Understanding What Decision-Making Drivers Matter Most

Sales and marketing professionals know that what people think motivates them to buy and what actually drives their decision-making is rarely the same thing. Few would admit that they are swayed by advertising, but we know it goes a long way to keeping brands front and centre in a decision-maker’s mind.

To grow your sales, you’ll need to offer Key Drivers, such as demonstrating your commitment to service excellence.

When our competitive brand benchmarking studies compare dimensions people think are driving their decisions to ones that actually correlate with desirable outcomes, such as overall satisfaction, willingness to recommend, or share of wallet measures, we find recurring patterns that help us understand and define the roles of these drivers. By mapping them along the dimensions of stated importance and inferred importance, we see that four driver categories emerge.

Table Stakes:

These are simply the cost of entry for decision-makers, and include basic product and service functionality and reliability. Any perceived failure to perform on these aspects of an offering will prevent you from being a credible contender – excelling in them helps, but that alone won’t differentiate your brand.

Key Drivers:

Clients know these dimensions drive consumer decisions and set brands apart. The hallmarks of these drivers include superior product quality/performance, exceptional client-centric service; and strong brand reputation. Steady market leaders and rising stars tend to excel on these dimensions.


Hidden Drivers:

These are a brand’s more subtle differentiators. In the business-to-business context, for example, they typically include dimensions that help client professionals build and expand their own practices over the longer term through white papers, industry information, marketing tools, etc.

Lesser Drivers:

These usually include ‘nice to have’ bits of information, features and offerings not immediately relevant to daily tasks. Sometimes these dimensions later strengthen as drivers, but often not.


Being trained on your product shelf and being available when clients call is simply Table Stakes – if you can’t offer this, your competitors certainly will. To grow your sales, you’ll need to offer Key Drivers, such as demonstrating your commitment to service excellence by helping clients understand which of your offerings are ideally suited for the specific situations they are managing; or jumping in to advocate on their behalf should product problems or corporate process failures occur. Once your clients are convinced of your functional competence and service excellence on day-to-day dimensions, you’ll have gained sufficient trust to offer business-building ideas and tips that demonstrate your commitment to their longer-term growth and success.

Hitting the mark in all four of these quadrants is a recipe for sales team success, but understanding and evaluating the specific drivers for your sector requires the right tool. Our Touchpoint Evaluation process marries competitive brand benchmarking with real-time measurements of salesforce effectiveness to provide a direct feedback link to your clients. By evaluating the impact of your sales teams’ client interactions on the drivers that matter most to your sector, you can make effective organizational changes that will grow your business.

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