How is it that the same sales process can result in Buyer’s Remorse in one customer and happy customers who are completely satisfied the rest of the time??  And what can we do to stack the odds in favour of happy, satisfied customers?

Although we are always striving for happy customers, buyer’s remorse is, unfortunately, a fairly common thing in many industries – when someone buys something and then subsequently changes their mind.  Sometimes it manifests as someone who appears really keen to buy from or work with us and then at the last moment simply disappears or comes back saying they still want to but “not just yet”.

As business owners, we can experience it ourselves around our own investment decisions, as well as in relation to our customers or potential customers.  It can be incredibly frustrating in either situation.

If someone is stuck with a product or service that they wish they hadn’t bought, it can be very damaging for both sides.  Our customer finds themselves feeling unhappy and they probably share that experience with others, reflecting negatively on our business.

I see all sorts of responses online as to how to deal with it – and taking sides depending on who the responding person aligns themselves with.  Often business owners blame the customer for messing around.  Customer’s tend to hold the business responsible for selling something unsuitable.  The reality in many cases however, is that neither of those things tend to be true.  Understanding what is really happening is the best way to reduce the chance of it happening (or happening again!).

Why do we choose to buy something?

We all have all sorts of needs and desires competing with each other at any given time.  And we only have a finite number of ways we can fulfil any of them, so we have to make choices about how we spend our money, time and effort.

The word need has a very wide meaning in this context.  Ever heard a small child tell you they “really, really NEEED” something – a toy, a snack or to watch the end of a TV programme??  We’re not all that different as adults.  We have lots of needs, not just basic survival. We may need to feel like we fit in, to feel in control, to feel successful…  What those needs look like is different for each of us depending on our preferences and circumstances.

At the moment of purchase (or commitment) a customer has an available amount of money and were presented an option which a) they had the money to pay for (or access to the money to pay for) and b) met a need that felt more important than other needs at the time.

Why do we then regret buying it?

Decisions are easy at either end of the affordability spectrum.  If we can afford something easily or if we just know straight away we can’t, then the risk of the decision is low.  This makes it much easier to make a decision and live with the outcome.

It’s usually when we’re in the middle of the spectrum, that the decisions are hard and the chance of buyers’ remorse – or clients pulling out of deals – is highest.  Where we think we could just about afford something but it would mean not buying other things, we need to feel confident we are putting our money where its most useful.  It’s in those scenarios that we second guess ourselves A LOT.

If during the sales process we feel under pressure, either because we’re pressuring ourselves to decide or because of the sales techniques, our brain can start to move towards panic mode – and the physiological changes that go along with that actually reduce our ability to fully and rationally assess the decision.   Instead, we base our decision on what will take us out of panic mode and back into calm the fastest.  This usually means one of two things: the fear of not meeting the need – perhaps by missing out on a deal or offer than brings the solution into our affordable price range – pushes us to decide to make the purchase or commitment.  Or, we take ourselves out of the sales process completely, relieving the pressure by avoiding having to make a decision and the risk of getting it wrong.

Once we are out of the pressure of the situation, our brain can think properly again and almost instantly remembers all of the other needs that money could be spent on.  It suddenly doesn’t feel like the most important place for that money to go, when there are all those other needs we have to meet too.

How do we reduce or avoid buyer’s remorse?

We need to –

  • Know how our pricing model fits with the affordability of our clients
  • Understand the level of importance they place on the need it fulfils
  • Ensure our customers have the space and time to think through their decisions calmly
  • Allow people to back out gracefully and respectfully, within a reasonable cooling off period relative to the investment being made.  This is important to avoid the ongoing negative impact of customers resenting a product or service they no longer want.

When the shoe is on the other foot and we’re investing, we need to –

  • Understand how important what we are considering is to our business
  • Determine how much of our available budget we believe that importance justifies spending.
  • Remember that if a sales process starts to feel pressured, we can politely excuse ourselves from the situation to assess our decision.  Ultimately it’s better for both ourselves and the relevant business that we only buy what we really want and need.


I’d love to hear your thoughts

Have you ever experienced buyer’s remorse yourself?  What happened and how did you respond?  Would you do anything differently in the future?

If you found this blog interesting, please do feel free to check out other blogs from The Product Academy here.