Ray Collis

Helping Your Customers To Justify Their Decisions

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Sellers must make sure that the buyer is in a position to justify the decision.  Otherwise the risk of a stalled deal increases greatly.  This is particularly important when decisions are driven by instinct or emotion.


Are Your Buyers Driven By Emotion?

Professional managers are supposed to make logical analytical decisions in buying, just as in any other area of business. However the reality on the ground can be different.

Some buyers are more logical and analytical than others. Indeed sellers will often point to buyers that are not very logical at all.  These customers:

– Buy emotionally rather than rationally

– Buy based on the relationship with a salesperson

– Have already made up their mind about who they want to buy from

– Make a pretty quick instinctive judgement as to the right product, or supplier.

According to these sellers, these buyers are swayed by impulse and emotion for big as well as small purchases.  

However just because a buyer decides emotionally, does not take from the need to build a rational justification for the decision.


Why A Rational Justification Is Required

While the Buyer may decide emotionally he, or she may need the rationale to back  it up, in order to:

– Get the decision signed-off or approved at a more senior level

– Justify the decision in the event of scrutiny at some point in the future

– Bring stakeholders on side

– Deal with finance or procurement

– Secure budget or to fend off other competing purchases or projects

– Prevent the decision from getting stalled, or over-turned because of a change of events

– Be ready to fend off any criticism including any suggestion of favouritism for a supplier

– Show that internal buying processes and procedures have been followed

– Guard against last minute nerves, cold feet or a change of heart, in particular where the buyer is worried about going out on a limb.

As the above list suggests there are at least 9 reasons why building a rational justification is important even for the most impulsive buyer.

These are also the reasons why relying on the buyer’s impulsive decision could put the seller at risk of a stalled deal.


How To Build The Justification

Increasingly, even impulsive or emotional buying decisions must be justified rationally.  The logic for the decision needs to be clear.

The justification may be required to backfill a decision that has been already made, or to get a new decision sanctioned.

Buyers may decide emotionally, but that does not mean that they don’t need to back up or justify their decision with numbers and analysis.

The formula for justifying the decision takes the tried and tested format of the business case:

(Benefits – Costs) x Risk x Strategic Fit x Compliance x Politics

For buyers who have already decided, this is the formula the seller can use in order to justify the chosen option.  For new decisions it is the basis of the compelling argument for the budget to be allocated, or the decision sanctioned.

Without such a business case justification – whether it is one page or 20 pages – the buyer’s impulsive decision may not result in a purchase order.


Buyers Are Only Human

Buying decisions are made by people, not machines. That means emotion, impulse and other factors have a role to play in the decision.

However it is important to point out that the picture of emotion-led buyers is somewhat at odds with our research into complex buying decisions.

Certainly few buyers would admit to be emotional, impulsive or irrational in their buying choices.

In addition the advent of buying processes and procedures in so many organization, and the increase scrutiny of buying decisions by finance and procurement, for example, mitigate against emotional, or impulsive buying decisions.

These factors raise the possibility that some buyers, at least, are more logical and analytical than sellers give them credit for. However, the bottom line is:

Even if the buyer is impulsive and decides on instinct and emotion, the seller should always make logic his, or her friend. 

A key requirement of winning the sale is to help the buyer to justify their decision to select your company and its solution.  For those customers who decide on instinct and emotion, the seller has a vital role in providing the supporting rationale for the decision

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