It’s unlikely that your products and services are purchased on a whim unless you’re selling chewing gum. Rather, there’s a process your customers go through each and every time before they purchase from you, regardless of what you sell. While that process may vary from customer to customer, you’ll find the process more alike than different across your clients, especially those who are most valuable to your business. Understanding this process will help you uncover opportunities when it’s easier to convince potential clients you’re the right choice. Think of it like this – it’s easier to convince you after work to forgo cooking tonight and pick up a pizza on the way home than it is in the morning on your way into work, right? This business marketing strategy of understanding when your clients make the decision to buy from you (versus your competitors) can help you find more new customers.
Let me share an example of the process I went through for a purchase I recently made – a rug for my home. First, my husband convinced me that my hard wood floors in the home we moved into 10 months ago needed rugs over them. I’m not a rug person so this did take some major convincing on his part. With that hurdle behind him, I began the arduous process of finding a rug I liked. I scoured hundreds of websites, catalogs and stores for 6 months. No joke! I had that hard of a time making a decision because I’ve chosen wrong in the past and experienced disappointment and buyer’s remorse.
With each rug I’d consider, I’d show it to my husband as I trust his vision more than my own. More times than not he’d point out a reason I hadn’t thought of as to why the rug wasn’t right. Or worse, he’d express indifference. When he didn’t have an opinion, I knew he was letting me make my own mistake as it wasn’t ‘the one.’
There was a point with each rug I considered over the six months when I could have been convinced to purchase right then. Yet the catalog, website or store didn’t engage with me in a way to convince me to pull the trigger. I was open to suggestion. An expert opinion or an option to see how that rug would look in my home would have been appreciated. I was standing on the edge of the pool. I was ready to buy. I just needed a little push. Yet no one was there with the information I needed to make that jump. A google ad or a well-placed review of a rug I was considering could have pushed me over the edge – a friend ‘liking’ or a google +1 on a rug that I was considering. There was nothing.
I finally made a decision last week, and I purchased a rug online. What pushed me over the edge was the fact that I was disgusted with myself for not being able to make a decision. I was tired of the indecision so figured any decision was better than no decision. The rug is in the house now, and I think I’m ok with how it looks. Was my rug buying process similar to everyone else who buys a rug? Maybe or maybe not. But as you can see, there was a process I followed and several opportunities for rug sellers to reach out and convince me to buy from them. The fact that I had purchased a new home in the last year should have been a major indicator to many retailers that I was ripe for marketing to. Yet the local retailers in my market missed that signal and that opportunity.
Spend an hour in the quiet thinking about the process a new customer goes through to get to you. Where do opportunities exist that aren’t so obvious where you can sneak in and get the sale? In the photography industry it may be tough on your budget to convince brides to invest a large portion of their budget on photography. So maybe you leave that up to a larger competitor who has a bigger budget to carry the burden for the whole industry. Then you come in at one of the points in the process before the photography decision has been made and win the business with what makes you different.
It starts with putting yourself in your clients’ shoes and getting really specific about the process they go through to find you. Think about all the resources they consider before a purchase. Think about all the people whose opinions they seek out (or maybe they may not seek any). Write down their process. Then think of how you can reach them (and others just like them) more frequently during that decision making process. Good luck!