Your Customer’s 6-Step Buying Process

How do users decide to buy? In this post, I will cover the six steps in the sales process. It is very important that the sales team understands the user’s thought process at each stage and use appropriate tactics to lead them all the way to the end.

  1. Status Quo – The buyer at this stage doesn’t have an idea of buying the product. He/She is probably satisfied with the current situation, or has not actively felt a need for the product. Most sales tactics would fail at this stage as the user might ignore them given the lack of need. Inbound marketing tactics such as blog posts and whitepapers are best at this stage, and the focus should be on educating the user to make them recognize the need.
  2. Need Recognition – At this stage the buyer has recognized the need due to a change in initial circumstances. It might be a technological change (e.g. The arrival of new Smartphones that makes sales people more productive) or a change in business conditions (e.g. The need for extra PCs for his new sales force). This is the stage a sales team should focus on nurturing the lead.
  3. Searching options – This is when the buyer is actively scouting for options that could help him/her satisfy his/her need. He might be searching on the web or requesting recommendations from his friends. This is the stage when advertising should come in. The reasons why search ads are so effective for Google is that the buyer is actively searching for options and is open to promotions and advertising. SEO and social media pages also come very handy here.
  4. Evaluating options – At this stage the buyer is considering all the options available and comparing the offerings from multiple sources. In a B2B segment, this stage is likely to be more rigorous than in the B2C segment. This is when you actively communicate all your advantages (tangible and intangible) to the user. Having a good FAQ page and detailed product information pages can help the user understand a lot of information that might tip the scales in your favor. Testimonials in the website also come very handy here.
  5. Purchase – If you have done the previous stages well, this is when the sweet part comes. The sales team must ensure that the purchase goes through without any friction. This would involve working with the finance team to provide a greater variety of payment options as well as purchase financing if there is a need for that.
  6. Post purchase followup – The sales process should not stop with the purchase. At this stage the buyer has already bought your product and he must be made comfortable to get started using your offering. Some buyers are hit with the buyer’s remorse. Getting their feedback and providing customer support helps repeat sales and spread word of mouth.