If you don’t know why people buy – I mean anything – how can you possibly expect to sell anything?

That question never occurred to me, yet I’m sure you’d agree it’s about as basic as you can get if you’re going to be in any kind of business, right?

If you agree with that, then keep reading because you may be about to learn the most important, useful, and, dare I say, lucrative, principles you’ve ever learned in your entire entrepreneurial career.

In the ten plus years I worked as a psychotherapist, you’d never have got me near a marketing book, let alone a conversation on the topic of selling.

I had no interest in sales techniques, and if you’d asked me, I’d almost certainly have told you that selling was the domain of smarmy schmoozers whose job it was to con you out of your hard earned cash and who were utterly devoid of moral fiber.

It wasn’t until I retired from my career in mental health at the end of 2013, deciding that I was finally going to make my way in the world as a writer of self help books and programs, that I made an alarming discovery.

Nobody was buying my work.

It was alarming because if I couldn’t figure that out, we’d starve.

Well, possibly not, but I’d have been obliged to return to work and after thirty seven years and a health scare, neither my wife nor I wanted that to happen.

Upon investigation, I was wary at first, but after a while, a light bulb went on.  Its light was so bright that it was dazzling, and the truth it revealed changed my life almost overnight. And in case you think that’s a cliché, let me tell you that going from making zero sales to seeing over $4,000 in your PayPal account within the space of less than three weeks is pretty life changing!

What did this dazzling light reveal?

Marketing and psychotherapy are almost one and the same!

Oh, don’t worry. If you’re not trained in either, I’m going to show you.

It’s really very simple when you boil it down.  Look:

  1. Both want to influence people’s behavior
  2. Both use words, (and maybe pictures), as the tools to bring about the desired change.
  3. Therapists and salespeople are actually good folks, (mostly).  They want their clients/customers to have a good experience.

What this meant was that I now had a foundation for understanding why people buy, because buying, after all, is nothing but a change in behavior and I already knew how to trigger those.

The Power of Emotional Triggers

In marketing, emotions play a vital role in influencing purchasing decisions. People buy based on how a product or service makes them feel rather than solely focusing on its features or benefits. By tapping into their emotions, marketers can create powerful connections with potential customers, leading to increased engagement and sales.

The adage goes, “We buy on emotion and justify with logic,” and it’s an adage you’d be well advised to learn.

People don’t care that your car has padded seats – they care that they’re going to have a comfortable ride!

Building Trust and Establishing Relationships

Trust is the cornerstone of successful marketing. Consumers are more likely to buy from businesses they trust. Building trust involves open communication, transparency, and consistently delivering value. By establishing meaningful relationships with customers, brands can cultivate loyalty and foster long-term success.

The “know, like and trust” adage is NOT so true in this case – at least not at first.

You can establish trust in a single encounter.  (For example, how’s your relationship with me right now? Do you trust that I might know what I’m talking about and that you might learn something useful by reading this article?  Yet you’ve probably never heard of me until now.)

“Know and like,” of course, are useful, and they are the factors that keep customers coming back for more.  But to make that initial sale, those are less important.

What that means is that, contrary to popular myth, you don’t have to spend months or years showcasing your best secrets and wisdom in the hope that someday someone will buy them from you.

Problem-Solving and Meeting Needs

Consumers frequently purchase products or services to address specific problems or fulfill their needs. By understanding their pain points and providing effective solutions, businesses can position themselves as problem-solvers, increasing their chances of attracting customers.

For me, this was the biggest switch from psychotherapy to marketing. As a psychotherapist, clients would tell you as clearly as they could why they were in pain; as a marketer, you have to discover it.

This was also the biggest reason that I didn’t sell for my first few years online.  I’d create products – books or courses – which I was sure people would want and then try selling them, and hear only the crickets.

That was a painful and expensive lesson!

It’s vital that you know as precisely as you can what your market wants and then sell them something that solves their problem. The more painful and urgent it is for them, the easier it will be for you to sell.


Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive or complete study on why people buy.

But it’s enough to get you started and to keep sales flowing in no matter what you sell.

I’ve written a free report, “5 Psychological Triggers That Make People Buy” which you can get from my bio link at the end of this article.

Understanding the psychology of marketing and why people buy is the missing link that can unlock the potential for successful selling. By leveraging emotional triggers, building trust quickly, and taking away people’s pain – which can take many forms, by the way—you have the most important foundation stone of them all for building and sustaining a very successful business.

Why?  Because when you focus on these things, your business is customer-centric.  

So let me finish with one more marketing adage, known as “wiffem” but spelt “WIIFM.”  It stands for “What’s In It For Me?”

That’s the mindset of our customers.  They don’t care about you, they don’t even care about your product, and what’s more, if it’s going to solve their problem, they won’t care very much about the price either!

But that’s a topic for another day.

Meanwhile, do get my report, “5 Psychological Triggers That Make People Buy.”

About The Author

Trevor Emdon is an author, coach, and retired psychotherapist who worked for 37 years in the British NHS (National Health Service) and private health care sectors.  

After retiring from that profession, he decided to go full time into writing, – only nobody bought his work.

By applying his knowledge of the mind, he soon realized that marketing parallels psychotherapy, inasmuch as people with a problem are looking for a solution.

In late 2013, he went full time online and found that by applying psychotherapy principles to marketing and sales, he could make a decent living online.

He continues to do that to this day and helps marketers struggling, as he once was, to get themselves and their businesses to flourish.

Download his free report, “5 Psychological Triggers That Make People Buy,” from https://trevoremdon.com/5buyingtriggers

Trevor Emdon