What affects customer motivation?

Typically, when I’m at Safeway, you’ll find me in the cereal aisle, checking to see if Cheerios are on sale. I have four kids, and cereal is pretty expensive, so I almost always buy what’s on sale.

If I get to the checkout and I’ve saved $5, I feel like I’ve succeeded.

But today was different.

It was the night before Valentine’s Day, and like twenty other men, I was in the floral section looking for the perfect bouquet.

I’ve made a special trip. I’m walking around with intensity. It’s crowded; I’m jostling for position as other men scurry around. I’m not looking at price tags, but rather which arrangements “feel” right. I’m highly motivated to find the right flowers for someone I love.

Buying flowers is a lot different than buying Cheerios.

What’s different is the emotion behind the purchase. On Valentine’s Day, price is no object. Lovers will spend significant amounts on flowers, dinner, and gifts. Why? They’re motivated to show affection to their partner.

It’s incredible how motivation can change behavior. Even a price-conscious customer will jump over hurdles, bypass objections, and get to the sale faster when they’re motivated.

How motivated is your customer?

If you’re selling Cheerios, and they’re not on sale, maybe I’ll buy oatmeal instead.

But if you’re selling the last seats to a Valentine’s Day Symphony, and my spouse wants to go, you better believe I’m motivated to get those tickets (and pay whatever it takes).

This principle also applies to selling software. I see many developers selling apps to unmotivated customers. If you’re tugging, pulling, and begging people to try your product, you have a motivation problem.

The smartest founders look for people already in motion, who are highly motivated to find a solution for an obstacle in their life.

A story: Stripe

Getting a merchant account used to be hard. You would have to fill out lengthy forms, fax them in, get background checks, and pay high applications fees. The crazy thing? People were doing it! That’s how motivated they were to accept payments online.

The Collison brothers noticed this and formed Stripe. They targeted a highly motivated group and made it easier for them to get what they wanted.


I really want to get this store online. Oh, damn, I need to fill out this 40-page document, and wait six weeks to get a merchant account?


I really want to get this store online. Oh sweet! All I need to do is sign up for Stripe, and 30 seconds later, I’m accepting credit cards!

The customer is still highly motivated, but Stripe has just made it easier for them to make progress.

What affects customer motivation?

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Timing is crucial. You don’t want to offer a product too early, and you don’t want to be too late. It’s usually best to be a bit ahead of the curve.

How to find motivated customers

Look for people in motion!

Don’t waste your time trying to convince unmotivated customers.

Instead, focus on folks who have a strong inward urge to get what they want.

Justin Jackson

Get my newsletter 👉

🗒️ Startup stories, lessons, and tips.
📆 Sent on Saturday mornings.
☕ Read it while you drink your coffee.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime. Powered by ConvertKit
Awww yeaaah! Looks like you're already on my mailing list! Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel?
Published on February 23, 2018