In terms of the research method leading up to a purchase, the buyer’s journey through the sales cycle is comprised of three basic stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. However, the consumer currently visiting your office or website may not be in the midst of initial research; they might be juggling several options and nearly ready to make a decision. Nevertheless, at whatever point the buyer enters the sales cycle, your business should be prepared to work with them and know when to take the next step.
Identifying The Real Customers
No matter where the purchaser is in their buying process, take the time to ask a few personal questions. These include basics such as their name and phone number along with a number of leading questions to determine whether they are a quality lead. Your customers may range from heads of households, committees or businesses, and you need to know their buying power, budget, timeline, and specific requests to determine if you can adequately meet their needs.
Communicate effectively, whether in person, over the phone, or via email, and advance the sales cycle whenever possible. Keep track of the time you invest, to avoid getting bogged down by a “tire kicker” and potentially missing out on other opportunities.
Meeting Needs Before Someone Else Does
In addition to saving you time and energy, the ability to advance the sales cycle is essential to avoid losing your buyer to a competitor. Your customers may be actively comparing you to others, so draw them in with your unique content and propositions. Be aware of the benefits you can offer your client, especially as compared to your competitors. In addition, tailor your presentation to your audience, and speak from the buyer’s rather than the seller’s perspective.
Lead Nurturing and Educating
When dealing with purchasers at any stage, be prepared to address their varied concerns or objections as they arise. These may include common phrases such as “I’m thinking about it”, “it’s too expensive”, or “I need to see what the others think”. By knowing where your buyer is in the sales cycle (that is, whether doing preliminary research or trying to bargain for a closing deal), you will know how best to respond. In the meantime, keep detailed notes on your conversations, or make a file with specifics about their background, buying information and requested features. Maintain their interest with information about additional services or benefits, and show off your company’s expertise with educational blogs, articles or newsletters.
Above all, build a relationship with your potential client, letting them know that you see them as an individual and are adapting your approach to their specific needs.
Knowing When to Close
If you move in too quickly, the customer may put up a shield or fully retreat. On the other hand, if you wait too long to advance the sales process to a close, you very likely may lose your would-be client to a competitor. By knowing at what point a buyer is entering the sales cycle, you will be better equipped to meet their needs and develop a relationship; which, with good follow up, can lead to referrals.