How to Sell to Customers With Different Motivation Types

Trustmary teamTrustmary team
Last edited: February 13th, 2024

First, the question:

Why do some people buy your product because of its look while others focus on its functionality and price? Or, why do some of your website’s visitors decide to examine your product/services after reading a blog article while others don’t?

It’s all about psychology and dominant motives driving human brains to behave a certain way.

As a seller, you need to understand what motivates the audience to buy from you. Once you figure out the dominant motivation of your buyer persona, you can decide on the appropriate marketing tactics and content strategy to use for better conversion and sales.

What is Customer Motivation?

Customer motivation is about psychological factors causing people to buy from you; it’s the driving force behind online conversions.

Both rational and emotional motivations are complex and often subconscious. Marketers examine them for years, categorizing different motives and segmenting customers accordingly. 

Understanding these motivations helps build a sales funnel, better position products, and better engage customers at the funnel’s every stage.

Simple like that:

Speaking to customer pain points, needs, and wants, you attract conversions. As a rule, marketers appeal to eight motivation types driving consumers to action:

Motivation:What you can do about it:
NeedHighlight a problem and showcase how your product helps solve it
PleasurePosition your products as enjoyable and those making a consumer feel good
AcceptanceUse influencer marketing
AspirationHighlight how your product can help achieve goals
FearStress how your product deals with the dominant fear of your targets
HealthSpecify how your product is beneficial to people’s well-being
ImpulseCreate FOMO, a sense of urgency, or a sense of excitement
Financial gainShow why your product is a good investment; how it can help people save or make money


Whatever the type, all they center around one dominant: the expectancy for reward, either physical or social. So, here’s what you can do to save time working with the above eight motivation types:

Reveal which of the two dominant motives (a physical or social reward) prevails in your target customers, and revise your content strategy accordingly. You’ll write reflective texts that best meet the interpretations your targets use for decision-making, thus triggering the desired reaction.

Keep on reading for more details.

Digging Deeper: Two Dominant Motivators

First, let’s try to understand how the reward system in human brains works and guides behavior.

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The reward system is a core component of the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA). That’s where the happy chemicals live, satisfying the need for excitement:

One of those happy chemicals, dopamine, uses its neurons to reach the nucleus accumbens, also known as the reward circuit guiding our behavior. On their way to the circuit, neurons go through the mesolimbic and mesocortical pathways, which are responsible for anticipating rewards.

Once the dopamine neurons reach the nucleus accumbens via the mesolimbic and mesocortical pathways, the brain feels motivated and shapes the behavior based on whether a person seeks a social or a physical reward.

As a marketer, you can help the target audience feel rewarded when understanding the traits and behavior associated with their personality type: 

  1. F-people, those trying to avoid failures. Their dominant motivation is to stay safe no matter what.
  2. S-people, those striving for success. Their dominant motivation is positive perspectives and outcomes.

Determine which is yours — and you’ll get an idea of what content types to choose for them to trigger desired decisions and actions.


F-type people are those afraid of taking risks. They strive for maximum comfort and think it’s better to do nothing than lose. Also, F-people are more about expecting a physical reward.

When selling to such customers, focus on providing comfort and guarantees. They will more likely buy your product or choose your service if they feel there’s no risk. That’s why F-people often read negative reviews, looking for the comments saying what’s wrong with you: They want to know all possible drawbacks beforehand.

It makes your work with negative comments even more critical.

First, don’t hurry up to delete such comments from your resources unless they are spam or trash. Only one out of ten consumers visit a website page to leave positive feedback; negative ones are 2-3 times more likely to come.

So, if you delete them, nothing is left to work with.

Negative yet reasonable reviews can help you understand your drawbacks and fix them, thus turning that negativity into a positive customer experience.

Even negative comments and reviews increase your content’s virality: The more reactions it gets, the more people will see it, and the more F-people will benefit from it. Your task here is to respond to such feedback:

  1. Don’t argue with a disappointed customer but apologize.
  2. Keep your responses short but mention you’re working on the problem.
  3. Personalize your response.
  4. Follow up after resolving the issue.

Thus you’ll make F-people see there’s no risk in working with you: Even if something happens, you’re customer-oriented and always ready to help.


People with an S-dominant are more impulsive. They are positive thinkers who don’t focus on drawbacks and are ready to try new things, even if the risks are high.

When selling to S-people, highlight your product’s exciting and attractive elements. They’ll more likely to read positive reviews, learn about new features and benefits, and make their buying decisions accordingly.

S-type people are more about expecting a social reward. That’s where testimonials can help you pursue them:

Reading the honest words of your happy customers telling why you rock or watching their real stories about how your product or service helped them find a solution, S-people get a stimulus (motivation) to try it.

