• James Purvis

The "3 Why's" In Sales

If you've been in sales for awhile, you probably have come across the "3 Why's" in sales; Why buy anything? Why buy from you? Why buy now? The "3 Why's" are critical because they are the three most important questions prospective customers must answer in order to justify a purchase of any sort.


This article will help you understand the psychology behind the 3 Why's and learn some best practices on how to best answer them. Let's get right into it...

As ethical sales professionals, we sincerely want to solve a problem for our customers and our customers trust the information we provide as a business to help make educated buying decisions. In Consumer Psychology, this is what is referred to as "The Learning Pathway" which consumer psychologist Dr. Ari Zelmanow describes as:

"A buying decision is the result of a consumer learning pathway where the consumer must learn about a product or service and relate it to their specific situation to make a favorable buying decision."

Furthermore, Dr. Zelmanow states how The Learning Pathway for the consumer can be reflected through three learning domains:


  1. Cognitive

  2. Constructivist

  3. Experiential


Cognitive Learning is characterized by reading, writing, discussions, watching videos, etc. In essence, cognitive learning is the intake and assimilation of new information. Much of this in today's world is done without any interaction with sales people. Our prospects have a wealth of information available to them about our product, industry, competitors, etc. that can be accessed 24 x 7 via the web. For example, if you sell software, prospects can download white-papers, read case studies, product reviews, and go as far as seeing a demo of your solution in action without even interacting with you. The cognitive learning stage is far more advanced than it's ever been and customer's are in much more control as they're able to access a remarkable amount of information.


Once this information is cognitively learned, the consumer will apply what was gathered to their personal set of circumstances. Dr. Z. refers to this as Constructivist Learning.  This is where the prospect is starting to really ask themselves, "Do I even need to make a change?" Here is where they start visualizing what the future state looks like if they were to make a switch to something new. Is it worth it? How will it help us? How will it hurt us? How does this align with our company strategy? Are we ready and capable for a change right now? These are all questions they start to ponder as they start to link the new information back to their current situation and analyze if it makes sense for them.


The last of the three learning domains is where the consumer begins experimenting with this new knowledge and is represented by Experiential Learning. Dr. Z. explains that Experiential Learning is where consumers starts to develop ways to integrate the new solution into daily life. Requirements are built out and the prospect may start actually testing out your product in the form of a proof of concept or free trial.


Once the Learning Pathway is complete, your prospect is now in the position to make their buying decision. However, it's not that easy since these decisions more often than not involve more than one person to convince. This is where your champion becomes critical as they hold the torch in selling the new solution internally and achieve purchase approval. They are the one's who have to present the answers to The 3 Why's back to the business.


This leads us to the first of the 3 Why's:


1. Why Do Anything?


All purchasing decisions by businesses are justified because the product or service they desire will do at least one of the following:


  1. It will make them money

  2. It will save them money

  3. It will mitigate their risk


Before you are able to demonstrate how your solution will do one of these three things, you must identify the pain or risk the prospect is experiencing. The level of difficulty of finding either of these varies depending on what type of prospect you are in contact with. I boil down prospects into 3 categories: hot, warm, and cold.


  • Hot prospects know they have problem and have identified what the consequences are if they don't solve for it right away. They have a "burning" pain or elevated risk that they need to resolve quickly and are currently in the market for a solution.

  • Warm prospects are somewhat aware of their problem or risk but haven't investigated it enough to know what the consequences are or it just isn't a high enough priority to solve for it in the near-term.

  • Lastly, the prospect may not even even be aware of their problem or risk making them a cold prospect.


Whether your prospect is hot, warm, or cold - the pain or risk prospects have can manifest in many ways. Here are some primary reasons: