Two major factors characterize the customer’s buying journey: increased rigour and decreased resources.
Customers are performing more upfront research and following an increasingly formalized process when exploring buying options. More stakeholders are involved, leading to elevated expectations. Simultaneously, customers are working under constraints as other priorities compete for their attention. Time is in short supply, and stakeholders are dispersed across the organization.
These factors have created a buying journey that is complex, iterative, and twisting. Therefore, it is helpful for sales professionals to understand the buying factors that drive the buying journey. The buying factors are the set of facts, influences, and circumstances that all contribute to the decision to buy or to not buy.
These three dynamic and interrelated factors are:
- The Case for Change: To reach a buying decision, the case for change must be strong enough to prevail against the status quo. It is the sales professional’s job to strengthen the case for change. Doing so means focusing on the solution’s competitive differentiation.
- Stakeholder Dynamics: Managing the stakeholder dynamics means influencing and engaging the group of people who make the decision to buy. Sales professionals need to build relationships, facilitate alignment, and drive consensus.
- Decision Process: The sales professional must help the customer move the decision forward. However, increased complexity makes the decision process difficult to navigate. Momentum can stall as new stakeholders emerge, requirements change, and projects get reprioritized. Many customers put significant time and energy into the process, only to abandon it later. The sales professional’s best tool to overcome this challenge is information. The more they know about how the decision process works, the better prepared they are to be alert to discrepancies and cues revealing who the influencers are in the process.
The three factors discussed above propel the customer through the buying journey. This journey encompasses the spectrum of the buying process from business as usual through implementation of a new solution. This journey consists of five parts in the following order: explore, investigate, evaluate, confirm, and negotiate & commit.
Engaging the modern buyer requires a multifaceted, structured approach. Sales professionals need the ability to identify where they are in the buyer’s journey and what skills to deploy. They must remain vigilant about the customer’s forward and reverse movement through the process. Success requires a partnership between the sales professionals, coaches, and the enablement team.
Discover the skills your sales team needs to engage their buyers throughout their journey and coaching questions sales managers can use to support and enable their teams by downloading the brief: Enabling Sales Teams Through the New Buyer’s Journey.