Why People Buy

Why People Buy

Author – Greg Nanigian

💡Buying is an inherently emotional process.

The emotional gap between where the buyer is right now and the place the buyer wants to be is called “Pain“.

It’s the emotion from the buyer’s side that moves the sales process forward. Where there is pain, there is a possibility of working together. Where there isn’t, there’s not. It’s really that simple.

Most salespeople don’t uncover the impact of those problems on prospects’ companies or families, don’t identify the impact on prospects personally, and don’t establish prospects’ level of commitment to fixing the problem. As a result, they never find out the prospects’ true feelings-and feelings are where selling takes place.

You need to sell first and educate later.
No more free consulting. Your prospects must buy from you before they get any of your value-added knowledge.

💡No professional growth comes without change, and no change comes without discomfort.

Everyone is selling something. Everyone can do a better job of it if it is understood how to uncover and leverage pain.

The Features and Benefits Myth

Many salespeople believe that presenting features and benefits is an effective way to sell. Actually, it’s complete ineffective.

In most cases, the features and benefits dump only turns the prospect off and thwarts the sale.

Pain: What it is and why it’s most important

3 things to remember about pain:

  1. Pain is a deep-seated emotional need capable of compelling somebody to buy something.
  2. Pain facilitates the closure of a sale.
  3. Pain is not the problem prospects are having that they want to solve or fix. It is the gap between how they feel about the problem and how they’d like to feel.

Prospects may justify decisions logically, but the decision to buy always starts with feeling the pain.

💡Key point: There is a direct relationship between how much pain prospects feel and how much they will invest to fix it. Pain is one of the most misunderstood sales concepts, but also one of the most powerful once it is understood and harnessed.

The single most effective way to get a prospect emotionally involved is to have a meaningful conversation in which the prospect reveals pain and discusses it with the salesperson directly.

In order to relieve the pain, you must get the prospect to relive the pain.

Bonding and Rapport: The first step to relieving pain

  • DISC(dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness)
  • TA(transactional analysis)
  • NLP(neuro-linguistic programming)

Mirroring and Matching – The act of mirroring and matching the pitch, tonality, inflection, body language, and other traits and behaviors of the prospect or customer with whom you’re dealing with.

Humans tend to bond with people who match their body language and tonality.

When you’re on the phone try to mirror and match just 2 things: the volume of the other person’s voice and the rate at which the person talks. That’s a great start for establishing bonding and rapport.

Ask about impact-and use consistency theory

“What is the impact of this situation on your company?”

“I’m curious-what is the impact of this situation on you personally?”

Consistency theory: People are statistically more likely to follow through on something if they state that they will, either verbally or in writing, before the moment of truth.

💡Have you ever noticed that the most successful people write their goals down? That’s the consistency theory in action.

If people say they will do something as opposed to not saying it, that simple act dramatically improves the likelihood they will actually do it.

“On a scale of 0 to 10, what’s your level of commitment to seeing if there is a way to fix the problem?”

Where Pain Lives

Sandler Submarine: Bonding & Rapport → Up-front Contract → Budget → Decision → Fulfillment → Post-Sell

💡If you’ve got a process for taking a shower, doesn’t it make sense to have a process for earning your livelihood?

