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Sales Glossary: Buying Criteria

January 26, 2024 (3mo ago)

Sales professionals must understand and leverage buying criteria to effectively close deals, which involves identifying different types of criteria, employing various techniques to uncover them, and addressing challenges such as evolving, implicit, and competing criteria.

Sales Glossary: Buying Criteria

Sales professionals navigate a complex landscape filled with various terms and concepts crucial to their success. Among these, understanding "Buying Criteria" stands out as a cornerstone for effectively closing deals. This article delves into the essence of buying criteria, breaking down its components, and offering insights into how salespeople can leverage this understanding to meet and exceed their sales goals.

Understanding Buying Criteria

Buying criteria encompass the set of standards and requirements that prospects use to evaluate and ultimately select a product or service. These criteria can be explicit, such as specific features or price points, or implicit, reflecting unspoken needs or desires. A deep understanding of a prospect's buying criteria is essential for any salesperson aiming to craft compelling value propositions that resonate with the prospect's needs and preferences.

Types of Buying Criteria

Buying criteria can be categorized into several types, each playing a crucial role in the decision-making process:

  • Feature-Based Criteria: These are the tangible aspects of a product or service, such as functionality, design, or technical specifications.
  • Price-Based Criteria: This involves the cost of the product or service, including upfront costs, ongoing fees, and potential savings.
  • Vendor Criteria: These criteria relate to the seller's reputation, reliability, customer service, and support.
  • Social Proof: Testimonials, reviews, and case studies can influence buying decisions by providing evidence of the product or service's effectiveness and value.
  • Personal Value Criteria: These are subjective and personal factors that affect the buying decision, such as the buyer's emotional response or alignment with personal or corporate values.

Identifying Buying Criteria

Identifying a prospect's buying criteria requires a mix of research, active listening, and strategic questioning. Sales professionals can employ various techniques to uncover these critical insights:

  1. Pre-Sale Research: Before engaging with a prospect, conduct thorough research to understand their industry, company, and potential challenges they face.
  2. Active Listening: During conversations, pay close attention to the prospect's language and the issues they emphasize, which can hint at their underlying buying criteria.
  3. Strategic Questioning: Ask open-ended questions that encourage prospects to reveal their priorities, preferences, and any specific requirements they have.

Leveraging Buying Criteria in Sales

Once you've identified a prospect's buying criteria, the next step is to tailor your sales approach to meet these criteria. This involves:

  • Customizing Your Value Proposition: Highlight how your product or service meets or exceeds the prospect's buying criteria, focusing on benefits that align with their priorities.
  • Addressing Concerns Proactively: If you identify potential objections based on the buying criteria, address them upfront and demonstrate how your solution mitigates these concerns.
  • Providing Relevant Social Proof: Share testimonials, case studies, or reviews that resonate with the prospect's buying criteria, showcasing the success others have achieved with your solution.

Challenges in Understanding Buying Criteria

While identifying and leveraging buying criteria is crucial, sales professionals may encounter several challenges:

  • Evolving Criteria: A prospect's buying criteria can change over time due to shifts in market conditions, budgetary constraints, or internal priorities.
  • Implicit Criteria: Some buying criteria may not be explicitly stated, requiring salespeople to infer these from conversations and behaviors.
  • Competing Criteria: In some cases, different stakeholders may have conflicting buying criteria, complicating the sales process.

Strategies for Overcoming Challenges

To navigate these challenges, sales professionals can adopt several strategies:

  • Continuous Engagement: Maintain regular communication with prospects to stay informed about any changes in their buying criteria.
  • Consensus Building: When dealing with multiple stakeholders, work to identify common ground and address the varied buying criteria effectively.
  • Empathy and Adaptability: Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging the prospect's challenges and showing flexibility in adapting your proposal to meet their evolving needs.


Understanding and addressing buying criteria is a dynamic and critical component of the sales process. By effectively identifying, leveraging, and adapting to these criteria, sales professionals can significantly enhance their ability to close deals and build lasting relationships with their clients. Success in sales requires not only a deep knowledge of one's product or service but also a keen understanding of the customer's needs and how they decide on a purchase. By focusing on buying criteria, salespeople can more effectively align their offerings with what truly matters to their prospects, leading to more successful outcomes and sustained sales success.