The Industrial Purchasing Decision

The Industrial Purchasing DecisionThere is a major stumbling block that stops the industrial purchasing decision dead in its tracks. As always, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. If your goal is to convert more prospects into customers you need to help them overcome their aversion to committing to an industrial purchasing decision. The trick is to know the real underlying problem and what to do about it.

I think most any industrial marketing professional can easily see the value in creating an awareness of needs in the minds of their prospects. After all, if prospects don’t know they have problems then why would they change? Conversely, if they don’t know how they could dramatically (and perhaps easily) increase the odds of meeting their aspirations then why would they change?

You might be surprised to discover a fairly significant percentage of your prospects are quite aware they have problems that need to be solved or that there are ways they could more easily meet their aspirations. Yet they still balk in moving forward when making an industrial purchasing decision.


If your early stage marketing is restricted to doing nothing more than increasing awareness of needs you are missing out on a key piece of the puzzle. When it comes to your prospects it’s important to realize that being aware of a challenge and being willing to change are two very different things.

Awareness of needs is important, but if you can’t get your prospects to see the costs of remaining with the status quo and the value in leaving the status quo behind many of your prospects will choose to do—nothing. The industrial purchasing decision remains a no-decision. For this reason it’s important your early stage industrial marketing and selling practices reflect the fact that you are ultimately selling change.

Why should I change?
This is the first question your prospect needs to have answered. As I have said for ages to my industrial marketing consulting clients, “Change is great, you go first.” Many of us are hard-wired to resist change and will do nearly anything to maintain the status quo. One look at people who stay in abusive relationships is about all the evidence you need of this truth. Prospects who endure all kinds of frustration by “living with” substandard solutions (sometimes for years) are another example of status quo addiction.

You need to be mindful that change is ultimately a cost benefit decision. If the perceived cost of making the change exceeds the perceived benefits of doing so the status quo will remain. So the first step to selling change is to provide your prospects with a positive picture of the future once they have changed the status quo.

What will happen if I don’t change?
The next step is actually quite easy. What needs to be explained is that if your prospects don’t leave the status quo it will take longer (and cost more) to reduce or eliminate a painful situation or to reach an aspiration. In effect if they continue with the status quo all that is negative about the status quo will remain the status quo!

How can I make the change?
You may be able to get your prospects to see why they should change and the consequences of not changing but you are only two-thirds of the way there. Your prospects will resist change if they do not understand how to change. Some of them may mistakenly think that what is, in fact, a relatively small change will be exceedingly difficult. You need to show them the way.  I recommend you provide prospects with a fairly detailed outline of the key steps necessary to implement change, seek their input, gain their understanding, and get their buy-in.

Andrew Shedden

Andrew is the president of Broadfield Communications. When he's not working he likes reading history and biographies. He enjoys classic cars, music, and everything about rural settings. He loves to travel the world.