8 years ago
April 13, 2016

Understanding the Buyer Position

There are a few things to consider when you endeavor to understand the buyer position.

Rhys Metler

Few things determine a salesperson’s ability to influence a potential buyer more than their ability to empathize and consider the buyer position. In fact, a study at Harvard Business School pinned empathy for the customer as a trait found in almost all top sellers across all industries.

So just what DO buyers want when they look at a product? There are a few things to consider when you endeavor to understand the buyer position, but perhaps the most important is the five-stage purchase process and how you can influence it.

Need Recognition and Problem Awareness

All purchases begin with the customer realizing they have a problem or need. They may or may not have an awareness of products or services that can meet the need at this point – if not, they’ll find out in the second phase.

A sales person who understands the value of what they are selling and the buyer position can ‘force’ this first stage given the right opportunity and the right campaign, telling the buyer they have a problem or need they didn’t know about and how to solve it.

Information Seeking

Unless the need which arose in the first stage is particularly strong and a solution close at hand, the next stage in the process is seeking information on solutions. Here, your brand saturation and reputation is put to the test. Customers with the time to do so will ask people they know, read reviews in magazines and online, get hands-on time with the product or service, and look for anything else that might give them insight into the solution you are offering.

Personal sources count more to people than the opinions in magazines or the commercial advertisements, so a good reputation counts. From the buyer position, a coworker or family member’s word counts more than any public or private entities opinion–it even counts more than the facts.

Investigate Alternatives

Customers taking more risk put in more evaluative effort. The bigger the risk financial or otherwise involved in a purchase, the more likely they will investigate alternatives. If you aren’t positioned in the market such that you will be the first option a potential buyer comes across, you will often be targeting this stage of the cycle (or, in some cases, the very last one).

A salesperson should consider the buyer position carefully and understand where to focus their efforts based on where in these first three stages their particular product or service can best apply pressure to secure a sale.


There’s not much to be said about this, but the purchase is not the end-a salesperson considering the buyer position should understand what follows.

Evaluate Purchase

It has been well-shown by research on the buying process that customers are prone to near-instant regret and self-doubt. This leads to the customer selecting an alternative for their next purchase.

A salesperson or marketing team that forgets buyer position after the point of sale can throw away the potential for repeat sales. Customers should feel confident moving into their purchase and should be reassured that they have made the correct decision afterward-here honesty in advertising plays a role, as a product which fails to fulfill its promises will fare poorly in evaluation even if it meets the original buyer need.

Now that you know…

With a little empathy and an understanding of the research behind purchases, understanding the buyer position at any given time should be simple. We’ve all been in the buyer position before–with a bit of objective context, we can figure out how our own purchases have been shaped and apply that knowledge.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.