Why People Really Buy From You or Join Your Business

Why People Really Buy From You or Join Your Business

In this post I write about the psychology behind why people really buy–the psychology of influence.   
Have you ever been sitting across from a prospect who you are dying to share your business with?  I have a few clients who are network marketers and they have shared how they find themselves trying to read the prospect's expression as they take her through their presentation, highlighting all the benefits of their products and opportunity and what it could do for her. They wonder what she is thinking– if she is bored or excited.  Have you had a similiar experience?  I have.
What if you really did know what was going on in the minds of your prospects? What if you knew, perhaps even more than your prospects, what is important to them and what would motivate them to buy your products or join your team? Could that give you the edge in presenting your business in the best possible light? Of course it would.  If you know how people make decisions and what drives their actions and behaviors, you will have a lot more influence with them.  I personally love this approach because it is all about influence–where you don’t have to twist arms or be sales-y to inspire people to take action.
So what really drives our decisions and our actions? Are people all that complicated? Are we all that similar? why-people-really-buy-chess

What Drives Our Decisions and Actions?

Although humans are complex creatures, a great deal of our behavior is motivated by just two simple factors.  We make decisions and take action for both logical and emotional reasons. We experience the world using both our heads and our hearts and, consequently, use our intellect and emotions to guide us when making decisions and taking action.  For instance, as you are sitting at Starbucks speaking to your prospect, she is likely taking in what you are sharing on an intellectual or “logical” level. She is evaluating all the information presented about your products and/or business. She is weighing through the facts and the figures and deciding if she likes how it works and if it is something she could do. In simple terms, she is deciding if it all makes sense to her and if there’s real value in what you have to share. 
She is also being affected by your presentation on an emotional level. For example, she may love the idea of having her own business, imagining how great it would feel to be her own boss and have a lot more control over her work hours and her personal time. She may feel excited about the idea of partnering with you and being part of a supportive and synergistic team. She may also feel inspired by your confidence and sense of purpose, or for some reason your business just “feels right” to her on a gut level.
Of the two forces, which do you think ultimately has more impact on her decisions and actions? If you guessed “her emotions”, you are right on the money.  Emotion affects our behavior much more than logic.  This is true for both men and for women. If you doubt men are as emotional as women, just observe them during the Super Bowl playoffs. Men are just as emotional as women, but are often emotional about different things.  Emotion is a more primal, unconscious force that governs our actions and determines our decisions, most times without our conscious awareness. It’s not that we don’t have and use logic and common sense, but it is often our emotions that are driving the bus and are behind why people really buy.
Consider, for instance, your spending habits. Have you recently purchased something you either really didn’t need or couldn’t afford (or both) but you simply had to have it? Perhaps you splurged on a trendy new outfit or an expensive pair of shoes. When you tried them on, did you think to yourself “yes, these are very practical, a good sensible choice” or did you look admiringly in the mirror at your sexy new look, whip out your credit card and yell “Charge It!” before you could think twice?  I will admit I bought myself a dress recently, a little black one in fact. I already have too many dresses lined up in my closet, so I hardly need another. However, this black dress was cut in such a way that any lingering effects of my recent Godiva chocolate binges were well concealed. It was very flattering, and I felt great. I envisioned myself waltzing into a crowded room and all eyes turning.  Now the $580 price tag was a little hard to swallow.  Hey, what’s this? It is on sale at 50% off. Who in their right mind could pass up such a bargain? Not to mention it is such a classic style, I’ll be able to wear it for YEARS to come. Important note: like most of us, what drove my buying decision was EMOTION, and then I justified my actions and decisions with LOGIC.
The same could be true for any men reading this. If you have ever shelled out big bucks for a spiffy sports car or some-such toy, why did you? Well, obviously such a car makes good economic sense and is sound and reliable transportation, right? Hardly! Chances are when you get behind the wheel; driving such a machine makes you feel great. The speed, the design, the power – what a stud!  And of course, this car is really an investment. It is a classic, after all.  If it is well kept, it will maintain its value (at least this is how you attempt to explain such a purchase to your wife). Again, my point is that you are also buying for emotional reasons and then justifying your choice with logic.
I am being overly general and even a bit sexist, but you get the point. We are all greatly motivated by our emotions and we often buy things because of how they make us FEEL. This is an extremely important point for you to understand and remember if you want to influence people to buy your products and join your team, and to do this in a way that is very effective.

