People buy when something hurts or when they want to feel good.

At the most basic level, it’s important to understand that most people buy for one of two reason — they buy to move closer to pleasure or to move further away from pain.

We will use wine and a bad hangover as an example.

Let’s say you just found out you got a $10,000 promotion for being a stellar employee. You’re so happy you want to shout but you don’t want to scare any of your colleagues in the office. So, instead, you call your wife at lunch to tell her… and she screams for you.

On the way home from work you stop by the liquor store to pick up a couple bottles of wine to celebrate with your beloved. Instead of buying the $20 bottle of wine, which is probably the logical decision, you buy the $100 bottle because you think the higher price indicates that it tastes better… and why not? You just got a promotion.

That night the two of you have a blast — grilling out, drinking, having sex and drinking some more.

In the morning when you wake up, you have one hell of a headache after a night of one too many glasses of wine. You look to see if there is any Advil in the house. There’s not. So, you run to the closest gas station and willingly pay a significant up-charge on a very small bottle of Advil to make the pounding headache go away.

In this short story, you paid for two very different things for two very different reasons.

For one, you paid a bunch of money for wine, to bring you and your wife closer to pleasure.

And, two, you paid for an overpriced bottle of Advil to bring you and your wife further away from pain.

Nearly every purchase we make as people can fall into one (or in some rare cases both) of these two categories.

$100 bottle of wine? Pleasure.

$10 bottle of Advil? Pain.

Mercedes Benz? Pleasure.

Car seat for your kid in the Mercedes Benz? Pain.

Vacation? Pleasure.

Rogaine? Pain.

If you’re reading this article you’re pretty damn smart so I don’t feel obligated to go into too much more detail, but I will end this first section covering the psychology of selling with the following piece of advice.

People buy to move closer to pleasure or further from pain (or in some rare instances both) — so when marketing your product or service be very aware of why your customer is buying what you’re selling.

Now, people are obviously complicated beasts with big beautiful brains, so the psychology of selling must go much deeper than strictly pain and pleasure… let’s talk about how emotion plays a role in buying behavior.

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