The Buyer’s Journey: One Step At A Time
Most sales people focus on the outcome of the deal. They want to get to the close and an order as fast as possible. Managers constantly reinforce this rush to completion in their “coaching conversations,” by asking, “When are we going to get this deal?” or “We need this to close this quarter!”
Everything we do is focused on jumping to the end of the buying process. We start pitching our solution before we even understand what the customer is trying to achieve. We try to present the value the customer might get, before we understand what the customer values.
We do what we do almost independently of the customer’s buying journey, as a result, too often we get out of step with the customer. We want the customer to be in one place of their buying journey (making a decision), inevitably the customer is at a completely different place in their journey.
The more we are out of step with the customer, the greater the chasm we create between the customer and us. As a result, our probability of success plummets.
Simplistically, if we look at a classic buying stage model, for every stage of misalignment, our probability of winning reduces by 20-25%. For example, in a 3 stage process, if the customer is in stage 1 (problem determination, needs identification) and we are in stage 3 (presenting our solution), our probability of winning is reduced by 20-50%!
The customer has to go through all the steps. In fact, they will wander, they will need to go back, retracing their steps. They will get lost, perhaps not knowing what the next step is.
We create the greatest value with the customer when we are aligned with them. When we are in lock-step with them, helping them move through their buying journey–step by step.
They need to go through all the steps, even though we want them to skip to the end. It’s part of their learning process, it’s how they align themselves around what they want to achieve, how to do it, why they are doing it in the first place.
The more steps they skip (and they may be tempted to skip steps), the greater risk they create for themselves–either in making a decision or in implementing a solution.
It’s the buyer’s journey, we have to be prepared to navigate it with them. If we are to be successful, if we are to create the greatest value at every step of their journey, we have to be helping them at each step, we have to help them navigate these steps as effectively as they can, we have to help them move from step to step as rapidly as they are capable.
Too often, we focus on our journey and are not prepared to accompany the customer on theirs.