When your customer embarks on the path of making a purchase the road ahead is often long and complex. Information overload, a changing cast of stakeholders, and the pressure to deliver results makes overseeing a buying decision overwhelming.
Instead of a straight line, the buying journey is now cyclical, as show in the image below:
The best sales professionals are those who understand their customer’s burden and proactively guide their customers through the buyer journey to build momentum, trust, and more closed sales.
Here we discuss five core principles of the modern customer’s buying needs and what sales professionals must fundamentally understand to effectively support their customers through the journey.
1. Customers Don’t Understand Their Needs: The challenge sparking the customer’s decision to explore their purchasing options is often only an early representation of the underlying issue they are trying to solve. This issue becomes more clearly defined throughout the buying process. Sales professionals who engage customers with the understanding that their needs will change throughout the conversation will be more successful than their more rigid counter parts.
2. Customers Don’t Want to Take Risks: Customers need assurance that their investment will provide returns. The customer’s ROI considerations demand proof of economic value. This need is one of the major reasons that the modern buyer’s journey is more of a looping path and a straight line. When customers encounter unexpected risk factors it forces them to step back in the process, to fully understand their risk. Once they’ve measured the risk and become comfortable with it, they continue the journey forward.
3. Customers Have Done Their Research: We all know that customers are doing more independent research before reaching out to a service provider for more information, therefore the customer is ready to think critically about solutions. The problem is that sales professionals are unaware of the metrics that customers use to assess value. Numerical factors like cost and ROI are of primary concern to the customer and any claims provided by the sales professional must be backed by data.
4. Customers Have Other Responsibilities: Buying is a process that adds to the customer’s daily responsibilities. When one decision maker has the time to evaluate a solution, the other might be busy. For this reason, it’s possible for a customer to occupy different areas of the buying journey at the same time. The sales professional must work to ensure open communication by checking in often and following up quickly to drive continuous momentum.
5. Customers Will Use Competitors to Their Advantage: Once the customer decides to move forward with the solution they use negotiation costs to defray risks. It is not uncommon for customers to play competing offers against one another. Sales professionals are therefore forced to negotiate with both the customer and other solution providers.
To learn more download Richardson Sales Training’s, full white paper, Embracing the Turns: The New Buyer Journey, to learn why the buyer’s journey is now an iterative process and how sales professionals can stay ahead of the curve here.