Why Did You Buy? A Deceivingly Important Question To Ask Clients?


Whenever we sell a product or service, we forget an important question. The question: Why did you buy? So why is this question so very important?

It’s important for several reasons

1) It validates the purchase decision

2) It gives you an understanding into the trigger

3) You can manage expectations better

First let’s start with the purchase decision

Whenever we buy something, we’re usually faced with a bit of buyer’s remorse. This buyer’s remorse kicks in, while higher in a pressure situation, nonetheless shows up in a low-pressure situation as well.

And in asking the client why they bought a product/service or a course, you’re asking them to write down their reasoning.

The purchase moment is very emotional

While all of us give a logical explanation why we bought into a product, the reality is that the purchase is emotion-based.

We know this to be true, because if two people offered exactly the same product/service, you’d choose one over the other, purely on emotion.

But there’s logic too. And when customers write back, they give you both the logic and the emotion. And in doing so, they confirm to themselves that they’ve made the right decision.

It’s one thing to think about making the right choice. When you write it down, you really have to think it through. And that makes a customer more likely to ratify their decision to buy.

This is no doubt good for you, as a seller. However it’s also great for the customer, because once they’re clear about why they bought a product/service, it strengthens their resolve to consume it. And when they consume it, they get greater value from their purchase.

If that were the only reason, that would be reason enough. But there’s a second reason as well and it’s called “the trigger”.

So what’s the trigger all about?

When we write sales copy, we’re not exactly sure which part of the copy resonated most with the customer. And yet, when you get a response from your customers, you’ll find there’s a sort of clumping up towards certain points.

You’ll find over time, that customers seem to be repeating the same thing over and over again. And that “same thing” may well be in your headline. Or it might not.

Take for instance, a book on “how to buy a car”

This marketer was sure that he’d done all the testing possible. But just for the heck of it, decided to ask clients why they bought the book. And there, in the middle of his bullet points, was the prime reason.

They bought the book because he was “showing them how to buy a car at $50 over the dealer’s price”.

That information alone was worth the price of the book many times over.

But the marketer wasn’t aware of the power of that bullet point. Once he was aware, he could take that bullet point and move it to the headline—thus ensuring even greater sales.

And when you ask for the trigger, customers will come up with other reasons too…

For example, when we asked customers why they signed up for the Info-products workshop, here are some of the points.

- What should be in our “Company bible’?

- How to systematically break that down into information products.

- Where do we start?

- What’s the process that we can follow?

- How do we know what people will pay for and how much they will pay?

- What’s the best way to test before we build?

- Where to start and stop and how to know when it’s time to break off into a new product?

- How to put the information together so it’s helpful and people want more.

I don’t know if you noticed, but that list reads amazingly like bullets

Or potential features and benefits.

And once you have an insight into what the customer really wants, you can go back to your sales page and check if you’ve covered these points.

You would also need to write at least a few e-mails or leaflets to sell your product or service. The points you receive from your client can be the basis of future e-mails and leaflets.

But there’s a third point why “why did you buy?” is important

The third reason is simply to manage expectations

Remember when you visited a foreign country?

You read all the books, saw tons of photos and yet, when you got there, it was somehow different.

I remember going to the Taj Mahal in Agra when I was about 18 years old. I’d seen photos of the Taj, hundreds of times. Yet, when I was there, it was so much bigger, so much fancier than I’d expected.

And your product can be fancier or less fancier than clients expect.

The problem is often not rooted in the content

It’s rooted instead, in the expectations. Once a client gets to the end of a service, or reads through a product and doesn’t find what they want, they feel cheated.

They’ve spent time and money—but mostly a ton of energy. And they’re less likely to be trusting of your products and services in future.

And you really want them to trust you wholeheartedly.

This is why you need to ask the question

The question brings up their needs and you can either head it off at the pass or include it in your material.

Heading it off at the pass, is not easy. You have to let the client know that the results they seek will not be available. And you let them know what they’re going to get, instead.

Often a client is very happy with the fact that you’ve taken the time to speak to them, and whether they decide to go ahead or not, they will retain that positive memory of you in future. And trust will be gained.

Sean D'Souza


15+ years ago, fresh out of college with a degree in accounting Sean de Souza joined an advertising agency where he *met* Leo Burnett, a man who had spent his lifetime in the hard trenches of communication and advertising.

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