s start by going over the 4 basic Buying Motives that stimulate a customer to act:

1. Economic Motive

This motive is tied to money: making money, saving money, increasing profit, increasing sales, etc.

While it’s a common influencer in the decision-making process, it’s rarely the only thing a buyer is motivated by.

2. Reducing Risk Motive

Many buyers are motived by risk aversion, or “playing it safe.” Customers and prospects often fear change because of the unknown impact it may have.

They might feel safer maintaining the status quo, choosing a conservative option, or opting for warranties and guarantees when making their purchasing decision.

3. Time Motive

This motive can take several forms, but centers on time.

Can you deliver your product or service quickly? Will it save the prospect or customer time and hassle?

4. Pride or Prestige Motive

People want to make purchasing decisions that make them look good.

A prospect or customer may be looking to make their mark on a company with an impactful change. They may also just want to receive recognition for a job well done.

Either way, improving/maintaining professional reputation certainly can come into play with a purchasing decision.

How Your Salespeople Can Uncover a Customer’s Buying Motives

To identify a prospect or customer’s underlying buying motives, your salespeople must do something they might find challenging: listen.

Not listening to respond, but actively listening to understand.

Have your sales reps use an effective questioning approach (the PROBE step if they’re already trained in the IMPACT Selling® process) to determine what is motivating a buyer’s purchasing decision.

The key to good questioning is using open-ended questions that allow the buyer to say what they want or need in their own words.

Another tip is to use a three-deep questioning approach, which is a technique that’s taught in The Brooks Group’s training programs. Asking an initial question, and then digging deeper with follow-up questions reveals the underlying buying motives, wants, needs, and challenges of the prospect or customer.

Using Buying Motives to Deliver an Impactful Sales Presentation

There’s a huge advantage to spending time upfront to uncover information about a buyer.

Knowing what will move a buyer into action allows your salespeople to focus their presentation on the features and benefits that are most relevant to the buyer (and most likely to close the sale.)

Buyers are people. Like the rest of us, they have busy schedules and short attention spans. They will only pay attention to and remember the points of the presentation that are immediately relevant and important to them.

Instead of going on and on about all the features and benefits your product or service offers, your salespeople should narrow it down to the 2 or 3 that are most relevant to the buyer—the ones that align with their dominant buying motive.

Let’s look at an example:

Through questioning, your salesperson has learned that their prospect is dissatisfied with the quality they’re receiving from their current supplier.

To dive deeper, your sales reps asks:

“So, you’re having quality issues with your current supplier. How does that translate to your business?”

The prospect responds:

“It’s delaying our delivery to stores because we need to return the damaged signs to our vendor.”

Sales reps digs deeper:

“What impact does that have on your company?”

The prospect responds:

“We spend a lot of time and energy negotiating the returns and tracking down deliveries.”

Sales reps digs deeper:

“What would it mean to you to have guaranteed quality signage delivered on time?”

The prospect responds:

“We really want to partner with a high-quality company that has design capabilities and can deliver on time, every time.”

From this interaction, we can see that Time is a key buying motive for this prospect. They’ve also been burned by a supplier in the past, so they’re likely motivated by Reducing Risk with a new supplier.

Using this information, the sales rep should choose to highlight the benefits of their product/service that address Time and Reducing Risk.

Here’s what the sales rep should focus on:

  • The online scheduling system that gives customers full visibility into a project’s completion status
  • The guarantee that ensures the product arrives on time, every time, or else it’s free
  • The case study that highlights the high-level of quality the company is known for


Many salespeople make assumptions regarding the motives of the prospect, and many times those assumptions are wrong.

Delivering sales presentations that are truly valuable and relevant to the prospect starts with uncovering the dominant buying motives. Help your salespeople get to the emotions and “the why” behind a buyer’s purchasing decision, and they’ll be delivering killer presentations that close deals in no time.

Effective questioning that uncovers buyer motives is just one key skill taught in the Award-Winning IMPACT-U® online sales training program. Learn More.

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Written By

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Group Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

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