The REAL Buyer Stages…

0
42 views

Share on LinkedIn

Traditionally, vendors identify a set of Buyer Stages – the steps and thinking that a customer goes through en route to purchasing a product.  I think the traditional list is inaccurate and doesn’t reflect reality.  Here’s one example of the traditional list:

“Classically, there are four main stages:
- Awareness: Identify a business need;
- Consideration: Determine possible solutions;
- Research: Evaluate different solutions;
- Purchase: Select a solution and negotiate purchase.”

I’d suggest the following customer stages are more likely in buying enterprise software:

- Cluelessness:  the customer has no idea that he/she even has a problem…
- Semi-Awareness:  the customer realizes that there is a problem, but doesn’t care…
- Denial:  the customer prefers to ignore the problem and assume that it isn’t really an issue…
- Reluctance:  the customer agrees there is a problem, but wishes it would simply go away…
- Transference:  the customer blames another department/group/person/he/her customers for the problem and hopes they will take care of it…
- Acceptance:  the customer agrees that the problem is his/hers to solve…
- Cycling:  oops – “missed the budget cycle, guess we’ll have to wait until next year” (and maybe the problem with go away in the meantime)…
- Mandate:  senior management makes it a project and gives the customer a goal to solve the problem with an end-of-year deadline…
- Whining:  “I already have too much on my plate…”
- Delay:  “I’ll get to it later this year…”
- Sleep:  customer forgets about the problem for the next 10 months..
- Awareness:  customer realizes, 10 months later, that he/she needs to start working on solving the problem…
- Delegation:  customer forms a team of minions to define the problem and propose solutions…
- Bickering:  each team member proposes a different solution and defends said solutions in a life-or-death corporate struggle of power, intrigue, manipulation and warfare…
- First-Cut:  a set of three candidate vendor solutions are chosen…
- Research:  (by the vendors including, but not limited to, doing Discovery)…
- Vendors’ Presentations:  corporate overviews followed by product line overviews followed by infrastructure overviews followed by overview demos (oh god oh god no no no no no)…
- Deep Dive Vendors’ Presentations:  to an expanded set of players, repeat line above, but in four-part harmony…
- Proposals:  Vendor A:  “Pleeeeeeeeeeze be my customer….!”, Vendor B:  “Pleeeeeeeeeeze be my customer….!”, Vendor C:  “Pleeeeeeeeeeze be my customer….!”…
- Second-Cut:  one vendor removed, customer requests POC’s from the final two…
- POC 1:  three months of inactivity followed by one day trial, followed by “what’d you think?” from the vendor…
- POC 2:  three months of inactivity followed by one day trial, followed by “what’d you think?” from the vendor…
- No Decision:  both vendors are “OK”, but not “great”…
- Readjustment:  customer’s goals are reset for the next calendar year…
[Repeat from Delay as necessary…]
- Selection:  3-5 years later, a winning vendor is chosen…
- Negotiation:  customer agrees to price and terms; purchasing takes a piece, legal takes a piece, the CFO takes a piece; disgruntled players try to torpedo the deal…
- EOQ:  customer delays until December 30, negotiates an additional sizeable discount, plus training and implementation services “thrown in” for free…
- Purchase!  License agreement is back-dated to enable vendor to make his numbers; deal is signed December 35th.

[There are likely more stages, but this is a sufficient start – your add-ons are welcomed…!]

Of course, that is the set of stages for a seasoned veteran that has been with his/her company for many years.  Here are the stages for a newly hired VP or C-level Leader (yes this is cynical, but I believe we’ve all seen this happen!):

- Press Release:  new VP or C-Level Leader just hired!  
- Early Action!  he/she just came aboard and wants to establish presence through implementing a new sweeping program…
- Purchase:  buys the same system he/she bought at the previous company…
- Implementation:  rolls-out to team, followed swiftly by…
- Confusion:  things don’t work as expected…
- Blame:  fingers are pointed in all directions…
- Professional Services:  the vendor’s professional services team is called in to make things work as visualized by the Leader…
- Discovery:  an analysis of the customer’s people and processes reveals that the system will never work as desired – not now, not never…
- Sacking:  several middle managers and numerous staff are sacked, followed a few months later by…
- Resignation:  Leader resigns, citing “cultural differences”…
- Press Release from a different company:  new VP or C-Level Leader just hired!  
- Early Action!  [Rinse and repeat…]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here