  1. Bonding & Rapport
    This is something that must occur continuously throughout the entire selling cycle and beyond.
  2. Up-Front Contract
    A verbal agreement between the salesperson and the prospect to clarify expectations of a sales call ahead of time, such as whether the call takes place in person, over the phone, what date/time, for how long, or any other logistical consideration.
    Purpose: Establish an agreement as to the purpose of the appointment.
    “So, as I understand it, our purpose in meeting is to ask each other questions and for me to get a better understanding of your CRM needs and tell you if I feel I can help so we can decide if it make sense to take a next step or not. Is that right?”
    “Usually when I talk to people like yourself regarding CRM, they have one or two or three things on their agenda that they’d like me to go over when we meet. To better prepare me for our get-together, can you share with me a few agenda items that you might like me to cover when I meet with you?”
    “I have a couple of things I’d like to go over when we meet. May I share them with you now so you can think about them and prepare so we can save time? … I’d like to understand better how you want to use the CRM and the shortfalls of the existing CRM. If we go forward, I’d like to understand who else will be involved in the installation, training, and customization of the CRM. Will you be able to help me with that?”
    Time: Agree to how long the meeting will last.
    “Given what our purpose is in getting together, what you have on your agenda, and what I have on my agenda, how much time do you feel we should block for our meeting?”
    Outcome: Helps you always get a yes, no, and a clearly defined and scheduled next step.
    “So, as I understand, at the end of our meeting we’ll decide together if it makes sense to schedule another meeting before we leave, or, if there was not a fit, we’ll close the file and part as friends, so to speak. Does that sound OK to you?”
  3. Pain
    Aim to uncover 3~5 points of deep-seated emotional needs: pains. If they find no pain, the prospect is disqualified. Move on.
  4. Budget
    Seek to discover what the prospect will pay to alleviate the pain.
    Everything that’s concerned with money occurs here, including all the details in terms of a payment plan and how you will get paid.
  5. Decision
    Reach an agreement with the prospect and confirm that he has the authority to make a decision in your favor.
    The prospect will make a decision.
    The decision could be: to buy or not; to get you in front of the real decision makers or not; to agree to se a next appointment with you or not.
    In this step, you reach an agreement to one of the three scenarios just mentioned in exchange for your commitment to deliver a presentation.
    Never, ever give a presentation unless you have a clear agreement as to exactly what will happen next.
  6. Fulfillment
    Starts when salespeople review the prior steps of pain, budget, and decision and share recommendations on what they would specifically do to alleviate that pain.
    Only discuss things that are directly relevant to the pain that was uncovered in the Pain Step.
  7. Post-Sell
    Check for any buyer’s remorse and address it if any exists.
    Get introductions or referrals or set the stage to get them later in the relationship.
    Discuss next steps and details of the delivery timeline and provide any hand-offs to other people in your organization.

Get prospects to share pain with DISC

Qualifying prospects by measuring their pain early in the sales process is essential to effective sales.

DISC: Dominant | Influencer | Steady Relator | Compliant

Generally, in a person’s personality, one of these traits prevails over the rest.

Identify the most prevalent communication and behavioral traits in the prospect, and adjust your behavior and communication style to match.


  • direct & candid
  • perceived as terse, uncaring, or cold
  • tend to want a win-lose outcome in the negotiation
  • they want the salesperson to lose, and they want to win
  • primary emotional response is anger
  • they always seem to be in a hurry
  • dealing with them, you need to be concise and direct
  • demonstrate your efficiency
  • let them feel that they are in control
  • Be on time and be ready to get right down to business.
  • Use very limited humor; limit your use of third-party stories.
  • Go to the bottom line and work backwards; if they want details, they’ll ask.
  • Offer two or three alternative choices.
  • Let them win—or at least have the perception of winning.
  • Be direct; touch on high points and be candid.
  • Give facts in a logical flow to support your position, but don’t overuse data.
  • Don’t try to combine business with social talk; for instance, don’t invite them to a sales call over lunch.


  • talkative
  • social interaction, colorful, and fun
  • provide a sense of humor
  • need socialization
  • let them enjoy the experience and fully communicate with you
  • optimism and affability
  • Be prepared for plenty of small talk/socializing.
  • Allow extra time for appointments. These people like to talk.
  • Use plenty of third-party stories and humor.
  • Keep in mind that facts and figures aren’t as important to these folks as personal chemistry.
  • Be personable.
  • Don’t be obsessively bottom-line, withdrawn, or hurried.
  • Smile, laugh, and be warm.
  • Give sincere compliments.
  • Express passion and enthusiasm.

