As a salesman how would you trace the buying motive of a customer?


According to Prof. D.J. Duncan, “Buying motives are those influences or considerations which provide the impulse to buy, induce action or determine choice in the purchase of goods or services.”

In the words of Walter Storvath, “Behind every sale, there is always a buying motive. But that motive is never merely to own or possess the article in question. It is, on the other hand, always the prospect’s belief that the ownership of the article will satisfy some specific desire on his or her part.”

The main object of a salesman is to induce the prospect to make a purchase. For this reason, the salesman must have a thorough knowledge about the human psychology. The knowledge of human nature is the best asset for a salesman. The salesman would find his work easier if he acquires a basic knowledge of the buying motives of the prospects.


By the influence of certain mental and economic forces, people buy articles. These mental and economic forces create desires or want in the minds of these persons. The prospects think that their wants or desires can be satisfied by the articles presented by the salesman. ‘Motive’ is the strong feeling, urge, instinct, drive, desire, stimulus, thought, emotion that make the buyer to react in the form of decision to purchase. A person buys not because he has been persuaded but he wants to possess the article concerned. A desire is based on some instinct or buying motive.

In simple meaning, by the word ‘motive’ it is meant that which induces a person to act in a particular ways as power causes a machine to move. Electricity causes a lamp to give light. Likewise, motives induce persons to act in different ways. Motives are urges or prompting that are responsible for human behavior. Accordingly hunger is the motive urging a man to look out for food. Love of self- preservation is a motive causing him to build a house for living safely. Buying motives are motives which urge persons to buy things. For example, patriotism may be a motive for buying goods made in the country. Vanity makes a man buy things that others do not have. Affection for children may be responsible for buying many goods that children want. Patriotism, vanity and affection are buying motives which are present in the mind of the customers but not in the product. The intelligent salesman must make a careful study of the motives which induce a person to respond favorably to the ideas presented by the salesman. Then interest will be aroused and eventually a sale will take place.

The following factors will be helpful to the salesman in knowing the motives of the customers:

(a) The article asked for


From the inquiries made by the customer regarding the type of commodities to be shown to him, salesman may infer whether his motive is possession or saving. If a person asks for cheaper things and goes on haggling, his motive may be a wish to buy economically. If one looks for children’s things, the motive may be affection. If rare and curious things are asked for, the motive may be curiosity.

(b) Nature of the questions asked for and ideas expressed- “Have you imported colours?”-motive

Desire for using qualitative things.

“I want at least two first class books on statistics.”-Motive-spirit of emulation or ambition. The student wants to shine.


(c) Fore – Knowledge

Long acquaintance with customers reveals the nature of their whims, fancies, preferences, character, moods, desires, activities and many other facts. From these, motives can be grasped.

(d) Brass and demeanor

Paying capacity is sometimes indicated by dress and demeanor. Dress gives an idea of liking for fashion. Demeanors suggest dominant motives.

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