What if you could talk to a customer about purchasing new equipment and not ever mention price? Unfortunately, that will probably never happen, but there are lots of ways to make price secondary, says Jan Johnson of the Landmark Performance Group

“A customer makes a purchase when they perceive value is equal to or greater than the money they are going to part with. What do they value such that they are going to part with more money? Each dealer has to find that out for themselves,” she says.

Landmark Performance Group of Minneapolis, Minn., is a consulting group that specializes in the outdoor industries. The group works in the area of sales growth, sales force maximization, dealer development and other areas.

Johnson says three things influence a purchasing decision:

  1. Brand image: How has the product established itself as delivering customer value?
  2. Product performance and features: Does the product do what the customer needs it to do and in a way they like to do it?
  3. Service: Does the dealer take care of them in a way that they can’t see doing business with anyone else?

“All of those questions should be answered with continuous feedback from the customer,” Johnson says. And, dealers also need to factor in things like the impression a dealership gives to customers when they first enter the store and their experience while in the store. For instance, one customer told her they were working with a salesperson and he interrupted their conversation to take a call — and the call lasted 20 minutes. 

“Dealers have a tendency to underestimate the impact of little things on a customer’s impression of the dealership,” Johnson says. The bottom line: “Price is a decision maker in the absence of all other factors.” 

So, there’s the key: Find those other factors that will overshadow price. Johnson emphasizes the idea of education over selling, which many of you already do. In fact, she says that dealers she has worked with have increased sales by as much as 15% by having a mower demonstration area. 

Another strategy is a little more complicated, but worth the effort. She says, “Rural lifestylers are looking for a community of like-minded people. The more a rural lifestyle dealer can create a community among its customers, the more the transaction moves to an emotional place of belonging.”

To get a little more theoretical, Johnson suggests comparing the buying process to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (See accompanying charts.) She equates the final purchase decision to helping the rural lifestyler feel part of something greater than themselves. 

Whether or not you dig into the psychological analysis behind a purchase decision, there’s no doubt that tapping into emotion and making a connection increase the chances for a sale. Challenge your salespeople to make every lost sale a learning experience and understand why they got bogged down in price or missed the chance to make an emotional connection. 


Understanding emotional needs, such as through comparisons to Albert Maslow’s theory of the Hierarchy of Needs, may help increase sales.