MARKETING INSIDER

The Customer Buying Process

or… Why You Shouldn’t “Always Be Closing”

Joshua Cook, Chief Branding Navigator

Ask any sales person if they know the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, and you will be regaled with quotes about ABC, or “always be closing.” Alec Baldwin’s character uses this motto to beat down a disgruntled sales team.

I probably see this quote somewhere once a week, but very few remember the quote that comes next: AIDA, or “attention, interest, decision, action” – to be fair, Alec doesn’t exactly present the idea with as much enthusiasm.

AIDA is the common buying cycle for most customers, and it has evolved and been tweaked over the years. It describes the process a customer goes through when making a decision to buy (or not to buy) your product. The core message has stayed the same, and it has become undeniable in the age of digital marketing.

The “Attention” stage comes first, where the customer has become aware of their challenge and is conducting research for possible solutions.

Next comes the “Interest” stage, where the customer is aware of potential solutions and how it can solve their challenge.

The “Decision” stage comes when the customer is about to make the purchase, which is every sales person’s favourite stage. Brace yourself for the “Always Be Closing” quotes!

Finally, “Action,” which is the purchase.

Each stage requires attention, but too many of us focus on closing the deal.

According to SalesHub, 80% of your prospects won’t buy from a cold call and, according to Qotient.com, 60% of the customer buying process happens in advance of the customer reaching out to the sales person.

This tells us two things:

  1. Statistics indicate that the customer has a need to be informed through research because they don’t trust only the sales person.
  2. We need to provide the customer with the right information to help them through the Attention and Interest stages.

Simply, if you ignore the first 60% of the customer buying process, the customer won’t make the decision to purchase from you.

Ask yourself: How does my brand get the customer’s attention and create interest before trying to close the deal?

The most successful brands cater to the entire buying process, creating content for each stage. Here are some examples of content sources that customers use at each stage:

  1. Attention (identifying the challenge)
    Blog Posts; Research Reports; Editorial Content; Expert Content; White Papers. Educational Content.
  2. Interest (looking for possible solutions to the challenge)
    eBooks; Webcasts; Podcasts; Videos; Comparison White Papers.
  3. Decision (choosing the solution that best solves the challenge)
    Online Comparisons; Case Studies; Free Trials; Product Literature; Live Demos; Customer Testimonials.
  4. Action (purchasing the solution, and life as a customer)
    Sales People; Social Media; Friends and Family.

The goal isn’t always to talk about your product or service — you need to help the customer identify their challenge and understand how their problem can be solved, which doesn’t necessarily involve you. Once the customer has “Interest”, you can start talking about how you solve their challenge better than anyone else.

A customer’s challenges will come in all shapes and sizes. For some, the idea of saving money will be the largest challenge; for others, obtaining prestige and envy from peers will be the driving force. Maybe time is of the essence, or perhaps time is abundant but quality ways to spend it with their children is not.

What challenges do your customers have? How can your product or service help solve those challenges? Making their challenges paramount instead of talking relentlessly about how great your company is will help take care of that first 60% of the customer buying process, and then your sales team can quote Mr. Baldwin all they want.

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

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