11 Common Motives Used by Salesmen in their Sales Talk

Common motives used by salesmen in their sales talk are given below:

(1) Fear

A salesman selling life assurance may utilise the motive of love for the family and loyalty, but the chief motive would be fear. An insurance salesman should not hide this motive from the prospect but should so parade it by emphasizing on the uncertainty of human life and the absolute necessity of protecting one’s loved ones.



A salesman must therefore find out the fears involved. It maybe fear of death, fear of loss, fear for the future, fear of poverty, fear of obscurity, or fear of social ostracism.

Tactful sales talk bringing the appropriate “fear” into prominence would motivate the prospect into immediate action. Fear is a very important motive in that it could sell not only all types of insurance, vitamin pills, burglar alarms, but almost anything.

(2) Profit or Cupidity:

This motive is very closely related to the desire for personal adequacy as a person wants money in order to satisfy his other desires. Money by itself is of little value as it only becomes important when it is spent.

The salesman must therefore show the customer as to what can be done with the money to be made or saved by purchasing the salesman’s goods or ideas.

This motive has two phases, viz. (1) to make money or (2) to save money. To make profit or to save money is a universal desire. It induces persons to go around shops so that they may make their money go further.

The first phase of the motive, viz. to make money, is positive, whereas the latter, viz. to save money, is negative. Customers of the first class are ready to spend money in order to get more money. They are not of the miser variety. To them making money is a competitive sport.

They are also more willing to take a chance than the latter type who wants to save money. The outlook of the latter is narrower and more cautious. Business to them is not a sport but is a means by which more money could be collected.

Profit as a buying motive is therefore to be found in the largest types of sales. The importance of this motive being recognised is clearly evidenced by the prevalence of price advertising and bargaining.

The dealer purchases goods to resell them to the consumer and thereby make a gain. Dealers are in business to make money and are therefore always interested in information which would assist them to make gains. The manufacturer purchases expensive labour saving appliances in order to cut down the cost of production and thereby increase his profits.

This motive however is not confined only to dealers and manufacturers. It sells investments. It sells almost everything in a secondary way for price is really the profit manifestation of all purchases. Every customer wants his money’s worth.

Take the example of genuine ‘sale’ offers such as that of Bombay Dyeing which offered the attractive discount of 20 percent on quality materials. These appeals to ‘cupidity’ or ‘bargain making’ motive of the customer, or the desire to get “more than the money’s worth”.

At their bargain basement, Bombay Dyeing’s sales (in July 1970) skyrocketed from the normal range (of Rs. 12,000 to Rs.15, 000) to as much as Rs.50, 000 to Rs.60, 000 per day.

The rush has particular significance in that this happened at a time when the market for textiles in general at the wholesale and retail levels was distinctly slack. Those who were attracted by the discounts also purchased ‘non-sale’ items the sales of which doubled during the period.

(3) Vanity

Vanity is a motive which plays very important part in the life of all human beings. The parent who strives to make his child like himself is actuated by vanity.

A dealer in automobiles placed in front of the mirror always sold the quickest. The dealer on giving this observation sufficient consideration realised that the reason was vanity.

The prospect who sat at the wheel saw him in the mirror and was so pleased with the improved effect the car had on him that he bought the car. This American dealer capitalized on this fortunate observation by placing mirrors all round his showroom and thereby considerably increased his sales.

(4) Pride

Pride in personal appearance is equaled by pride in accomplishment or attainment of high business or social position. Every individual has a desire to feel important, be appreciated or complimented. This is a powerful motive which sells all style merchandise.

This desire to feel important and receive recognition of their importance leads persons to do things because society has laid down certain behaviour as correct.

Several surveys have disclosed that old customers were lost because of the indifference of salesmen. Another way of putting this would be that the customer was lost because the salesman did not make the customer feel important and thus wounded his ego.

This happens on the slightest provocation of the salesman, such as lack of promptness in coming to greet the customer. Certain persons wish to make their own decisions and the salesman should be tactful with such customers and should suggest rather than dictate.

The salesman should present his ideas in such a way as to make the customer feel that they were those of him. The customer should be made feel that he himself has done the purchasing and that he has made an intelligent and wise decision.

(5) Fashion

Closely related to the motive of pride is that of fashion. Fashion is at times described as the tax imposed by the clothing trade on vanity or as the fantastic becoming universal.

This desire to copy others and do the right thing according to their imagination or to gain admiration of others by so doing is a motive which sells good clothes, expensive cars and numerous articles from tooth brushes to shoe-laces.

Fashion is based on crowd psychology. This motive is sometimes also described as the limitation motive and is closely linked up with pride or desire for importance.

The young man purchases the latest style of sports clothes, the young girl has hair the like motive stars and the businessman installs a well-known cooling system or the latest filing system in his office in their attempt to show superiority over the common crowd.

(6) Sex or Romance

Sex is a very important motive in the case of sale of articles such as fancy clothes, cosmetics, ministrations’ beauty parlours and tickets to dances.

In the absence of sex little interest would remain in style for men or women. It cannot be denied that women spend money on clothes, hairdos and cosmetics in order to appeal to men. Neither can it be concealed that men dress their best so that they may appeal to women.

The motive sex can thus sell almost anything-lipsticks, corsets, hats or motorcars. A person may constantly struggle to retain his hair on his head or his figure in the hope that romance will come to him.

(7) Love or Affection for Others

This appeal is in contrast to the one just discussed. It is an unselfish motive. Many men can be motivated into immediate action by an appeal to their sense of duty or love for the family or their desire to be of service to humanity.

The motive affection plays an important part when the parent purchases for his child or member of his family various articles such as children’s food, toys, dresses and life assurance. The insurance salesman utilizes this motive and induces the prospect to protect his loved ones by purchasing a policy of insurance.

(8) Physical Well-being or Health

The sale of articles such as health food, vitamin pills, patent medicines, weight lifting sets and reducing belts are due to this motive.

(9) Comfort is Convenience

Although money cannot buy happiness, with money one can be unhappy in comfort. Comfort and convenience is a very important motive in connec­tion with the sale of luxury articles such as automobiles, furniture, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and various other articles.

It is an undisputed fact that the human being is lazy. A person would rather sit if lounge chair than walk. He would prefer a soft mattress to a hard one. He would rather go to his office in an automobile than by bus.

He would rather use a washing machine than do it with his bare hands. In warm countries he wants a cooling system and in cold countries a heating system.

(10) Curiosity

A woman’s curiosity is almost as great as man’s. Curiosity is described by psychologists as a desire for new experience. Persons go to new places, do new things and travel in order to obtain from life new thrills. “News” satisfies curiosity and the salesman utilizes this motive by saying to that effect that the article is the “latest thing on the market”.

The article must however not be emphasized as being too new as the human mind can adapt itself to changes very slowly. This motive of curiosity is very useful to a salesman at the initial stages as it enables him to claim the attention of his prospect.

(11) Habit

Habit is a very important motive for the salesman as about three-fourths of the purchases are due to habit. Out of habit, a person smokes a certain brand of cigarettes or drinks a certain make of liquor or has his clothes tailored in a certain shop.

This does not mean that if the salesman is selling goods of a brand which the particular customer is not habituated to purchase, the salesman cannot make him change his brand with tactful and persuasive salesmanship.

A salesman should seek to change the habit of the particular customer and if the customer is satisfied with the change he will form the habit of buying this particular new brand of cigarettes sold by him.

Submitted by : Dr. Jayce, Category : Salesmanship