The Buyer’s Journey: Understanding the Stages of Your Sales Process

Prospective customers don’t just arrive at the doorstep ready to buy. There’s a journey that takes place, and it’s unique to each buyer. Understanding this process can make the difference between a sales strategy that takes off, and one that plateaus.

The reality is that going from lead to closed business involves something far more complex than a linear journey. Coming to a final decision often happens by taking many routes and different avenues for each buyer. The journey could even be described as circular, particularly when it comes to repeat sales with existing customers. Typically, the buyer’s journey is categorized in three distinct stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

Stage One: Becoming Aware of a Need or a Problem
The decision to set out on the buyer’s journey always stems from a psychological trigger. Usually that trigger is a need, a pain or a challenge. At this stage, our job is to show the prospect a solution. This is where the need for content arises, and where the bulk of our marketing efforts take place. At this point we’re not selling – we’re simply providing industry and brand information.

A Google search on terms related to their problem is the starting point for 72% of potential customers. At this point, the customer is gathering information and/or brushing up on relevant facts.

Stage Two: Considering the Facts, Weighing the Options
The average buyer’s journey is already 70-90%  along the way in the sales process before ever reaching out to a sales rep. At this point, customers have discovered all they need to to take the next steps. At this stage, they are narrowing down to a handful of viable options.

This isn’t the place to push for a sell. This is when we need to be able to track which content the customer is engaging with most, and what other messages should be sent to them to answer their questions.

Often this stage is about comparison. How does your product rate in terms of ROI, functionality, ease-of-use, and of course, price? These are the questions we have to answer to customers.

Stage Three: Taking the Decisive Step
Now it’s time for sales to take over. The customer knows all they need to know, now they need to speak with a rep.  When a sales rep is armed with a sales enablement tool, they are using the most refined presentations to enable the prospect to take that leap. After much presentation refinement by both the marketing and sales teams, the presentation in the sales aid tool could very well work to enable the sales rep to close the deal.

The customer journey is never complete. It’s an ongoing relationship. That’s why it’s important to understand what it is that motivates decision makers. And when we know that, we can guide them in the right direction throughout their journey.

Want to get to the decision part of the customer journey? Move them from awareness to consideration, and then close that deal with sales enablement.

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