Steady Relators

  • loyal
  • yearn to build relationships based on trust
  • introverted personalities
  • take the time to know them, their goals, and their pains
  • let them get to know you too, but don’t share any of your pain
  • their emotional signature is no emotion at all
  • Show a sincere personal interest.
  • Be patient; listen a lot.
  • Outline your selling process in terms that show concern for prospects’ welfare—Steady Relators like processes outlined ahead of time.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Draw out their opinions.
  • Remember that these people are slower to make decisions than Dominants and Influencers.
  • Be reliable and deliver on exactly what you say; that is what they do, and therefore what they expect.
  • Give notice of any unexpected changes personally, and with plenty of advance notice. Change shakes up Steady Relators.
  • Show how important the relationship is to you. (Sending thank-you cards is one way to do that.)
  • Be prepared to deal with strong loyalty to a current vendor; use the pain identification approaches you are learning in this book to facilitate closure.
  • Be careful not to say anything negative about the current vendor; chances are the Steady Relator has been working with that vendor for a while.


  • they gather their own info
  • all too frequently, everything boils down to price
  • tend to appear very logical
  • primary emotion is fear
  • introverted
  • take the longest to make a decision
  • be patient with them
  • leave them somewhat curious and hand over a research report to read
  • Do not combine business with socialization.
  • Give Compliants something to research in preparation for appointments where you plan on presenting for a decision.
  • Focus on your product or service quality.
  • Offer plenty of details before you make your final recommendations.
  • Do your homework.
  • Be direct, and be prepared with all the data.
  • Be prepared for an attempt to negotiate your price down; these are the most price-sensitive prospects.
  • Be organized and logical.
  • Involve Compliant prospects in your planning.
  • Allow Compliants plenty of time to think things through, but always get an agreement for a clear (scheduled) next step.
  • Don’t criticize. These prospects don’t handle criticism well, even though they tend to be overly critical of others.
  • Be patient as Compliants dive deeper and deeper and deeper into the details. That’s just how they process or incubate information and arrive at a conclusion. Compliants love to analyze all the alternatives to arrive at a “safe” decision.
  • Remember this: In the endgame, the Compliant is likely to get stuck on one issue and only want to win that one issue. Nothing else matters! Usually that issue is price.

Get Prospects to share pain with TA

Transactional Analysis: 3 egos → the Parent, the Child, the Adult

Parent Ego State → Nurturing Parent | Critical Parent
acts like an audio recorder
“You can be anything you want to be”
“You are special.”
“You’ll always get credit for trying.”
“Look both ways before you cross the street.”
“Don’t talk to strangers.”
“Finish all the food on your plate.”
“Don’t be late.”
While the Critical Parent might be looking out for a person’s best interest, it is a worrier and can prevent the person from stepping beyond his comfort zones.
“Don’t talk to strangers.”
Discomfort can cause call reluctance.

Child Ego State → Rebellious Child | Natural Child | Adaptive Child | Little Professor
yearns to please
compel them to educate and enlighten others.

Adult Ego State → Updated Parent | Updated Child
should be the principal navigator through a sales call
logical part of the personality
allows people to alter the warnings they heard in childhood from the Critical Parent

When you apply TA to selling, you want 70% of your selling to come from the Nurturing Parent. The remaining 30% should come from the Adult.
0% should come from a Critical Parent or the Child.

The logical, knowledgeable Adult needs to make all the decisions for you and direct all the other aspects of your personality.
The main thing you need to keep in mind throughout the sales cycle is “nurture, nurture, nurture.”

The Pain Funnel

1.“Tell me more about that…”
2.“Can you be more specific? Give me an example.”
3.“How long has that been a problem?”
4.“What have you tried to do about that?”
5.“And did that work?”
6.“How much do you think that has cost you?”
7.“How do you feel about that?”
8.“Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?”

“The best presentation you will ever give is the one the prospect doesn’t see.”


Set up your reverses with 3 easy steps:

  1. Give a “stroke” or compliment: “Hey, that’s a great question”, or “I get that question a lot.”
  2. Repeat: The second part of a reverse is to repeat a prospect’s question or use a softening statement, such as “Do you mind if I ask you a question before I answer that?”
  3. Question: Propose the question you want to ask.

“I’m not convinced yet that we have anything for you, so I would like to dedicate some time today for us to ask each other some questions so we can identify whether or not we might be a match here.”

The Dummy Curve

Go back to what you used to do in the beginning. Ask lots of questions, listen a lot, and not talk so much.

Act vulnerable, asking questions, admit lack of understanding, and ask the prospect for help.

“Can you help me with this? I don’t quite understand what you mean.”