The Two Big Emotions That Drive All Our Actions

Simply put, there are two main emotions that drive our behavior: pain and pleasure. We instinctively avoid anything that is painful and move towards things we believe will give us pleasure.  For instance, if you are standing in the street and a bus is coming at you, you don’t need to stop and evaluate the situation.  You instinctively jump out of the way. Likewise, if you place your hand close to a hot stove, you have an immediate (even violent) response. These emotional reactions are instantaneous and unconscious. They are wired into our nervous system for our own survival. This need to quickly “move away from pain” keeps us safe and keep us alive.  The same is true for feelings of pleasure as well. If you are like me, you can logically reason with yourself that eating the entire box of Godiva chocolates will not be the healthiest choice you could make, but that doesn’t seem to stop my hand from continually reaching for them and devouring the lot. We are drawn to things or experiences that makes us feel good, even if it goes against our better judgment.
How does all this relate to selling and sponsoring? You can use this understanding of pain/pleasure to influence your own behavior and also influence the behavior of other people.  Ultimately. people buy your products or join your team for two big reasons:
  1. They see your product or business as a way to SOLVE a PROBLEM – or avoid some PAIN
  2. They see your product or business as a way to GET SOMETHING THEY WANT (a result, solution, experience) – or FEEL GOOD (pleasure!)
People will do more to AVOID PAIN than they will to GAIN PLEASURE.
As much as many of us don’t like to “focus on the negative” in life, if you want to influence people to take action (especially action that will change their lives for the better), you may have to use the persuasive power of pain to motivate them. Review the list of benefits you or your product provides and make them juicier by adding some painful emotions to each one.  Use these questions to get you thinking: What is the benefit people get by using my product(s)? What is the pain they also get to avoid at the same time?  If you have a meeting or presentation in the next few days, look for a way to use these messages while speaking to your prospects. Tune into the pain that your prospects want to avoid. Talk about how your products/service/business opportunity can help people solve this pain.  
About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.


  1. Hi Rachel,

    You nailed it! You have gotten to the heart of marketing which is emotion. People purchase more from emotion than their logic all the time.

    When we are writing a sales copy we need to hit those emotional points. The will feel good when they buy this, they feel bad already and it is going to change. We write to hit the emotions first and then give them the logic behind it.

    It took me a while to do this. I felt like it was something that was dishonest at first. But the more I studied marketing I did feel better about it.

    I have become so aware of this that wherever I go I see it. It is something funny once you are in tune with it all. Seeing it not only in business, but on a billboard, on TV, even radio. This is how people communicate in the marketing world. It is something that does work so why re-invent the wheel?

    Thanks for a lovely article.


  2. Very well said Rachel!

    And your point about men during playoff time, of any major sport, is
    definitely proof, of just how emotional we can be, whether money
    was wagered on the event or not!LOL!

    We often forget to include the two most persuasive motivators in our written or verbal

    Thanks for helping us get back on track!
    Mark recently posted…Why Profit Seeking Small Business Owners Should Learn A Great Marketing Lesson From Fiverr.com!My Profile

    • Hey Mark.  In the early days of my marriage, I used to watch how passionate my husband and his friends were about sports.  They were so emotional, I just KNEW they had money on the games.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that was rarely the case LOL.

  3. Yes, Rachel, we all love to avoid pain – find your client’s pain point, share how you can remove the pain, and you’re one step closer to making the sale. Good points also that we’re ruled by both head and heart – even when our closets are full

  4. Hi Rachel,

    Thank you for this post and pointing out so many important things that we need to be aware of when providing something that people “have to have.”

    Like Donna, above, I had the wrong perception of marketing; feeling as though I was being dishonest in some way. It’s just merely a different way to point out the benefits to the buyer of what you have to offer. It’s only dishonest if you create something that’s not there and try to convince them under false pretenses.

    Thanks again and have a great day.

  5. Agree with you 100% in this post, Rachel. Yes, people buy because of how they perceive something will make them “feel”. Their emotions drive them and books have been written about this, so marketers could learn to capitalize on it. In my experience, often when people “know” something will be good for them in relation to their health, they often still do not say “yes”, because they aren’t ready to give up their habits, even though the change would benefit them. When it comes to health, so often people wait until they are in so much “pain” that they can no longer avoid choosing something different. Pain is a great leveler, and hopefully we all are more inclined to choose pleasurable experiences than painful one. Food for thought again. Thanks!
    Beverley Golden recently posted…Health is Truly a Matter of Choice(s)My Profile

    • Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who are experiencing health risk, yet they still do not respect themselves enough to change their unhealthy lifestyle. I just cannot wrap my mind around that.

