Make a Quick Impact on the Customer Decision Process


Share on LinkedIn

I have talked for many years that your marketing process should follow the decision process of your customer. Even to the extent that I would create a map to follow that path. In the old days, we called it a marketing funnel and that has evolved to the customer journey. I would then attempt to build remarkable customer experiences at key points along the journey. I have been asked why not make all the experiences remarkable? My response is that if they all are remarkable they become average, which is a fine standard to create, but at some point you are limited by that trio of organizational capabilities that I describe as time, money and skill. My advice is become proficient than create a few key moments that customers will remember.

As I have worked with Process Mapping (in the marketing sense) and Customer Journey methods the difficulty that I have found is not in understanding a decision path but finding them within the customer’s organization. The problem exists is that often the customer does not completely understand their own methods of making a decision. They have difficulty in defining how an agreement will be reached. If you think that is far-fetched, map the last important decisions within your own company for a particular product and service that was purchased. What criteria was this based on? Did it need to have a majority or a much higher consensus? Did someone have veto power? Could it be overridden? More importantly, listen to the reasons why the normal path was not used, it almost always is the case. So what good is a mapping process that is based on misguided assumptions?

Value Stream Mapping should be left on the Shop Floor

The perceptions in most organizations are that, in the spirit of teamwork and collaboration, decisions are made be committee. Now, we know that a veto power still exists, and it may be disguised as “this is not a priority now” or “a budget constraint exists”, but in organizations the veto rights still are there. So, from a sales and marketing standpoint how do we diagnose the customer decision process or are we still after that illustrious decision maker.

From a sales and marketing perspective, I believe we should make an effort to hear all points of view and categorized or note those customer views. Again, I will use Bain’s RAPIDTM framework example.  RAPID is an acronym to explain the roles people play in a given situation:

  • Recommend (A decision or next action)
  • Agree (Must Agree on Subject, part of decision)
  • Perform (Will be accountable once decision is reached)
  • Input (provides input not part of decision)
  • Decide (Commits Org to Action)

Gaining New Insights into the Sales Process

If we understand the points of view from each perspective, it becomes evident the will of the group. Few times will a decision be made that goes against the overall consensus and few times can a salesperson overcome that perception quickly. If the overall perception is negative, it will be a long sales cycle. If the general perception is positive, you can accelerate the cycle.

I like to expand on that perception of the will of the group. We can use different qualitative methods like Kano, QFD, and Voice of Customer. We can make it very simple by just using the RAPID framework and viewing the will or each of those categories. Think of a simple 1 to 10 scale depicted below.


If we place the categories along the scale, the sales and marketing process becomes much more apparent. What I like is that it also demonstrates that I may not have to move a category from veto to champion, but only more them to oppose or neutral. It creates a different way and perspective to market to the organization.

You can also compare it to political marketing. In most instances, the direct effort is made towards the swing vote in the middle of the scale. They also address the champions to supply them with the tools to garner more of the swing voters. However the attempt to win over the naysayers is limited, it becomes more about damage control, unless one of those naysayers is the decision maker.

Value Model Mapping

I started this post talking about mapping a decision process. However, most salespeople are not invited to the table till 60% of the decision process is already completed. A quick synopsis of the situation is required, and the appropriate action taken. If you have to make a quick impact, make it where it counts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here