Buyer Decision Criteria

It Cost What? Understanding The Buyer’s Criteria

Suppose you’re in the market to make a major car purchase. You go through the entire process, and after going through your “buyer’s criteria,” you notice two dealerships with the same car —from the color down to the floor mats. The vehicle comes from the same automaker, has the same warranty, and the dealerships offer similar services and support. In fact, they are even the same distance from your home. But that’s when you notice that one vehicle costs $1,000 more than the other.

Unless you have a relationship with someone at one of these dealerships, are you going to pay a $1,000 premium for what appears to be the exact same alternative? Absolutely not.

Think about What You Sell

We have all heard this from a buyer at one point or another: “You really need to do something about your price.” Unfortunately, not many salespeople truly understand WHY the buyer is saying this. In many cases, the buyers tell us that they see no appreciable difference in our products, the support we offer, or the companies we represent. This leaves them with no basis for a decision other than price. Many times, what they are really saying is, “I think you and your competitors are basically the same. So all I have to decide on is price.”

Does this mean we need to “do something” about our price? Not necessarily. In fact, these buyers may have some ideas about what would make one option better in terms of the product, support, and company that provides it. They may have a clear picture of the BEST alternative and may even be willing to pay a premium to get it.

However, we don’t yet know what that picture looks like, and we haven’t demonstrated that we can provide it.

Get the Picture

We all use buyer’s criteria to make decisions, whether it’s for something as complex and expensive as a car or as simple and relatively inexpensive as a loaf of bread. I will even be so bold as to say we ALWAYS have criteria in at least three areas: product, support/company, and price. Moreover, we rarely buy anything, including a loaf of bread, based solely on price.

You may be shaking your head and insisting that you do buy bread based on price, but hear me out on this. Unless you are a rare person who buys all of your bread from the “day old store,” you don’t purchase bread on price.

How the Most Basic Purchase Decision Is Made

We determine that we need a loaf of bread and then head to a specific store (often based on support characteristics such as selection and/or location). And when we get there, we select a particular loaf of bread (based on specific product characteristics). Does that mean we don’t care about the price? Of course not. If you find that your preferred loaf is suddenly $150 instead of $1.75, you will likely move on to another option.

This is really no different from what your buyers do when evaluating your offering. They began by determining (either on their own or with the assistance of a salesperson) that they have a need for something they believe you can provide. From there, they may even have formulated a picture of what would make one option better than the others.

If we want to differentiate ourselves from other alternatives, we must get a clear picture from them of what is BEST. I’ll take this a step further by saying that it is our obligation to go past their basic needs to understand what the buyer’s criteria will be to decide which solution is BEST in terms of product, support/company, AND price.

Think about this: Wouldn’t it be great to know how the customer/prospect will decide what is BEST in terms of all these areas before we ever spend time putting together and presenting a proposal? Let’s face it, any loaf of bread can be used to make a sandwich. But for a buyer, one will be a better overall choice — and it usually won’t be the cheapest loaf they can buy!

From Need to Criteria

If we are going to bring value to our buyers, we must get beyond needs and develop criteria. Keep this in mind, a need is a requirement, and a criterion is a standard of judgment, rule, or evaluation principle. Needs can be transformed into criteria, if we can help the buyer define what would make one alternative better with respect to a particular need. Not only does developing clear, differentiating criteria help us better understand how to demonstrate value and win, it helps our buyers develop more comfort with their decision. When we do this, we become trusted advisors our buyers will depend on for years to come.

It’s time to stop the “sameness” routine and understand how your prospect will determine what is best so that you can demonstrate that you are!

Want to learn more? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

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