  6. Very insightful post, Rachel. Emotions really do trump logic every time! And I love the 2 reasons people buy a product. I think with my editing, it’s both–solving a problem and getting something they want. With my books, hm, that’s much more the second one–giving them pleasure. And if people buy much more for the first reason, I need to rethink how I market my fiction!
    Thanks for this!
    Susan Mary Malone recently posted…This Is Why I Write. Truth Is, It’s In My BonesMy Profile

  7. Interesting post. Yes, people run away from pain. I feel that solutions are what we are all looking for and through determining what the “pain” is, we will find what we are looking for, “the solution”. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Buying jewelry is often an emotional and impulse purchase. A woman sees a necklace and falls in love. Sometimes she will say , those colors go with that dress I’ve been searching for an accessory, or I have so many things this goes with, or it is my favorite colors. I haven’t found many pain points unless it satisfies a matching search. In this way, it is a solution. Interesting observations and great points.

    • As someone who owns a lot of jewelry, I can say that my purchases have always been emotional. Thank God that I am never trying to ‘match’ anything though (I don’t wear fashion/costume jewelry), because I’d have just that much more to contain.

  9. This is great, Rachel. My business coach has helped me tremendously in this area, teaching me to probe into people’s gap (what is lacking in their life) and their vision for their life, then presenting my solution.
    Carol Rundle recently posted…6 Spices to Improve and Maintain HealthMy Profile

  10. This is such great business advice and so true – people really do buy more from emotion than logic. It’s also true the urge to avoid pain will surpass the urge to gain pleasure, so how you present whatever you’re offering is crucial. Thank you for the excellent advice.

  11. Very clearly presented and a strong reminder to keep our focus. It takes practice, time and testing to get the expression of our solution right. I just keep fine-tuning

  12. Emotions rule a lot of decisions. This is a very practical article that helps a small business owner or hiring manager appeal to emotions that support their logical argument.

  13. Your exactly right Rachel, emotion is a bigger decision motivator than logic. Everyone wants to think they are making a logical decision but actually they are justifying what they have already decided on a deeper level. In fact, brain research shows decisions can be predictable based on the neuron activity that takes place before there is conscious awareness. One of the patterns the brain takes into account is previous emotional links. So, active listening and asking insightful questions can tell a lot about which way a potential customer’s brain is learning.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…The Business Benefits of DaydreamingMy Profile

  14. I certainly agree about the pleasure factor. Even if you’re selling necessities that people would rather not have to buy you can make your own products stand out.

    I don’t like having to replace broken items but when my kettle recently started leaking I found a shiny red one that fits in well with the rest of my bench-top items. I really like it so, like you with your little black dress, I justified my purchase.

    Although people do buy things that aren’t an absolute necessity, budgets do still dictate purchases. If you’re selling really expensive items you must find the right market for those. You mention the differences between male and female but there’s also age, country, and cultural considerations. I’m facing these dilemmas with an e-commerce site I bought. I need to do a lot of tweaking to the products because I know many of them won’t bring pleasure to the market I’m intending to sell to, however well I present them. Once I get all this sorted out your tips will be really useful. Thank You Rachel.
    Sue Bride recently posted…Divi Extra – My New ThemeMy Profile

  15. Hi Rachel 🙂

    What an awesome post! This is so true, we are motivated by either pain or pleasure and by making our copy filled with more “pain” points, it will actually get our prospects to buy MORE because that is what drives them the most 🙂

    Great share!
    Joan M Harrington recently posted…What Must Have Skill Do You Need To Be Successful In Your Business?My Profile

  16. Hi Rachel,
    A very well written article. I enjoyed it!
    People will do more to avoid pain, than to gain pleasure. This is very true.
    So focusing on the negative in their lives to get them to take action I always thought was not a nice thing to do, but then I learned all about sales. If you add how it can change their lives for the better, it’s a good thing.
    Adding pain emotions to your list of benefits with your product or service provides
    – Benefits people get by using it ….What is the pain they avoid in doing so and how this will help them.
    Being tuned into the pain your prospect is experiencing and how your product or service can help to solve this pain. This is why people will buy from you.

  17. Very interesting capture of these two main concepts. And, yes, of course you are right, one gets convinced to buy based on emotions.

  18. I have to agree with the part that emotions rule over logic most of the time while buying things. I am one of them and I buy most of the time with urge or emotion than logic. Nice informative post and enjoyed reading it 🙂 Have a great weekend Rachel 🙂

  19. Exactly! Finding the loop holes of the client’s business and filling it with pleasure definitely leads to a positive approach and half way to conversion. This is actually so very important in marketing. Cool post, very much worth reading.

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