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The 5 Psychological Factors Behind Customer Decisions

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Richardson's Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor

By Ben Taylor, Content Marketing Manager, Richardson

Channel Partners Insights logoThe pace of change in technology is intensifying and the escalation isn’t limited to products. New businesses, services and leaders emerge every day. This changing picture is adding to the complexities facing technology professionals seeking to engage buyers.

Breaking through these layers means returning to the fundamental principles governing the buyer’s decision process. Sales professionals need to understand the psychology behind customer decisions.

Here, we examine the five core psychological factors underpinning the customer’s decision process.

We reveal the hidden biases at work during buying decisions and how IT professionals can address them when positioning the sale. We examine how things like incidental emotional states influence decisions. We look at why something called prospect theory can be used to increase momentum through the buying journey. With these and other findings backed by social psychology research, IT professionals can more effectively cut through the noise, connect with the customer and win the sale.

1. Putting the solution at eye level drives buying behavior. Solutions, especially those in IT, are becoming increasingly complex. Therefore, products and services demand more focus from customers during the buying decision process. This burden can lead some customers to take a shortcut when analyzing a purchase. Researchers at Columbia learned that this shortcut occurs when we draw on the immediate context of a situation to make a decision.

The researchers call this response to context “choice construction.” They explain that “choice construction will be more prevalent under greater uncertainty,” and uncertainty abounds in buying decisions.

To illustrate the power of choice construction, the researchers give an example of a product at eye level on a store shelf. Customers often purchase this item more than other similar products. Therefore, it seems that they are loyal to this brand. However, when that product is moved to another location in the store, customers merely purchase whatever replacement item is in the location of the original product. They prefer what is at eye level, not a specific brand. IT professionals can put this finding to use by remembering to simplify the value proposition of their solution by putting it at “eye level.” They can do so by:

  • Articulating the relevance of the solution to the customer’s specific needs
  • Using ordinary language when describing features and benefits
  • Comparing the solution to other aspects of their business to make the product familiar

2. Short-term emotions drive long-term buying decisions. Researchers at the University of Southern California and Duke University wanted to understand how emotions influence decision making. However, their inquiry had a twist. They wanted to know how an emotion today might impact a decision days later. Participants in the experiment were asked to cross a suspension bridge they believed was dangerous. The researchers were exploring something called the “incidental emotional state.” This concept suggests that “emotions on decision making can live longer than the emotional experience itself.”

The study posits that …

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