In sales, your one and only mission is to help your customers buy. If you are going to help your customers buy, it is important to think through the stages in a typical buying process.
Customer Buying Process
The typical buying process looks like this.
- Determine needs
- Evaluate alternatives
- Evaluate risks
- Implement and evaluate
To help your customers buy we are going to break that down into what they are thinking and what questions or information will help them at each stage.
In their head: The bigger the purchase, the longer and more involved this stage is. The personality type of the decision maker will also dictate this. Questions that will help:
- What are you looking for?
- Is it for a specific occasion or purpose?
- Why is that important to you?
Sometimes people will know exactly what they want or need, but very often they need to be educated as they aren’t aware of all the options. Your questions should help you understand what they know and give information that helps learn more.
In their head: There are positives and negatives in any decision, these are being weighed up now. This is also about the real and perceived consequences for doing (or not doing) something about the problem or need that they have. Questions that will help:
- What is your decision making process?
- Who is involved in this decision?
- Which factors are the most / least important to you and others?
In their head: They are thinking – what if it all goes pear-shaped? The importance of risk is often linked to the size of the purchase. The risk can be more than the product or service per se, it can be about budget, reputation, career aspirations, whether people will like their choice and so much more. Again personality type impacts the time and importance the person will place on this stage. Questions that will help:
- What questions would you want answered before you made a decision?
- What would happen if you did nothing (as this is also a risk)?
- What would happen if this didn’t go to plan?
- What contingencies can we put in place so that doesn’t happen?
In their head: People make their selection emotionally first based on trust and their belief that you, your company and your product or service can deliver what they think they need. It is only after this that they wrap it in logical to ‘display’ to you and others. Questions that will help:
- How do you feel about this option?
- Can I help you with any information that you may need to answer questions that come from others?
- What do you think others will think about this decision?
In their head: Your customers are at this stage when they talk about implementation or using the product or service. They want to get a good deal and to answer any last questions that they may have. But remember when I say ‘good deal’ – the quote that Warren Buffet often cites: “Money is what you pay … value is what you get” Questions that will help:
- What else do you need to know to get the most out of the product or service?
- Now that they know more about us are there any new questions or concerns to be answered?
- Is there anything else you need to know before you purchase?
Implement and Evaluate
In their head: OMG I said yes, we are doing it – have I made the right decision? Now I am scared ! Questions that will help
- How do you feel now that you have signed up?
- Congratulate them and help them feel great about their decision.
- At any time, if you have any questions at all about the sales and or implementation process – please let me know.
It is perfectly natural for them to be scared at this point, and so make sure they are clear on when you will contact them next and the next stage in the process. To help your customers buy, go explore this with them to see their motivations. The questions and information can be refined and updated to fit your business. For the love of selling!