In any business to customer (B to C) situation, there are four main factors that will influence a buyer’s decision to make the sale, and understanding these factors allows us to integrate them in our sales and marketing efforts. Leveraging these influential factors is what makes these efforts highly successful.

When we choose to buy something, we typically go through five stages from the initial thought right through to the actual purchase:

1. The recognition stage – We realise we have a problem that requires a solution or we recognise a desire for something.

2. The search stage – We begin to seek out the solution to our problem or desire. This usually takes the form of one or more products/services.

3. The comparison stage – At this point we have a number of options that need to be compared to determine which would best suit our requirements.

4. The decision stage – This is the point where we decide to make the purchase.

5. The after-purchase stage – Once we have purchased something, we begin to evaluate it. Sometimes it may not be suitable or we change our minds about the desire for it and we return it, or we might not be satisfied with the service and make a complaint. On the other hand, we may be completely happy and recommend the product/service to peers.

During each of these stages, there are four main factors that influence how we behave:

Cultural Factors

Cultural factors include the culture of the buyer, their subculture and their social class.

Culture and social class typically determine the values and decision processes of a consumer, so using these as the focus for sales and marketing efforts and considering their values in relation to the brand’s values and mission can have a great impact on success.

Social Factors

Social factors include the social groups that the consumers are associated with/members of in addition to their family, social status and roles in society.

These social factors often influence the buyer’s decision based on the opinions and values of the social groups and other influencers. Leveraging the influence of social factors in marketing and sales can be the difference between a whole market purchasing or not purchasing the product/service.

Personal Factors

Personal factors are variable, and include age, stage of lifecycle, career, financial position, lifestyle choices (interests and opinions, hobbies, etc.) and personality traits.

Personal factors are the most variable of the factors and often shift as a person progresses through their lifecycle.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors include perception, beliefs of the buyer, their learning and their attitudes.

These factors are the most susceptible to influence by sales and marketing efforts. The perception of the brand and its products/services can be changed with the right pitch or marketing campaign. The beliefs and attitudes of the buyer can be used to create a relatable campaign as well as being influenced and changed if needed.

Taking into account these four main influences on buyer behaviour when creating a business to customer sales pitch or marketing campaign will optimise success.

In a business to business (B to B) situation, the primary decision making process is driven by Risk Avoidance V Risk to Profits (Kraljic 1982), and a supplier can be defined in those terms. Also, analysis by the DMU ( Decision Making Unit) and their vary individual needs score high on the purchasing criteria.

If you are interested in learning more about the consumer decision making process and how to use well crafted sales and marketing efforts to drive success, then you may be interested in ISMM courses. The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) offer varying levels of sales and marketing qualifications for people at all stages of their career to gain further knowledge and progress their career.  If you would like to learn more about the sales and marketing courses we offer at Oxford College of Marketing, call (0)1865 515 255 or email You can also browse the courses on our website.