A customized sales process is an excellent tool. However, it cannot be viewed in isolation. Instead, you must account for the fluidity in the buyer’s journey. You can do this by incorporating dynamic personas and buying process maps. These tools help to anticipate buyer trends and keep pace with the buyer.
In “Teams, Streams and Provider Dreams,” Hank Barnes provides background on buyer variability and fluctuations. He also shares an excellent illustration by Gartner which captures the subject well. While the illustration is specific to technology, it is applicable to other industries. How often do we see the buyer take one step forward and two steps back? The best way to align with this buyer behavior is with buyer personas and a detailed buyer process map.
Utilizing 3 Common Buying Trends in your Buyer Process Map
There are a variety of buying trends you may be seeing with your customers. These trends will vary by product and industry. However, they are likely consistent within a given industry. If you can get a handle on these trends, you can leverage them. You’ll know when, as well as why, buyers might withdraw or push forward. See a few examples below:
- Buying by Committee – More and more companies are moving in this direction. As they do, the need for multiple personas and buyer process maps increases. Uncovering the buyer’s journey for primary committee members is critical. When you understand your buyers, you are better equipped to help them maneuver the sales cycle. This isn’t about manipulation, it’s about selling the way the customers want to buy.
- Late-Stage Vendor Engagement – Now, buyers progress 60-75% through the buying cycle before engaging with a sales rep. This leaves you with 1/3 – 1/4 of the journey to convert the sale. This isn’t a lot. As a result, understanding your personas, and how they interact with the journey, is crucial. Where are they in the journey when they enter? How can you anticipate their possible reactions to your conversations? Buyers are adjusting preferences as they gather more and more information. You can still win by entering late if you “out-educate” the other vendors. Be helpful and not sales-y. With a limited window, you need to hit on all cylinders.
- Limited Access to Buyers – Email, caller ID, voicemail, and the like all contribute to limited access. Nowadays, buyers realize they don’t have to engage with a rep if they don’t want to. They’d rather go through the process on their own time. Unfortunately, this allows them to reach conclusions on their own that you’d maybe prefer they not reach. Identify how your buyer prefers to communicate, and when. This will help you engage on their terms, and make positive interaction more likely.
Succeeding in these 3 areas above requires a thorough understanding of your buyer. Download the Persona Builder and get started today. This tool will lead you through the process of creating accurate Buyer Personas. By utilizing LinkedIn information, you can get a very clear picture of your typical buyers. Analyze the relevant connections (hopefully they are Tagged as potential buyers). Examine their recommendations, endorsements, and connections. This will tell you a lot about their personality and how they may buy. The Builder will help you compile this information into a usable Buyer Persona.