Do you know what your customer’s buying process looks like?

If you sell professional services, or other complex andor expensive products and services, your customers probably view buying as a process rather than as an event.

If buyers go through a process to make their decisions then it makes sense that the more closely our marketing system is aligned to their process, the better our chances of being selected by them to provide our service. The key is to provide the information they need at each step of their buying process, so they can move forward to the next step.

In her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale (Amazon affiliate link), Ardath Albee outlines a 7 step buying process.

1.    Status Quo – Beginning to experience a problem, but not ready to do anything about it
2.    Priority Shift – actively interested in learning what change might mean for their company
3.    Research – committed to resolving the problem and is focused on building a business case. Looking for experts and realistic outcomes he can plan for
4.    Options – Narrowing focus to develop a short list
5.    Step Backs –New information or concerns are causing hesitations
6.    Validation – Has a short list and needs to make sure his assumptions are true before making a final decision
7.    Choice – Ready to make a purchase decision

Your customers may go through a slightly different buying process, but I think this is a good place to start, particularly if you sell professional services.

One of the challenges that we face is that today’s customers perform much of their research and early decision making before we ever know about them. They research on the internet, talk to their friends and colleagues, read newspapers and magazines, etc., all before they speak to a sales person. In the buying process outlined above, it is not uncommon for buyers to be at step 4 (or further) before they ever have a sales conversation with someone at your company.

Our job as marketers is to provide the information that customers need at each stage of their buying process. By providing this information we help them move from one stage to the next, shortening their buying (and your sales) cycle.

The more complex the sale, the more decision makers and influencers will be involved. Don’t forget to provide the information needed to answer their questions as well.
KEY – We must provide the information prospects need to meet their goals and where they are at in their buying process.

Steps to take:

1.    Take the time to learn about your ideal customers and their goals
2.    Learn more about how your customers make buying decisions. Does the buying process outlined above hold true for your buyers? Who else helps them make their decisions to buy your services?
3.    Determine what information your prospects need to know at each stage of the buying process.
4.    Begin to update your marketing materials to
5.    Get in the habit of reviewing and updating your assumptions and materials on a regular basis.

Bill Brelsford is the owner of Rebar Business Builders. As an Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach, Bill works with professional service firms and independent professionals who want to spend less time chasing business and more time serving profitable customers.
phone: 913.962.9261

AvatarBill Brelsford

Bill Brelsford is a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant who specializes in creating and implementing marketing strategies for professional service firms. You can follow Bill on Twitter.