Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Buyer’s Journey

The Sales Cycle is dead. It has out lived its usefulness. Why? Because the sales cycle is all about us and our interests and not about the customer or his/her interests. The sales cycle is something that we do to the customer and not for the customer. We have all seen sales cycles that were driven by internal factors such as making the end of the quarter number or additional discounts designed to stimulate demand to offset a short fall in sales. This is about us and not them.

Consider the various steps of the sales cycle: Prospecting, Qualifying, Needs Identification, Proposing, Negotiating and Close. This language describes where we are in a series of actions that result in ‘closing’ the prospect.

The world has changed, things have moved on. Today, success in sales is all about understanding how people make buying decisions. The Sales Cycles has been replaced by the Buyer Decision Process. The good news is that there are 5 simple steps in the Buyer Decision Process and they always occur in exactly the same sequence. So then success in sales today comes from understanding where your prospects and customers are in the Buyer Decision Process and helping them move to the next decision step. Success in sales today means helping people to buy. ie. Put yourself on the same side of the table as them. This means replacing our traditional selling-centric paradigm with a buying-centric paradigm.

The 5 steps of the Buyer Decision Process*:

1. Person: You must always start here to create trust and personal credibility. The buyer won’t go the next decision step until you have successfully completed this step.

2. Company: ‘Sell’ your company before you start to ‘sell’ your product or service. Over look this step at your own peril.

3. Product: Many of us start here and spend most of our time on this decision step. Why? Comfort factor, probably. We understand our products and services, and we want to show our people how knowledgeable we are. In reality, most buyers today have done extensive research online. They know exactly what they are looking for and often they know as much or more about a specific product or service than we do.

4. Price (Value): Most buyers have done their homework and know exactly or have a very good idea what prices are and which products and services fit their budget and which one don’t. Help buyers navigate this step by validating their product choice and advising them on different options, packages, service bundles that will deliver superior value to the bottom line in their usage scenario.

5. Why Now? This is where you can be of real service to your prospects and customers. How often have you seen a prospect fly through steps 1 through 4 of the buyer decision process only to arrive at this step and suddenly get stuck in ‘inability to make a decision’ or ‘indecision to take action’. Your role here is simple. Create a sense of urgency by pointing out all the reasons why the buyer needs to take immediate action and more importantly help the buyer to calculate the cost of indecision or delay.

Remember. Everyone goes through exactly this decision process when making a buying decision. All you have to do is determine where they are in the process and provide the required information by asking insightful diagnostic questions that will help move their thinking to the next decision step in the process. Do this and you will add value by helping your prospects and customers make logical, rational buying and investment decisions. Use the Buyer Decision Process and your prospects and customers will reward you with more and higher value buying decisions.

*based on ideas from the book: Action Selling by Duane Sparks, The Sales Board, Inc.


Blandine said...

Thanks David.
This is a new way of looking at sales.But when reading your demo it looks so obvious that I thought: why did not I act like this before?

Promise, I follow your advices right away and I do believe my sales rate will climb the ladder!

Ian Berry said...

Excellent advice as usual David

Andy McLeod said...


Need some advice on no 5. Particularly having told us discounts as enducements are a no-no. What other tools do we sales guys have to drive the customer to a decision? This is where the "old" and the "new" model collide. It is all about who is in control.

CraigElias - Creator of Trigger Event Selling said...

To answer Andy's request about advice on #5 -

David's point about why now is where most sales people and sales management / leadership miss the opportunity to harness the 'Trigger Events' that create the sense of urgency.

McKinsey & Co. recently validated the importance of 'Trigger Events' in it's research of almost 20,000 people, in the three geographic regions, in five different industries.

The research showed that a 'Trigger Event' always comes before the decision making journey.

McKinsey provides a five minute interactive video on thier research here -

On many occasions, after experiencing a 'Trigger Event' and developing a sense of urgency, decision makers move through all five steps with a single supplier.

If you want that supplier to be you, you need to reach these recently motivated decision makers BEFORE THE COMPETITION.

One way to do that is to identify the 'Trigger Events' that create the sense of urgency.

If readers want to identify the best 'Trigger Events' for creating a sense of urgency around what they sell they can download the Won Sales Analysis template and instructions on how to use it here -

I look forward to learning what other comments people have to say about creating a sense of urgency.


Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree with the order but I think it's a style thing.

I don't discount- EVER! Give additional value- at no cost. I never discount.

David R Ednie said...

Hi Andy,

You ask a great question. I think the answer lies in creating a truly compelling offer. That means getting the buyer to clearly identify and then quantify his/her pain points. This is where the problem often resides. The rule is: BIG pain = BIG solution (I need it now and it’s worth a lot to me to get it resolved). Small problem = small solution (no burning hurry and it better not cost a lot). So selling then is all about Pain development. Help the customer to become more acutely aware of the importance of his/her problem(s) and the financial impact of each day delayed in getting it fixed. Then you can construct a winning proposal with a truly compelling financial justification.

Hope this helps. Best! David

Jimbo, Bear said...

Added value sales is something I have praticed for years!

Anonymous said...

Cheers David.

Berkeley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

maribel driscoll-cicco's son lorenzo does not look anything like john cicco. john cicco is a lying salesman who claimed to be in the navy seal, but he was just a marine who never was. what a liar.

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