Low sales = misunderstanding of the buyer decision process?
Quite hard to quantify the process, isn't it? Not to worry - it's all here for you.
IF you have the patience. IF you're hungry enough.
Think about how this applies to you & your business
Rub your hands together - the cash is about to flow in like a golden tsunami! Watching like a hawk ...
It's the end of week 1 - hand-rubbing has been replaced with finger-tapping.
It's the end of week 2 - finger-tapping has been replaced with teeth-grinding.
It's month 3 - you've developed a nervous tic, you're starting to lose your hair, and - no, no fingernails left to chew. You speculatively glance at your toenails. Too far to reach. Pity. you have this irresistible desire to chew something right now, to gnaw away your frustration & confusion.
"My website is stunning!", "My product is brilliant!", "The price is exactly right!", "Why aren't they buying?", "Why does everybody hate meeeeeeee?"
All you hear is ... crickets.
Truth-time: It's You, and You Need to Fix This
Let's get back to you, and your buying process.
- When you fill up your car, you're meeting your desire to travel quickly, independently, and in reasonable comfort, from point A to point B. Re-fuelling is the way you meet this desire. Think about it - you don't really want to own fuel, do you?
- When you buy an axe, you're meeting your desire for a log fire, you want to keep your family warm, or create a romantic atmosphere.
- Nobody actually wants mascara; they want gorgeous eyelashes that increase their allure, and maybe get the attention of that guy in the I.T. department.
- Nobody really wants a lawnmower - they want to be admired for having a beautiful lawn, or admire it themselves.
See the pattern?
Some things you buy because you want to consume the actual thing - chocolate, beer, steak? These things "sell themselves"; the customer seeks them out with an unwavering intention of buying. If you're reading this, chances are you're not selling any of that.
Are you selling what people need, or what they want?
See that sweet 7-year-old? The one who screams, "Mommy! I want it! I want it for ME!", while jumping up & down with a ferocious scowl, little fists waving? Nobody needs to sell her the thing she's after - she'd wrestle a crocodile for it in that moment. Pure desire - beautiful!
Now, I know that your target market is likely not that age range, and your product is probably not some sticky confection - that's okay. I am driving the point home, so you really get it, viscerally.
We buy based on our emotions.
We buy the feeling that the thing gives us.
We buy to feed our desires for love, for acceptance, for intimacy, for admiration, for peace of mind.
We feed our desires with what we buy. (Sorry if that sounds creepy.)
Now take a look at your product/service copy
If you have a product, what delicious desire will it fulfil for your customer?
If you sell a service, how will they feel afterwards, what will it change in their lives, how will it level-up their game?
Read your copy aloud. Even better if you would record your reading, and listen to it. What words do you use? Mostly verbs? Mostly nouns? Are your verbs active & dynamic, or passive & static? How about the length of your sentences? You can't bore anyone into buying, so consider what emotions your copy evokes.
What desires will explicitly be met when your customer consumes your product / service? This is not the time for soothing classical music prose. This is the time for tribal, soul-stirring drums that connect the reader with their innermost desires, and they must know, just know, that they want your shiny object. They'll be happier, more fulfilled, more satisfied, if only they had this thing.
The typical buyer decision-making process model
Awareness of need/desire, leading to Information search, leading to Evaluation of options, leading to Decision to purchase, leading to Post-purchase decision.
Don't be misled - the actual process is not neatly linear. We are human, and humans are messy; we're dealing with emotions, remember? So the real process is iterative, with stops and starts and sometimes even bail-outs.
1. Awareness of need/desire
Impossible to tell which emotional drive it is, as the catalyst may have been any one of a number of events. Perhaps something broke, or he intends to buy a gift, or he intends to reward himself.
It could be functional (new kettle or dishwasher), social (luxury or trendy item, or something with "bragging rights"), or boredom-driven (he thinks it's time for a change).
He has this void, and sets about filling it, once he experiences a degree of urgency, pressure, or inconvenience.
2. Information Search
This phase may be fast or slow. New kettle = pretty fast. New car = pretty slow. Raphael will rely on his opinion - internal, based on his life experience, and external, based on information from others and/or marketers.
3. Evaluation of options
He will evaluate on 2 primary aspects - characteristics (features & functions), and subjective criteria (perceived value of the item, and of the brand).
This is a complex process, & may include these factors:
- Benefits compared to cost (benefits should be greater)
- Price compared to cost of ownership
- Value (as perceived by Raphael)
- Ease of use
- Warranties, etc.
4. Decision to purchase
5. Post-purchase evaluation / decision
At this point customer satisfaction, or lack thereof, becomes evident. He decides how he feels then behaves accordingly. Delighted? You have a happy customer referring friends and family to you. Unhappy? He might ask for a refund, or share his unhappiness publicly.
"So what!", you cry
This is rich information that you can use to fix those faltering sales figures.
Before Raphael even becomes aware that he has this void in his life, he should be aware of your existence, your expertise, your product/service that's just waiting for him to turn up in his hour of need.
The earlier you make the emotional connection with him, the better. Do some content marketing. Create an FAQ that showcases your subject matter expertise. Share information about you shiny object, state the facts, the benefits, the solutions it represents.
Make sure you do some brand marketing. Show evidence of value & trustworthiness through testimonials.
Remember that consumers use social media to have conversations, & to make connections. Don't push hard-sells on social media. Not appropriate, Peter! Build your brand awareness. Make emotional connections through conversations & positive customer experiences.
On social media, you are not in charge - your potential and actual customers are. Good opportunities to find out what they really think, what they're saying, and what voids they consider filling this week.
Once Raphael is aware of his problem, he should already associate you with the solution. At the least, you should be positioned for inclusion in his search results.
You do this by providing content to your potential customers to help themselves. You're a plumber? How about you tell me what to do about my burst water pipe at 3:00 am? If your advice works, you're the guy I'm going to call to fix it.
Your blog helped me figure out how resolve my cash flow issues? You're the person I'll talk to about expanding my services range.
If he is aware of you / your brand, Raphael is likely to include you in his information search. Path of least effort, see?
This is where you need to be confident that all the information he needs to make his decision is already available to him, to bias his decision in your favour.
You can help him here. How about a compare-and-contrast table table of salient aspects, between your product and some of your competitors?
Remember, you're building trust and relationship. So you want to extend his engagement with you. Yes, even if your shiny object is not exactly what he needs right now.
Be helpful! Note that we are all a little weary of pushy marketing and unnecessarily complicated processes - so keep it simple.
Give him trustworthy information about your shiny object in the simplest way - help him make his decision.
Raphael makes his decision - yes! He's buying your shiny object. Reinforce his decision positively. Remind him gently how your object will solve his problem. Ensure that he feels confident in his decision.
As Raphael makes his purchase, your process must be smooth & trouble-free. No glitches. The minimum of process steps without compromising functionality. Note that an perceived negative experience now might derail the whole process, and cost you the sale. So be nice, be supportive, keep wooing him.
After the transaction, while Raphael is going through his post-purchase evaluation, and deciding whether it was worth it, make sure he feels good about you & your brand. Resolve any issues promptly, & address any questions or concerns as soon as possible.
Do a follow-up of some sort. Email or a survey? Thank him for his purchase. If it's an information product, ask him how he's progressing. Talk to him as a human being, so you can be more than just a peddler of goods, to him.
After all, next month he will have new problems to solve, and so will his family, friends, peers, and neighbours.
- Engel, Blackwell, and Kollat
- Lisa-May Hube
- Fanny Perreau
- Dave Dee
- John-Paul Iwuoha
- Zig Ziglar
- And that small child throwing a magnificent tantrum.