Do you really know when a customer is ready to buy from you?

Forrester Boyd News, Marketing

We had a really useful discussion at our Praxity Alliance Conference recently which made me think more about the customer’s perspective in the buying cycle. It’s all very well having a well thought through process for handling approaches to the new customer but where a relationship approach is involved there can be so much more in their minds that you need to think about as you aim towards ‘getting to yes’.

The degree to which each prospect is receptive will be influenced by many areas and may include their preconceived view of us in areas such as our size, likely cost v value, whether we rely on our heritage or adapt a more modern approach and what specialist knowledge we might have of their sector. So have a think about the weightings in their perspective before rushing headlong in with your standard sales pitch. A well timed approach through to the decision maker might help capture their interest but also their own sensitivity towards moving and evolution vs natural anxiety towards change might be important too.

Being a good match and establishing affinity is clearly essential but there also has to be a trigger or driver to justify a customer investing in the time to explore this with you now and being prepared to make it happen as opposed to aborting along the way. Find out why you are there now – it could be that they are unhappy with the service from the existing provider- but why specifically. Price is increasingly becoming key but underneath this maybe a fatal error has been made in service or advice. Perhaps a relationship change has not been well handled. Maybe a key event in their own business such as control moving on to a new generation, new priorities or driven by legislation.

Let’s assume we have interest from a potential new client and through careful questioning and probing we have built up a good degree of empathy. Think next about the step by step sequence of their decision making process. It will vary depending upon size of the target from a small family business to a board reporting centrally so consider mapping out their precise journey in detail and on paper.

Consider- what will they need from us to make a decision, what research will they do on us? Do they have enough to make an evaluation, assess options and consider alternatives? Do they have a specification of the service they require? Also, how will they be feeling at each step and what can we do to help nudge them along their journey. Think about their structure and who talks to whom, about what and the areas of high importance at a very granular level of detail. Understanding these will not, on their own, lead them to you but putting time into knowing key considerations to this customer and being ready to address these as you communicate will certainly bring you closer to their way of thinking and ultimately that ‘yes’ that you will both be aiming for.