Why Customers Don’t Buy

Steve Martin (no, not the comedian/author/wild-and-crazy-guy, but the USC teacher, author, and sales thought leader) asks what it is that prevents customers from buying. The answer is, customers experience fear, uncertainty, and doubt while making their selection.

Even after a careful evaluation of the product, a prospective customer can still be stressed about a purchase. The stress these emotions create serve as the key factor in determining whether or not a purchase will be made.

In this article, Martin explains the 6 types of stress felt by customers that salespeople must anticipate:

  • Budgetary Stress: Customers wonder whether the company’s money is available for spending.

  • Corporate-Citizenship Stress: They ask themselves whether it is in the best interest of the company to make the purchase.

  • Organizational Stress: A customer worries about how a purchase he/she makes for the company will be perceived by his/her colleagues.

  • Vendor Selection Stress: Buyers may elongate the evaluation process before making a purchase decision if the difference in product between competitors is very small.

  • Informational Stress: Customers can be skeptical of the credibility and truthfulness of sales pitches.

  • Evaluation Committee Stress: When a company makes a purchase through a group decision, the sales cycle can be delayed due to conflict or disagreement within the group making the purchase.

Martin emphasizes a simple, but critical environmental condition: Customers are stressed out. They don’t know whom or what to believe. Placed under immense peer pressure, customers are torn between doing the right thing for the greater good of the company and acting in their best personal interest. To make matters worse, vendors increase pressure through assertions of their own superiority and accusations of their competitors’ inferiority. For all these reasons it’s no surprise that indecision is the top competitor today.

What have you encountered lately with your business prospects that is similar to or different from Martin’s observations?