Determining Your Customers’ Motivation

How to know the dominant motive of your target audience and start selling to them accordingly?

Marketers have three instruments for that:

  1. A detailed portrait of your buyer persona. Focus on characteristics beyond demographics: Create psychological profiles, specifying the fears, needs, pains, experiences, and cultural backgrounds of your customer. Also, add character traits influencing that person’s ambitions and decisions. With this info, you’ll shape and influence their decision-making process.
  2. Market research (insights). Surveys, interviews, and competitor analysis — these and other kinds of market research help you get further insights about your audience. A/B testing allows you to see which motives receive the most engagement; social listening is a worth-trying instrument, either.
  3. Corresponding tech tools. Consider advanced analytics and machine learning to identify motives behind customer behavior. With the help of monitoring tools, you can analyze reviews and understand why customers buy from you.

Selling to Customers With Different Motivation Types

So, long story short:

Based on the dominant motivator of your target audience, you’ll build the best possible content strategy to influence their buying decisions. Your brand voice should be consistent across all marketing channels you use for business promotion; also, pay attention to content forms and copywriting techniques you choose to attract relevant customers.

If your customer has an S-dominant motivation:

  • Focus on the bigger picture of your product when describing it. 
  • Avoid tiny details, and use text-brief and visual-centric messages.
  • Highlight new features, and make ads eye-pleasing.

A great example is the content and ads from Apple: short texts specifying new exciting features + stellar visual components to trigger a “Wow!” impulse and make people want to buy.

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For customers with F-dominant motivation:

  • Focus on more informative content.
  • Give them specifics on every feature you represent, and describe how it works.
  • Provide step-by-step plans: They need to see how it works, what results they will get, and that they risk nothing when buying from you.

Landing pages with instructions, how-to blog posts, video guides, customer reviews, and testimonials are some content formats that will work.

Given that F-people look for negative reviews to examine and prevent all possible risks from choosing your brand, format this content accordingly.

It doesn’t mean publishing tons of negativity on a website’s home or landing pages. Instead, focus on the “before-after” or “BUT” writing formats:

Consider honest customer reviews where they tell about their doubts before purchasing from you and how those doubts disappeared after. Or, share so-called positive negativity: 

It’s a review where a customer first tells about what was wrong and then adds, “but…” providing your pros or how you helped resolve the issue.

Final Thoughts

No matter what product or service you sell online, it’s critical to understand what makes a consumer want, choose, and buy it. Defining customer motivation helps sellers properly segment their target audience and develop a content strategy to convert them into leads.

Make psychology work for you:

The more you know about a customer’s needs, fears, pains, and experiences, the better you’ll understand their motivations and frustrations when it comes to buying decisions. And depending on your customers’ dominant motivation type, you’ll apply different persuasive techniques to improve your marketing results.

Your word choice, brand tone of voice, ad types, and proper calls to action — all they can serve as powerful motivators for customers to buy from you. Reviews and testimonials also can: Start gathering them right now with Trustmary’s widgets!

Further Reading


What types of motivation drive consumers to action?

Marketing specialists appeal to eight core motivations that drive a person to choose your product or service. It can be a need, pleasure, acceptance, aspiration, fear, a benefit for health, impulse, or financial gain. But whatever motivation, it will center around one dominant: the expectancy for reward, either physical or social. Reveal which of the two prevails in your target customers, and craft your content strategy accordingly.

What is a dominant motive for customers to buy a product?

A dominant motive refers to psychological factors causing people to buy from you. Rational or emotional, it’s complex and often subconscious, appearing from the way the reward system of the human brain works. Depending on the reward type a person expects, — physical or social — marketers distinguish two consumer groups: F-people and S-people.

Who are F- and S-people?

F-people are those whose dominant motive is to stay safe and avoid failures; they expect a physical reward. S-people are consumers whose dominant motive is positive perspective and outcomes. When making decisions, these people expect a social reward. Once you know your customers’ motivation type, you’ll understand what content can trigger them.

How to determine your customers’ dominant motive?

You have three core instruments for that. Use a detailed portrait of your buyer persona with a psychological profile: fears, pains, ambitions, and decisions. Do market research: competitor analysis, interviews, surveys, and social listening — all help identify motives behind customer behavior. The same goes for advanced analytics and machine learning: Monitor and analyze reviews to know why people buy from you.

How can reviews and testimonials help you engage customers with different motivation types?

Both positive and negative reviews can trigger consumers with an F-dominant motivation type: They will see all cons, estimate the risks, and thus deal with all the objections. For S-people, consider text and video testimonials: Honest stories from happy customers serve as a stimulus for them to work with you.

Trustmary team
Trustmary team


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