Understanding that there is a buying cycle that everyone goes through, is one of the most important aspects of effective selling, and here I will teach you how this works.
In a few words the buying cycle is various time frame situations where the customer goes through before actually making the purchase. By having a clear understanding of these different stages, and what “triggers” your customer, you will be able to position yourself accordingly and improve the chances of making the sale.
To illustrate an everyday example of the different stages, imagine you were working in a woman’s shoe shop. The first customer who comes in you walk up to her and offer if you can help. She replies “Yes I am looking for a pair of silver shoes for a wedding, size 38”.
You know as a sales person that you are more than half way of making the sale, because your customer has come looking for something specific. So you lay out the different models in front of her and she tries them on. You know that if your prices are justified and she likes one model then you sure have a sale.
On the other hand, if a customer walks in your shop, and you offer to help, and the reply is “No thanks, I’m just having a look around”, then you know this is going to be pretty difficult to pull off the sale. She is not looking for anything specific, therefore unless she sees something that she really likes and triggers the “I need to buy them” statement, then she will be out of the door within a minute.
Whatever you try and push on to her at this time will probably not work, unless you raise the question “are you looking for anything specific”? With this question in mind, it might trigger off that she will be needing a pair of new shoes for a specific occasion in the near future. By the way, I used to own 2 shoe shops so I am pretty familiar with the above examples.
As you can see the timing in the buying cycle in which you approach a certain potential customer is vital. When you know in what stage of the buying cycle they are at, it can help you tremendously. So what are the different stages of the buying cycle you may ask? I consider 4 stages but this is debatable.
This is the point in where the potential customer is in a “just looking mode”. However they do recognize that there is a certain need or desire for something to change. They may have a question or a problem in which they need an answer or a solution too. The time in which the potential customer will stay in this mode is unpredictable.
Any attempts to sell at this stage will most likely fail, so at this stage it is just better to keep a relationship going until something triggers the customer. Keeping a note of their name and number in the offline world is essential here, and getting their name and email address in the online world is not a bad idea.
This is where the potential customer has moved out of the awareness mode in the buying cycle, and into a “I will consider/think about it” mode. Laying down their options, and thinking if they actually do need the product or service you are offering.
This would be triggered if you asked the customer in the previous example “would you care to see our new collection” or “would you care to see the shoes with a 30% discount”. New and discount are words that can trigger a consideration. In the online world, “free” or “trial” can be trigger words. At this stage you will probably not make the sale but you are giving various additional options in which your customer can consider.
This is where they will say “yes” to the above example in having a look at the new collection or downloading the free eBook in the online world. They have shown an interest in what you have to offer, but they need a little “push” or “persuasion”. They are looking at the new collection of shoes but here you will need to say something like “try these on, they will look great with the dress you are wearing right now”.
For online users, once they have read your free eBook or read your newsletter, after appreciating the valuable free information you have already given them, you can point them to your sales page which will give them a solution to a problem they might have.
This is the point where the customer finally tries on the shoes that you have pointed out to them, and if you see they are still skeptical, you can throw in a small discount to help the customer with their decision. For the online users you can throw in a few quality bonuses with your offer and explain how each one of them can help in their online business.
This is basically the last stage - the purchase process, where you have laid all of your cards down and you have offered everything possible to help your customer make the final decision.
If for some reason they do not make the final decision, you still have their details so you can keep a relationship going and hopefully a friendship as well. When the potential customer moves back into the previous stages, and starts moving through the cycle, they will consider you when they get to stage 2, 3 or 4 because of your excellent service you have given them in the past.
The following is a short video about the changes in the buying cycle stages over time. 'How' you sell has become much more important than 'what' you sell.
NOTE: If you would like to add comments on the above article or if you have any personal opinions or experiences concerning the buying cylce and how people react before, during and after a purchase, we would be grateful and honored if you shared your thoughts and ideas in the "comment" section below
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