Aligning Your Sales and Marketing With Your Customers’ Decision Making Process

In the heart of every business is the desire to convert more sales. In the competitive race to win more clients, many organisations focus on advancing the customer through the stages in the sales cycle. It is important to ensure your prospect is progressing through the sales process. However, it is critical that you do not to lose sight of your customers’ decision making process. Orientating your sales and marketing towards the customers decision making process ensures that your prospect naturally moves through the necessary steps in the sales process.

In the typical sales cycle, the sales person will prospect for opportunities. Once a reasonable opportunity is uncovered, the sales person will seek to establish a meeting with the prospect to perform a needs analysis and pitch the company products, services or solutions. Upon a successful meeting the sales person will develop a proposal. The objective is then to close the proposal to win another paying customer.

The danger of being too orientated towards the sales cycle is that it does not focus on the customer, their needs, motivations and decision making progressions. Obstacles in their decision making process will prevent the customer from moving forward in the sales cycle.

For this reason it is important for organisations to align their sales and marketing with their potential customers’ decision making process.

The decision making process can vary from customer to customer or from product to product.

Here is a description of the key ingredients in a buying decision:

Need Arousal: Understand how your customer develops a need for your product or service and ensure that you have marketing efforts in place to stimulate the interest of your target audience. Customers can develop a need for your products by trying them out in stores, product trials or simply by viewing product demonstrations. These are just a few examples. What is important is to ensure that your product or service has a presence at the time and place that your customer would typically develop a need.

Information Search: The customer will then seek information about the product. The customer needs to feel certain that the product or service can fulfil their need. The customer will seek to eliminate the risk that the product or service will not do what they want it to do. It is important that your marketing collateral is thorough and builds the purchasing confidence of your potential customer. Ensure that your marketing information builds desire and confidence. Ensure that your and communications demonstrate how the product or service is aligned with the customers needs.

Evaluation of Alternatives: The customer will arrive at a small range of choices. Each may have their own positive or negative aspects. The customer is looking to determine which product or service is best suited to their needs. At this point it is important to understand what competing products or substitutes you are up against. Ensure that your product or service has the closest match with your customers needs. You may need to offer better value or renegotiate price at this point. Communication with your prospect at this point is critical.

The Decision: This may be made on product benefits and positive attributes that will benefit the customer. There may be numerous stakeholders in the decision. Make sure you do not exclude them. Negative aspects may also play a role. Make sure that you have no deal breakers. The key to success at this point is to ensure that the previous steps are done correctly.

Post Purchase Response: After the sale, the customer will evaluate the purchase decision to ensure that they made the right choice. After sales support and courtesy calls are important to ensure that the customer does not develop buyers remorse. There is no sense in selling a product if the customer returns it the next day. Furthermore, good after sales support will lead to repeat business and ongoing referrals.

Orientating your sales approach towards your customers decision making process is about empathise with your customer and helping to make the buying decision easy for them.