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Buyers Make Emotional Decisions and Justify Them Later

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Buyers don’t make logical, rational buying decisions. They make emotional decisions and then justify those decisions by rationalizing them after the fact. This is true even if they use a spreadsheet to evaluate suppliers and solutions.

This is why you must develop the trusted relationships that put you in front of the buying process and in front of a deal.

Your price is higher than your competitors. When they evaluate you against your competitors, you lose in the price column. Suddenly the weighting changes because you are the one trusted to deliver the results—but only if you were there and developed the relationships that make you trusted. Trust isn’t easy to capture on a spreadsheet, and it’s unlikely the word even appears in a column.

Your solution isn’t as strong as your competitors. They are way larger than you, they have more resources available, and their solution is probably the best in the business. But your buyer looks at the offering and says, “I don’t know if we are big enough for these guys to care about us.” The reason you buyer is more comfortable with you and your solution is because you have proven that you care about them, and caring isn’t something that easily scales. The weighting changes, and you win—but only if you’ve proven you care enough to help them get the results they need. Things like “caring” don’t appear in the column either.

When you have relationships, you have access to the people and the information you need to make changes that allow you to win. If your dream client wants you to win, they share with you the information that allows you to make the changes to move you and your solution to the pole position. That’s not logical or rational; it’s emotional.

Why would your buyer do this? Why would they change their decision weighting or give you a chance to make changes? Because trust matters. Because relationships matter. Because caring matters.

If you have sold for any amount of time at all, you’ve been the beneficiary of buyers that have purchased emotionally and justified their decision after the fact. You’ve had deals go your way even when you lost on a spreadsheet. You have also been the victim of a buyer who made the decision for another salesperson even when you clearly had the best solution.

We buy emotionally, and we justify those decisions after the fact. You may not be able to change what the results look like on the spreadsheet, but you can change the result by changing your relationship with the people looking at the spreadsheets.


When you buy something, do make a logical, rational decision? Or do you make an emotional decision and justify it after the fact? (if you answer this incorrectly and you’re married, just answer the question about your spouse and you’ll discover the right answer).

What are the factors that buyers use to make decisions that never show up on a spreadsheet?

How much do intangibles matter when buyers make a decision?

What do you have to do to put yourself in the position to be chosen even if the deal ends up being decided on a spreadsheet?

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  6. […] our financial decision making is not in our intent, but in our focus. Most financial decisions are emotional decisions.  We all have wants, desires, fears, insecurities and habits that drive much of our […]

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