“When you’re talking about this, could you just explain it to me like I was a five year old?”

Make the prospect feel superior to you.

💡By acting slightly more vulnerable than the prospect, you help prospects feel better about answering questions that uncover their pain.

People become OK through the empowerment of helping, and by finding someone who is more not-OK than they are.

If there's math to be done, let the prospect do it.

Struggle just enough that the prospect will want to help you.

Negative Reverse Selling

Strip-lining technique – acting in a manner opposite to the way the prospect expects you to act.

“Look, it sounds like you’re pretty happy, and we’re not going to do any business, but I’m curious. Nothing is perfect. If you had to pick one thing that could be better, what would it be?”

“Could you be nice enough to tell me more about that?”

  • Neutral prospects get very hard strip-lines, such as,
    “It sounds like you’re very happy and I should leave. Before I go, what do you like about who you’re doing business with now?”
  • Negative prospects get hard strip-lines, but not as hard as neutral prospects. For example,
    “Based on what you just said about your current vendor, it makes sense to me why you’re not so interested in changing your business to another company. We get great feedback like that from our customers, too, but that vendor of yours sounds really good at what they do. I don’t know if you can do any better than that. There doesn’t seem to be much opportunity for us to work together here—is there?”
  • Positive prospects get strip-lines that are just a light tug:
    “Thanks for reaching out to us. I have to say, your friend Bronwyn gets almost all the credit for having a great experience with us. She was very good about explaining the application problem, and that really helped with her happy outcome with us. Since I don’t know your application, I’m not sure if I can help you as well at this point. Could you be nice enough to tell me about it?”
  1. The first component is a build-up (a compliment or validation of the prospect’s point of view). In the above, an example of that was, “It sounds like you’re very happy.”
  2. The second component is a takeaway (a conclusion that goes in the opposite direction to what the prospect expects). In the above, an example was, “…and I should leave.”
  3. The third component is a question (a continuation of the discussion). In the above, an example was, “Before I go, what do you like about who you’re doing business with now?”

When you strip-line a prospect using all three components of the technique, you are likeliest to uncover the most meaningful information.

Strip-line very hard with neutral prospects-even sounding like you are getting ready to leave the sales call or implying that you think the sales call is over; strip-line hard with negative prospects; strip-line lightly with positive prospects.

💡People feel better about their buying decisions when they feel like they made them themselves and weren’t coerced, tricked, or sold.

Active Listening

Is there anything more frustrating than not being heard?

Many salespeople talk too much.

A good sales call is like an interview.

In a good interview, the salesperson is only talking about 30% of the time-the prospect is talking about 70% of the time.

Good active listeners do one of two things: either they repeat back more or less verbatim what the prospect has just said(flat mirror) or they attempt to paraphrase what the prospect has said.

Prospect: Starts to talk about the situation.
Salesperson: “So, what I hear you saying (repeats or paraphrases prospect’s statement). Is there more?”
Prospect: Shares more.
Salesperson: “So, what I hear you saying (repeats or paraphrases prospect’s statement). Is there more?”
Prospect: Shares more.
Salesperson: “So, what I hear you saying (repeats or paraphrases prospect’s statement). Is that it?”
Prospect: “Yes.”
Salesperson: “How does all this make you feel?”
Prospect: Shares feelings.
Salesperson: “That make sense to me because if I experienced (repeats or paraphrases all the prospect stated) then I would feel (repeats how the prospect feels), too. How were you hoping I could help?”

Common Barriers to Active Listening

  1. The prospects talks a mile a minute
    If the prospect is going on and on but is sharing words such as afraid, uncertain, doubt, angry, concern, or anxious, don’t interrupt. But if you aren’t hearing pain words, then you must use some technique to redirect the conversation.
    As a rule of thumb, you can assume you’re doing fine when you are hearing FUDWACA words.
  2. Vocabulary mismatch
    Make sure you’re not using words that rise above the prospect’s level of OK-ness. Similarly, if your prospect has a big vocabulary, do your best to match the way he speaks.
  3. Stealing the spotlight
    Resist the urge to talk about yourself or your product. Resist anything that might take away from discovering the prospect’s pain or cause you to run out of time on the appointment.

