In this post we will discuss two topics.
- If 57% is your buyer’s number
- What mapping the buying process entails
57% of the buying process is completed before buyer-rep interaction. (Source – CEB, The New High Performer Playbook, Arlington VA, 2012) This statistic is based on the “average” buyer. Your buyer isn’t average. You need to determine what their percentage is.
Misalignment between the buying process and sales process will diminish win rates. Buyers are increasingly listing ease of doing business as evaluation criteria. Buyers are more educated before interacting with a rep. They want the ability to easily procure a solution that solves their problem. They don’t want reps that product pitch. They demand value from every rep interactions.
How else does Mapping the Buying process help you?
- Value Clarity – it makes your customer interactions more relevant, timely, and valuable. Your team knows where the customer thinks they can add the most value. Since buyers are spending less time interacting face-to-face, each interaction is more important.
- Focus Resources – when does the buyer want to interact with each resource? Is it during the time in which they evaluate options? Do they want help with problem diagnosis? Which resources are most valuable?
- Content – In a small company, creating content to feed the 57% is a big effort. Utilizing all the sales, marketing, and product resources is necessary. Each person in your organization has expertise and knowledge that can be leveraged. Understanding the content buyers consume prior to rep interaction should guide your content efforts.
- Interaction type – Options – interact with content. Interact with a person virtually. Face-to-Face interaction. How can you make the buyer experience easy and effective?
Below are example phases of a buying process. You can download the template here to capture your buyer’s jouney. Through customer research you can identify the activities your buyers executes in each. This allows you to improve your messaging to match those activities.
Below is a visual example of a buying process map.
A Simple Consumer Example:
You already have a cell phone. You are not in the market. Changing cell phones seems like a pain that isn’t necessary right now. Your phone still works just fine.
- Not in the Market – You listen to the news. See commercials. Your friend buys an iPhone 5. Without even trying, you form opinions about the products and providers. (No rep interaction)
- Stimulate/Trigger Event – Then you drop your current phone in the toilet. You look at your account online and realized your contract has expired. (No rep interaction)
- Problem Definition – You had issues with service coverage and browsing the internet was very slow. (No rep interaction)
- Options – You go online and see what phones are out there. Flip phones, iPhone, Droid, etc. Also, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile. You read a few online forums, blogs, look at their websites, and go to consumer reports. (No rep interaction)
- Evaluation – Your criteria are: Low upfront cost, browser speed, 4G network reach. Based on this evaluation you narrow it down to AT&T and Verizon. You want the iPhone 5. You go to the AT&T store to ask a few questions. The sales associate says, “we are out of iPhone 5s, but we have the Droid and it is better.” He tries to talk you into it without fully understanding your needs. He tells you about the functionality and how the screen is bigger. He talks for 20 minutes and makes excuses about why the iPhone isn’t available. You lose interest.
- Next you call Verizon. They ask if you know what phone you want and the ideal service agreement for you. You explain. They explain how your requirements can be met. The new iPhone5 is available in a week. They ask if you would rather pick it up in the store or have it shipped. The interaction takes 5 minutes. (Some rep interaction)
- Preference – You call your buddy that has used Verizon to confirm network reach. You call another friend that just bought the iPhone to ask about his experience. You talk to your wife about the 2 year service agreement and upfront cost. (No rep interaction)
- Final Approval – You call Verizon back and make the purchase. (Some rep interaction)
- Implementation – A week later you get your phone in the mail. You go to the store get your numbers transferred. It takes 10 minutes. (Some rep interaction)
In this example, you don’t interact with either supplier until the evaluation phase. Verizon made it easy to do business with them. They understand that customers are typically educated when they interact. AT&T pushed a different offering because they didn’t have the product you wanted.
Answer these Questions:
- Do your buyers require rep interaction during the phases shown above?
- Are your reps acting like AT&T? Do they pitching your most profitable product to make commissions?
- Does your team try to teach an educated buyer about a simple product?
- Do your reps make buying easy or overcomplicate it?
- Do your reps provide business insight to buyers on a regular basis?
Mapping the buying process is not easy. It involves detailed customer interviews, surveys, field observation, and rep feedback. This effort requires a skilled researcher that isn’t too close to the customer. You may have unbiased resources available internally that possess the required expertise. If you would like to learn more, please shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.