Knowing what your prospects are thinking is key to understanding how they decide which products and services to purchase. It also how to market your company effectively to take advantage of the customer decision making process. We look at the five steps that the modern buyer takes before making a purchasing decision.
Simple buying decisions such as what to have for lunch clearly don’t follow an entire process. But any purchase decision that requires some thought and consideration, the kind of process your prospects go through before deciding to buy from you, can be analysed and used to your advantage.
Your Customer Decision Making Process – The 5 Stages
1. Recognising A Need
Your customers’ first decision to buy arises from having a need for your services. Their need is arguably the most important step in the customer decision making process, and can be prompted in several ways. It can be a physical or material requirement. For example, having no furniture after moving home, or needing a car to get to work more quickly.
It can also be external, prompted by advertising and marketing. Apple are possibly the best example of this. They really just make computers, but through brilliant design and marketing, they created a desire for their products. Think about what your customers need, but also can you make them need you?
2. Seeking Information
Next, the customer will look for information to help them assess their options. In the case of your prospects, this might involves asking within their own network to find a solution. They’ll gauge the opinion of friends and colleagues and also undertake online research.
If your company provides a service that a customer could get internally, think about how an outsourced solution would help them. Talk to other key influencers in their companies and get them on your side. When the prospect undertakes web research, a strong online presence will lead to you being seen in a positive light.
3. Evaluating Alternatives
Your competitors will also have the ability to meet your prospects’ requirements. Your prospects will begin to compare you to them at this stage of the customer decision making process . Having a clear idea of your USPs, what sets you apart from your rivals, is key. What can you offer that they can’t?
It’s important to have an understanding of what matters most to your prospect. If it’s cost, you should think about offering them a trial at a reduced rate. If it’s quality, then perhaps a low price may put them off, thinking that your product or service will be of a lower standard than your competitors. In the customer decision making process, the most important thing is to really get to know their needs.
4. Making A Decision
This is the point at which your prospects will either choose to buy from you or someone else. Knowing when they’re at this stage of the process could mean the difference between winning business and not.
Say, for example, you’re aware that your prospect will be presenting their thoughts and preferred choice to the rest of the team in a board meeting. If they haven’t spoken to your competitor in weeks, then a quick positive phone call or email the day before may sway things in your favour.
5. Post Purchase
Now the customer has bought from you, their satisfaction after the point of purchase is key in retaining their business. A satisfied customer is many times more likely to make repeat purchases. They may even end up becoming a ‘brand evangelist’ telling their colleagues and their own clients about your services.
Communication with your clients after the point of sale will help you understand not only how your services were received but what you can improve on, and may help them recommend you to others who are going through the customer decision making process.