An understanding of your sales pipeline alone is not enough to succeed in this age of social selling and content marketing. If you want to secure more leads and close more sales, you also need to understand your buyers’ cycle – and then interlink the two.
Let me explain why…
As you know, your sales process is critical. It helps you organise, control and analyse your sales and that’s key for performance. But because it’s created from the viewpoint of your organisation, its focus is on selling, not buying – and this subtle difference can have a significant impact when interacting with your customers.
That’s where an understanding of your buyers’ cycle becomes invaluable. The buyers’ cycle maps out the thought processes and decision-making stages your prospects experience as they make the choice of what and when to buy. Once you understand how this process plays out for your customers, you can then tailor your inbound and outbound marketing efforts to match the buyer and sales cycles.
In short, interlink the two and your effectiveness will increase – hugely. That’s because you can tweak your sales approach to match the stage your customer has reached and therefore maximise your conversion rates.
But to achieve these advantages, you must first understand what a typical buyers’ cycle looks like. So lets analyse one:
How to adapt your sales process to your customers’ buying cycle
A typical buyers’ cycle has five stages. As a sales rep, your strategy will vary at each stage.
- During the sleeping stage your customer is oblivious to the fact they have an issue at all. This is a tricky stage in terms of sales because you can’t sell a solution to a problem the customer doesn’t know they have. Instead, you must work to bring that hidden issue to their conscious awareness. From here you can generate leads.
- When your prospect becomes aware they have a problem they enter the realisation stage. At this point, they don’t know what to do and will become motivated to seek out a solution. As a sales rep, you can engage in conversations that enhance the pain they feel to kick-start the justification stage.
- In the justification stage, your prospect begins to investigate the options available to resolve their pain. They want help to clarify the issue and are seeking ideas to tackle it. There’s no guarantee at this point they’ll buy. The status quo has not yet shifted, and they may decide to do nothing. But as a sales rep, you can influence the process by being helpful, answering their pressing questions and initiating the right conversations to drive the desire for change.
- As customers actively assess the options and ideas available, the decision / change stage kicks in. This is when a prospect has the go-ahead to choose one option over all others. Sales reps can have a significant influence at this stage by positioning their solution as the best option available. Here, the features of your product / service will be key as customers look to justify their choice and get confident that their preferred option will deliver.
- Once the customer has selected a product or service, the next step is purchase. However, the buyers’ cycle doesn’t end just because the contract has been signed. Firstly, you want to remind the customer what a great buying decision they made. Secondly, you need to ensure you deliver as this lays the foundation for repeat purchasing and word of mouth referrals.
The benefits of identifying your buyers’ cycle
When you understand your customer’s buying cycle, you can approach sales with far more sophistication. That’s because you’ll:
- Be more tuned in to where your customers are at
- Increase your relevance by entering the conversations your customers are already having
- Ensure you’re perceived as helpful – not pushy
You’ll also increase the efficiency and performance of your sales pipeline because you can:
- Accelerate the speed prospects convert by creating unique triggers to nudge people along your sales funnel
- Create unique marketing collateral for specific stages of the buying process
- Proactively follow up leads by linking your sales process to marketing automation software such as HubSpot
- Fix the weakness in your sales pipeline by trying new approaches to plug the leaks
How will the buyers’ cycle improve your sales skills?
If you don’t understand how your customers buy, you’re missing a big opportunity.
So take some time today to figure out the different buying stages your ideal customers and prospects take, and then map out how your existing sales strategies align with each.
How could an understanding of the buyers’ cycle improve your selling? Why not leave a comment below and let us know?