As a person in business, I'm sure you've heard, learned or experienced many sales strategies used to seize a prospective customers' attention. Now looking back at your own personal experience when you've wanted to make a big purchase, or sign up for a new service; then ask yourself...
- Did you like feeling being prospected or sold to?
- Was it a positive or valuable experience?
- Did it feel as though the salesperson was just trying one tactic after the other?
- Was the focus purely to gain the sale, instead of your trust and respect?
- Was the interaction disruptive to your day?
- Were you offered any help?
Many salespeople don't have a clue about the buyer's journey nor the stages a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase. They aren't able to empathize with the prospect and their interests are only with the sale.
If you want to gain a deeper understanding of your customer, read on for our guide to the buying process, and how it will ultimately help you attract better prospects, convert more leads and close more deals.
What is the Buyer's Journey?
The buyer's journey is a 3-stage process buyers goes through leading up to a purchase. Awareness stage, the buyer identifies they have a problem. Consideration stage, the buyer gives a name to their problem and searches for a solution. Decision stage, the buyer evaluates a best fit solution and vendor.
How is the Buying Process a Journey?
OK, so I mentioned the buyer's journey is a fancy way of saying: "the process leading up to a purchase" and is also a fundamental piece of an Inbound Marketing Strategy.
In today's modern business climate, Inbound Marketers have discovered that purchasing products or services, big or small, is akin to taking a journey and there are logical stages associated.
Starting the Journey by Searching Google
The journey first begins when the consumer experiences a problem or has a need or challenge in life or in business. Then they head to Google and start asking questions in search.
In their hunt, they'll discover content that's positioned to answer their specific question. They might engage with that content by downloading tools or resources, then discover a product or service that can help their problem and the journey continues.
Align your Buying Process to a Buyer Persona
So, defining a buyer persona is an important step to understanding the challenges faced by your target customer. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal prospect.
When you align your buying process to the specific need's of your buyer in a way that's relevant and helpful, you're positioning your brand as an authority resource instead of a sales hungry monger.
Let's break down the stages and see how using each step can be profitable for your business.
What are the 3 Stages of the Buyer's Journey?
While researching you might have seen a few buyer journey methods which can lead to confusion. The HubSpot Academy teaches there are 3 stages in the buying process - awareness, consideration and decision.
1. Awareness Stage
In the awareness stage, your buyer begins to realize s/he has a problem. He hasn't started researching anything yet, he just knows that he should start weighing his options soon. Perhaps his dishwasher may be starting to behave oddly, and he's trying to decide whether to fix it or get a brand new one. Or maybe your customer runs a business and one of his suppliers is getting increasingly more unreliable. In both cases, he must make a decision soon, but hasn't been backed into a corner just yet.
This process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months until the customer moves into the decision stage, so you may have a lot of time to capture this buyer's attention. Think about your business and the types of customers you serve. What choices do you think they make before ultimately deciding on your product or service? Are there any consequences to the customer if they don't purchase your product? Will their dishwasher break if they choose to fix it instead of buying a new one? Will your customer's supplier flake out at an inconvenient time and leave your customer in a bind if he doesn't switch to your company?
It's a very effective marketing tool to find these possible pain points. Then you can market directly to consumers who are experiencing them before they decide to solve their problem in a different manner. Blogs are a great way to gain maximum exposure (and trust with your customers,) without being pushy and off-putting.
2. Consideration Stage
In this stage, customers know exactly how they want to proceed in solving their problems. They will evaluate different approaches, methods, and products that fit their needs. The buyer will figure out all the details like budget, value, and commitment. Our customer from above is at the stage where he will decide what kind of dishwasher he wants: GE, Kenmore, etc. and will start researching his options by reading reviews and looking at models online.
During this stage, you'll want your advertisements to be front and center. Take some time to research important keywords that your customers will use when researching options regarding their problem. Now you can use those target keywords to optimize your page. You might even want to use paid marketing to funnel your target customers to your page when they are searching for your kind of product or service. This stage is usually the shortest and when the customer has finally narrowed down what they want, they've moved on to the final stage.
3. Decision Stage
The decision stage is the final part of the buyer's journey. They have decided on a solution to their problem and they're ready to pull the trigger. This is the last chance you have to sway your customer into choosing you over your competitor.
Figure out what specific criteria your customer is using to evaluate your business versus others. Does a competitor offer lower rates? Are you more accessible or friendlier? What do your current and past customers love about your company? Play up those aspects as much as you can.
Remember, no two customers will have the same exact needs and wants, so you can't please everyone. But, you can use it as a learning experience if your customer goes with a different company. If you need additional help or information, HubSpot buyers journey is a great resource your entire team can utilize.