How do Customer’s Make Decisions?

by | Jul 21, 2015 | Psychology of Selling

We’re all customers. Whether it’s buying a house, a car or making a decision at work to purchase a million dollar solution, you’ve made decisions.


Is it a checklist of certain criteria? Is it based solely on price, or do you make it based on consensus?

I’m guessing that when you make a decision, one of your main goals is to make the right one!

Jonah Lehrer, author of, How We Decide gives us his insights on how we decide and how the brain actually works. He says, “On the evaluation sheets of NFL scouts, decision-making is listed in the category of Intangibles. It’s one of the most important qualities in a quarterback, and yet nobody knows what it is.”

Jonah goes on to say that “The most popular theory frames decision-making in epic terms, as a pitched battle between reason and emotion, with reason often triumphing.”

This was a little bit of a surprise to me since we’ve often said that we make decisions emotionally and then back it up by logic.

I would say this all depends on the context of the decision. When we buy life insurance, I believe emotion plays a huge role. It starts with the “what if.” What if your forty years old with three kids and a stay at home wife and a disaster happens to you. Wouldn’t you want your family to be taken care of? Of course you would. When you hear examples of devastations of those families that did not have life insurance, you want to make sure you don’t end up in the same situation they did. Here we see emotion having a huge impact and reason is used to justify the emotion.

But Jonah goes on to say that a quarterback with a more rational mind will have the better ability to analyze the facts on the field, transcend his feelings, instincts and impulses and be more successful.

Have you ever made an emotional decision that you later regretted?

I certainly have.

We all need to evaluate the situation rationally before letting our emotions take over.

When selling, most people make decisions based on the cost, quality, service and capability.

Will it do what I want it to do? Is it within my budget? Am I buying from a reputable company that has strong service if that is needed?

Then we move to the intangibles that touch our emotions.

If this is a complex sale where there might be multiple decision makers and it’s a high risk/cost decision like a 50 million dollar software application, your relationship with the sales person plays a stronger role. Just ask any successful IBM sales person.

Jonah also says, “The reality of the brain is that, sometimes, rationality can lead us astray.”

You can overthink and get bogged down in too many details that might not matter. Thinking too much can be detrimental.

Astute sales professionals balance the message to the customer based on the customer’s personality style. Some put more weight on rational thinking- the facts. Some will put more weight on the relationship- their feeling about doing business with that sales person and their company.

A good sales person will assess what is most important to that buyer.

So on your next sales call, start by asking yourself, what type of person am I working with? Are they more focused on the tangibles or the intangibles? Then proceed with confidence knowing that you are in touch with what is most needed by them.

Good selling!