This post is modified from an article originally published on Forbes. You can read the original here.

Imagine this scenario: You’re the owner of a small bookstore and a new customer comes in to check out your store. They browse a few areas and finally stop at your new releases. You can tell they’re excited as they pick up a number of books, looking for just the right one.

You know you’ve just won the sale. You can feel it in your gut. Then, out of nowhere, they put their books down, smile at you, and walk out without purchasing anything. 

What just happened?

This scenario plays out countless times each week across every business sector. B2B, B2C, it doesn’t matter. Customers are getting harder and harder to win over.

AdobeStock_269402993Chances are, you’re experiencing this frustration right now in your business. Your company’s products and services are what your customers want. They’re the best option available. So why do so many customers fail to pull the purchase trigger even though they show great interest?

I believe the answer lies in how the product was psychologically positioned to your potential customer. More specifically, you unintentionally failed to show how their core human desire would be met if they bought and used your brand, which is known as “motivational fit.”

Throughout my time researching motivational and behavioral psychology, I determined there are nine psychological motivations that create nine total desires, and when you position your offering as a way to reach these desires, you have the perfect recipe to convert shoppers into buyers.

Below you’ll see the link between a person’s motivation and their desire to feel a specific feeling.

  • If a person is driven by achievement, they desire success.
  • Similarly, someone who is driven by autonomy seeks freedom or uniqueness.
  • The drive to belong reflects desires for acceptance.
  • The drive to be competent reflects desires for mastery.
  • The drive to be empowered reflects desires for control.
  • The drive to be engaged reflects desires for captivation or release.
  • The drive to be esteemed reflects desires for respect.
  • The drive to be nurtured reflects desires for love or care.
  • The drive to be secure reflects desires for safety.

If you’ve read the book Marketing to Mindstates, this is something you know well. You’ve likely already spent time thinking about what your customers’ mindstates may be. You may even believe you’re targeting the right mindstate in the right way.

But somewhere down the line, something went wrong. The positioning is off. You cast out your line, but no one’s biting.

Say you’re in the real estate industry. Buying a home is one of the most expensive and emotional purchases most people make, but a deal can collapse if a home-shopper isn't ready to commit and turn into a buyer.

So how can you convert these motivated shoppers into buyers? Although I'm not a real estate expert, based on my experience with behavioral research and design, I believe framing the house as a way to meet a core desire can help. 

Here are my recommendations on how to do it.


Step 1: Ask for requirements.

During your initial meeting, ask the shopper about their basic requirements for the home. 

How many bedrooms and bathrooms do they want? What's their desired lot size? What are they looking for in terms of garage capacity, age of the home and more? 

Along with sharing their requirements, ask them to explain why those criteria are collectively important to them. This is the key step businesses in every industry often forget to do. 

Without identifying the why driving their behavior, you can’t accurately select the mindstate customers are in when they make a purchase.

Step 2: Listen to their desires.

As they share their criteria and why it’s important, listen for one of the nine core desires that they hope they will reach with the purchase of a home (or whatever product or service you offer). 

The nine desires are to feel: successful, free, accepted, a sense of mastery, control, captivated, admired, loved, or safe.

There are key phrases to pay attention to that can help you quickly and efficiently identify your customers’ desires. Check out the Mindstate Marketing Masterclass to learn what these types of phrases are.

Step 3: Frame the homes that fit.

This is where the magic happens. Find homes that match their requirements, but think about how the specific features of that home or neighborhood will fit with their core desire.

For example, you might have a buyer who desires safety. This desire for safety links directly to the security motivation. As you present each house, focus on how secure the neighborhood is, that neighbors look out for one another or that it’s a new build, so there will be no surprises and no high-cost breakdowns. 

There are a lot of possible ways to talk about the houses, but this “safety frame” will uniquely fit the desires of the buyer.

Here’s another example: If during their conversation the home-shopper talked about how their new house could bring family and friends together, you could surmise they desire acceptance. This, in turn, tells you they are motivated by the belonging motivation. 

So, as you present houses to them, frame as many features as you can as a way to increase their ability to belong. For example, you could frame common features in this way: The large kitchen that’s great for hosting family at the holidays, the pool that they can invite the neighbors to enjoy, or all the various community events and clubs they could be part of should they move there.

In both scenarios, the house and neighborhood are what they are; you’re not misrepresenting them or making anything up. You’re positioning each in a way that aligns with your client’s real desires and making sure that the home will allow for these to manifest in the future.

You can apply these same insights to B2B or other B2C businesses as well. Once you have identified the mindstate your customer is in, positioning your product or service in alignment with that mindstate is the best way to help customers break out of the window shopping phase and into purchasing.

Think about the lottery. When most people win, they want the money right away—even if it’s a smaller amount than the alternative. Why? Because the value of a big lump sum of money now feels more immediate. The rewards are immediate. 

So you are genetically designed to focus more on the immediate needs. It all goes back to our ancestors, who had to focus on the “right now” in order to survive.

Transform Shoppers into Buyers

Every purchase that is ever made has an underlying motivation and desired feeling that pushed the shopper into becoming a buyer. If you want to move more of your customers from shoppers to happy buyers, look to frame your brand, product or service in a way that fits your audience's core desire.

By focusing on your customer's desires, you will make the purchase feel clear and compelling and move many from considering you to choosing you. In other words: They’ll walk out of your bookstore with a new book in hand.

It doesn’t matter how often you’ve been in the business or how much time you spend on positioning your product or service. If you target the wrong mindstate, you’ll continue to struggle with indecisive customers, roller coaster revenue, and frustrated team members.

So how can you ensure you’re doing it right the first time? You may need to do a psychological “brand refresh.”

Get the Mindstate Marketing Masterclass. This cost-effective solution is designed to help businesses of all shapes and sizes:

  • Correctly identify your customers’ mindstates
  • Tweak your messaging and visuals to appeal to that mindstate
  • Use behavioral science to increase your sales and your confidence

The video course is just $799, and considering how much stress and lost revenue it could save you, it’s worth every penny. Click the button below to get started.

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Topics: Shopper, Sales, Motivation, Business Owners