how to sell onlineUnderstanding How Buyers Think

Ever wondered how to get inside the mind of a potential customer?

What goes on in the buyer’s mind as they go through making a decision on whether to buy, or not? It can be really frustrating when you offer something that you think is really great to people but nobody seems to want it. After all, you know how good whatever you are trying to sell is. Why won’t they just believe you and buy it?

This post will explain the basics of buyer psychology, so you can better understand what makes a buyer tick…

and hopefully get you some sales in the process.

When you run an online business, or any other business for that matter, the only thing that generates income is sales. Everything else is an expense, either in terms of time, or money. With this in mind, it would seem only natural to make sure that this part of your business is working perfectly, wouldn’t it?

In reality though, many business owners think that simply putting what they have for sale in front of potential customers is enough to make sales. Oh, if only it were that easy.

Just because you think something is great, doesn’t mean your customers will. You need to convince them that it is. First though, you need to understand what it is that turns a browser into a buyer.

The first thing you need to understand is that it is the customer that decides what is valuable to them, not you. Find out what it is your potential customers want, and give it to them. Never try to sell someone something you think they need though (at least, not at first). It may well be the case that what you are selling is exactly what they need…but if they don’t want it, you lose.

The second thing which influences the buying process is called reciprocity. This means that when someone has been given something by someone, they are more likely to buy from them in return. This is because the person who has received something for nothing feels obliged to return the generosity shown to them. They tend to want to return the favor. If this is in the form of buying something from you, all the better. Give first, sell later.

The third point to remember is, once someone has bought from you once, they are more likely to buy from you again. It makes sense then to ease the buying decision by offering a very low priced  entry product to get the first sale. Once the first sale has been made you can offer higher priced items to the buyer. This technique is known as the ‘tripwire’ or the ‘foot-in-the-door’ method.

Finally, the environment that the buyer is in can influence the buying decision. What this means is, if the buyer is searching for dog food, don’t try to sell them cat food. If the customer is only interested in one way of making money online, why waste your time trying to convince them to buy another…sell them what they want. One thing I recently discovered is that you need to understand what a potential customer is trying to achieve at the moment in time when you engage with them.

Recently, I tried to offer a free download in return for subscribing to my newsletter on a site where people are only there to click ads in order to receive payments for doing exactly that. They were not interested in what the ads actually said (unless it was promising instant riches I suppose). Rather they just wanted to click as many ads as possible to earn as much as possible. I was in the wrong place, looking to get someone to do something they simply were not interested in. Remember, it is the customer who decides what is valuable to them, not you (or me, in this case).

It is also worth mentioning at this point that when people receive surprise rewards (gifts) they become more motivated to do whatever task they were undertaking at the time. If this happens to be buying something, they will therefore be more motivated to buy more if a surprise gift is given after the first sale.

Also, scarcity enhances the value of something in the buyer’s mind. If someone feels like they may miss out, or there is not enough to go around, they are more likely to make the purchase on the spot. You can see this technique being used all the time on sales pages in the form of countdown timers.

Here is a list of 7 points you should try to consider when attempting to convince a potential customer to buy from you.

  • People make the decision to buy based as much on feelings as on logic. In other words, if something makes them feel good, and makes sense to them, they are more likely to buy than if there is no emotional impact involved. People naturally seek to avoid pain and increase pleasure.


  • Potential buyers will always ask themselves ‘what’s in it for me’. Tell them.


  • People have a greater need to escape the pain they are in (pain means problem in this case) than gaining a benefit.  Explain how what you are trying to sell will solve their problems.


  • Buyers are naturally suspicious, especially if they know nothing about you. You need to first let them get to know you, then like you, and finally trust you before asking for the sale. This doesn’t mean you need to become buddies  with them, just tell them a bit about yourself. Be real. Be polite. Be honest.


  • The logical mind of a buyer wants fact and figures, the emotional side wants images and stories. Appeal to the emotions of a potential buyer as much, if not more, than the logical side. An emotional response, once achieved, is difficult to overcome for the buyer. If it makes them feel good about themselves, this will likely override any doubts they have. On the other hand, if the buyer’s first impression of you and your product is a bad one, you can pretty much forget about the sale.


  • Buyers want value. They want to feel like they are getting more than they are paying for. You could even go so far as to say they want to feel like they have got one over on the buyer. No matter, if the perceived value of what you are selling is greater than the cost to the buyer, you are well on your way.


  • People have a ‘herd mentality’. This means they are more likely to copy what others have done in order to feel like they ‘fit in’. That is why social proof, evidence of past sales, successes, and benefits, is an important tool in the seller’s arsenal.


Well, there you have it. A basic guide to what influences the buying decision of your customers. The next time you create an ad, put up a sales page, or write sales copy for one of your products, bear these points in mind. Don’t think about what’s in it for you when you make a sale. Think about what’s in it for the buyer. Hopefully this post will help you to do that.

Til next time, take care.


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