The best sales organizations focus on their customers and how to address their pain points. A great way to focus on the customer is to understand the journey they have to go through before buying your product and guide them from one step to the next. Mapping out the buyer’s journey can provide clarity and direction about your role as a salesperson at any given stage of the sales process. Here is how to match your sales strategy to the journey your prospects are undergoing.
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The buyer’s journey follows a set pattern that applies in almost every sales situation. There are different accounts of the buyer’s journey, but the most common iteration is the following. Once you are familiar with these five stages, you will be able to identify them in every interaction you have.
The first step is simply to determine which stage of the buyer’s journey your prospect is on. If you are cold calling or emailing, do some preliminary research to find out if the buyer has purchased similar products before. On the call, if you ask the right questions it should quickly become apparent if your client is at the awareness stage or earlier or later on in the process.
Now let’s look at each of these stages in detail to see how they should orient your sales work.
This is the stage where buyers first hear about your product. This can be further broken down into 4 stages:
In the unaware stage, the prospect doesn’t know they have any specific need or problem that your product could address. They might know that some element in their business is not running optimally or could be improved, but they haven’t yet successfully diagnosed what is going wrong or could be better.
In the second stage, problem awareness, the buyer recognizes that something they are doing isn’t working or that their results are suboptimal and considers doing something about it. They could come to this conclusion by themselves, or you or another salesperson may reach out to them to let them know they could be saving money, boosting performance, or whatever the case may be. If you identify a prospect at this stage of the buyer’s journey, you want to focus on highlighting their pain point and making it seem urgent, rather than talking too much about your product or pushing a certain solution aggressively.
Since the prospect might only have a very vague idea of a problem, you should be very specific and concrete about the problem, and use numbers whenever possible to demonstrate what the prospect is missing out on.
In the solution awareness stage, the buyer has already identified and wants to solve the problem, and has selected your type of product as the solution. Again, this could be due to independent research or thanks to sales or marketing efforts on behalf of your product or a competitor. This is usually the stage where your prospect has the intent to buy and starts browsing through different options. If you are targeting prospects at this stage of the journey, it is important to introduce your product as the solution to their pain point and demonstrate its credibility and value.
And finally, product awareness. The client is now aware of your service, but might be unconvinced of its value or might also be considering one or many competitors. Here your focus should be on differentiating the solution you offer from that of your competitors.
At this stage, the prospect is actively shopping for a solution for their problem, and is examining your product and others. It is important to be informative and highlight your value proposition during this step. What special value do you offer? Why should they choose you? Focus on aspects that distinguish you from the competition or make your option more convenient. This can also be a great time for client testimonials or anything else that can increase credibility. Letting the prospect know that many have chosen your product and been satisfied is key here.
Here the prospect has considered all their options and shows interest and intent to buy the product or service you are offering. They are not yet fully committed, but are leaning towards your product. At this stage of the buyer’s journey, you want to avoid stalling and wasted time. You also want to try to prevent anything that might deter the customer from buying, such as an inconvenient or slow implementation process. You want to make it easy and seamless for them to commit.
Asking questions and actively listening can let you know if there is any residual hesitancy or doubt to take care of. Try to find out what it would take to make the sale. If in doubt, be respectful but direct; the prospect will often tell you how to close if you let them!
This is the stage where the salesperson closes the deal. Again, you want this process to be as smooth and effortless as possible for the buyer. You want to stay away from language that suggests the buyer is taking a leap of faith or making a major commitment; make it sound like the logical next step in the process, a fait accompli. Learn more about closing in sales here.
Your work is not done when you’ve closed the deal, and hopefully neither is the buyer’s journey. You should always aim to create repeat customers who are satisfied enough to have product loyalty. For this to occur, all the above stages need to have gone seamlessly. If the customer makes a purchase but is left with a bad taste in their mouth due to missteps on the salesperson’s part, they will probably not buy again. Acquiring repeat customers also means following up frequently and not dropping the ball as soon as the prospect signs on the dotted line.
In order to be successful with your sales strategy, it is important that you identify the stage of the buyer's journey your prospects are on. This will help you better connect with them and demonstrate how your product or service can meet their needs in this specific phase. We've discussed five stages of the buying process; awareness, consideration, intent, purchase and loyalty, and how to approach your prospect at each step. To help your reps learn strategies like this, consider trying out Attention. Our software helps sales reps stay on track and accelerate from junior to senior level fast.
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