Costing out the problem and the pain-o-meter

People buy emotionally.

💡If people see their problem in terms of how much money it is and will continue to cost them, it bothers them.

Pain compels people to buy.

While people are motivated by gain, pain is more powerful.

In any given situation, targeting the pain is more powerful than targeting the gain.

Convert your prospects' problems into a dollar cost to generate even more pain.

Costing out the problem(COP) – means you break the cost of inaction down to dollars and cents.

Suppose your company president was sitting here in this meeting with us. What do you suppose she’d be saying?

The way you express your value is very important. You want to express it as a loss and uncover how the prospect feels about that loss. In fact, if you don’t start using COP, you will lose sales. Your choice not to take action will end up costing you a whole lot of money.

The problem shared at this point is intellectual in nature. Examples of what I’m calling technical problems are: prospects are getting late deliveries, no one picks up the phone when they call their suppliers, their computers are running slow, or, as in the example on the illustration, prospects’ investments are not performing well, or they have no college fund.
These problems touch on several different solutions, products, or services that might be needed. One of the keys at this point in the interaction with prospects is to realize that they might need a solution. The other key is to realize that technical problems are not pains. You need to move the needle to the right if at all possible. Whenever you are in this situation, the goal is to move the needle to the far right into the buying zone, or to find out there is no pain.

“How does that affect your company, group, team, department, or family?”

“So, how does that affect your family?”

In order to relieve the pain, you must get the prospect to relive the pain. Reliving pain makes prospects become emotionally involved, and that may compel them to "fix" the problem.

“How does this impact you personally?”

“How would that affect you?”
“How would you feel about that?”

Best practices for uncovering pain in groups

“Look, we only have about 90 minutes, there are five people, you and I have been talking on the phone for 20 minutes, and we have just scratched the surface. It seems to me that it would be a good use of everyone’s time if I could find out what they hope to get out of the meeting, so I can better prepare.”

“Listen, I appreciate everybody taking time out of the busy workday to meet with me. I want to make sure you get the most out of these next 90 minutes. I can probably spend a full day talking about our products and services, but at this point, I’m not absolutely convinced that I have something for you. I hope I do. So, in order for us to figure out whether it makes sense for us to work together, could you be kind enough to go around the table and share a little bit about yourselves, as well as, from your perspective, what you hope to get out of this limited amount of time we have here today—what you hope to learn? Include maybe, from your perspective, what is your biggest challenge—what are you running into along the lines of what we are here to talk about today—so I can address that and tell you whether that is down our alley and something that I might be able to help you with. Is that all right with everyone?”

“OK, so we’ve got a lot of different things to work on today and a limited period of time to do it. How about we agree to what a potential next step would be? Let’s say we get to the end of the meeting. One potential next step is there is no match, what I have to say doesn’t resonate with you, I don’t think I can help you anyway, things like that, and we will close the file and part as friends. But if at the end it seems like we’re a good match, and it might make sense to pursue this, what would you all suggest as a next step?”

💡The sign of a good talk is to leave a lot of unanswered questions. Don’t sound evasive or to avoid the questions, but if you leave a lot of unanswered questions, it generally paves the way to them wanting more.

Troubleshooting problems with uncovering pain

  • “Are you mirroring and matching your prospects’ actions?
    For example, when they offer you a cup of coffee or a glass of water, do you ask, “Are you having one?” If they are, join them. If not, don’t have one.
  • Are you mirroring and matching the style of dress?
    For example, do the prospects’ team members wear formal business attire, or are they dressed in T-shirts and jeans? Figure that out before the appointment and dress accordingly. If you’re not sure, just call and ask—it shows you’re on your game.
  • Are you mirroring and matching the rate at which your prospects speak and the type of vocabulary they use?”
    When you do, prospects are much more likely to relate to you and feel that they’ve known you for a long time.
Don't mirror at the exact same time. Have a 15~20 second delay before mirroring a prospect's body language. In that way, you'll never get caught doing it, and you'll generally find that bonding and rapport will happen within the first few minutes.

💡On average, women require more eye contact than men.

Up-front contracts can be powerful tools to manage expectations and position yourself for your desired outcomes.