Understanding Buyer’s Goal Orientation Key to Understanding Why Buyers Buy


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The concept of goals has been around for centuries.  Humans have endeavored to achieve goals for a variety of mundane pursuits to noble purposes.  Here is what Aristotle had to say over 2,000 years ago:

“All men seek a goal—success or happiness.  The only way to achieve true success is to express yourself completely in service to society. First, have a definite, clear, practical idea—a goal, an objective. Second, seek the necessary means to achieve your ends—wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”  – Aristotle

Today, in B2B marketplaces, we are seeing the rise of social media expand at a rate unexpected as we climb out of the financial crisis stupor markets found themselves in the past three years.  Amounting to as perhaps Aristotle might say if he were present today – a new means for people to achieve goals.  With all the chatter about social media, have we lost sight of this important and consistent fact about human behavior and choices?

Understanding buyer’s goal orientation has become even more critical as the means and methods to achieve them expand and diversify.  This is made more difficult for buyer’s articulation of goals is often times not precise or clear.  Here’s why:

  • In a business and organization context, the ability to express motivations, needs, and wants are based on current knowledge and experiences and thus much easier to express
  • Goals are bound in a future context and require that motivations, needs, and wants be translated into a goal orientation

Distinguishing a set of motivations, needs, and wants from a buyer’s goal orientation can make a significant difference in not only innovation but in aligning customer strategy with buyer goals.  Over the years, businesses have come up with many means and methods to attempt to understand buyer’s current status of motivations, needs, and wants.  Focus groups, online surveys, customer satisfaction questionnaires, win-loss analysis, needs analysis, customer advisory groups, user groups, competitive intelligence, and more to name a few.  All can offer helpful information and insight into how to better meet the needs of customers.

To deeply understand why buyers buy requires a deep understanding of buyer’s goal orientation.  Attaining such a deep understanding is no easy task but the use of qualitative and experiential analysis rooted in anthropological principles offers the best means for this understanding.  Buyer personas – more importantly the buyer persona development process versus buyer persona profiling – are a means for acquiring this understanding of buyer’s goal orientation and serving as a means to help businesses understand why buyers buy.  Enlightened with this deeper understanding, B2B businesses are enabled to develop customer strategies that are aligned with buyer’s goal orientation.

As we see the rise in different means and methods, such as digital and social communities, understanding buyer’s goal orientation not only will become increasingly important but will be increasingly difficult to understand.  The buyer persona development process is a means for conducting sound experiential analysis with buyers that reveal the deep insights into buyer’s goal orientation.   In turn, businesses will be able to make sense of the many new means and methods evolving today and determine how to produce the appropriate mix that best meet their buyer’s goals. 

Image via Wikipedia

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tony Zambito
Tony is the founder and leading authority in buyer insights for B2B Marketing and Sales. In 2001, Tony founded the concept of "buyer persona" and established the first buyer persona development methodology. This innovation has helped leading companies gain a deeper understanding of their buyers resulting in revenue performance. Tony has empowered Fortune 100 organizations with operationalizing buyer personas to communicate deep buyer insights that tell the story of their buyer. He holds a B.S. in Business and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management.


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