Mapping the Customer Buying Journey: Your Key to Sales Conversions

When you are prospecting for new business (and, hopefully you are doing so consistently), do you know how your prospects go about making a buying decision? Let’s talk about the customer buying journey.

The legacy buyer and seller journey has changed dramatically over the years because of technology…the internet and mobile capabilities. For those of you old enough to remember like me, back in the day there was some conflict between the buyer and seller because both parties were trying to achieve something that was in contrast to what the other party was trying to accomplish. The buyer and seller both wanted information. The buyer wanted to maintain an arms-length relationship, while the seller wanted to establish bonding and rapport. The buyer wanted to discover their options, while the seller was trying to sway the buyer to their solutions.

Most, if not all of that changed as a result of information access. Now. the seller is not needed to get information, defend a decision, compare, figure out how to save money and buy when the buyer is ready to buy. They can do so without outside pressure and on their own schedule. This is the reason why it’s critical to understand the journey a buyer now goes through when making a purchasing decision.

The typical customer buying journey is made up of three key stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

Customer Buying Journey #1: The Awareness Stage

The customer buying journey begins when a buyer becomes aware that they need or want a product or service and are ‘open’ to various solutions and advice. At this stage, the buyer is likely to turn to search engines to educate themselves about their problem and if there are any solutions. It is essential at this stage that your company is ‘found’ through your website and social media access. If they do find your company with their search, this is a great time to start building a relationship.

In the early stages of the buyer’s journey, it’s important to be informative because the purpose here is to educate and build trust with your potential customers. The awareness stage is not the right time to be promoting sales messaging.  It’s about addressing their initial challenges and providing answers to their questions. Blog posts, whitepapers, industry insights, and eBooks are types of content that work well in the awareness stage.

Customer Buying Journey #2: The Consideration Stage

When entering the consideration stage and after their initial research, the buyer has a clearer idea of what they want to achieve and is committed to finding the right solution. The buyer here is still not ready to buy, but they are looking for potential solutions.

Because the buyer is still weighing up potential opportunities and exploring which brand is most capable of fulfilling their need, your goal here is to make it onto the shortlist of companies they are considering. You must stand out by continuing to add value and demonstrating your expertise.

Content types that do well in the consideration stage are informative videos, case studies and webinars.

Customer Buying Journey #3: The Decision Stage

Now it’s crunch time. You’re on the shortlist. Your buyer has chosen which solution is best suited for their needs and they are ready to choose which company to use. At this point, reviews and testimonials will influence their final purchasing decision.

To put yourself in position for a successful outcome, it’s important to know who your competitors are and how they are positioning their products or services.

Remember here that being competitive is not all about price, it is often about the value you bring to the table.  Demos and training videos, product reviews and possible incentives are content types that perform well in the decision stage.

Keeping your customer’s buying journey in mind as you build trust and rapport in their time of exploration puts you first in their mind when they arrive at that all-important decision stage.

The process a buyer goes through when making a decision is a journey. Start ‘thinking’ like your ideal buyer – exploring the challenges that they face and the thought process that they may go through when researching a product or service to meet their needs. Great questioning and the ability to keenly listen will make you different and give you the advantage over your competition.

Dan Fischer
Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

Source: The Sale Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge

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