Having a clear understanding of your Buyers, their Buying Behaviour and their Buyer Cycle will provide a solid foundation to help you build effective prospecting and sales relationships.
Apply these principles to the next conversation you have with a prospect, to your next email, and to social prospecting in LinkedIn and you could start to see a dramatic improvement in responses.
The emotional side of relationship building can be enhanced by rewarding the behaviour you are trying to encourage. And, if you’re a sales leader you’ll need a number of tools in your bag to use at appropriate times. This could just be a very valuable technique to build into your sales methods, if you don’t already use it.
Simple Buyer Cycle – AIDA
Our starting point is to highlight that there’s still a lot of value in the AIDA pneumonic from the 1960s:
Our extension of this is to add on:
In complex purchase typical of B2B situations there isn’t the instant gratification of ownership or consumption that is the post-purchase reward typical of a B2C transaction. However, the principle still applies in B2B, it’s just we need to be more creative (and ethical) with the rewards offered.
Small steps to make a purchase
Making a purchase can be a straight forward process, particularly with simple purchases. For more complex purchases there are multiple steps and stages to go through. The buyer may well go through some of these stages with multiple potential supplier.
Consider the different ‘ACTION’ stages that a buyer may take is the heart of understanding the process.
- The ACTION may be commitment of attention – to respond to a call for attention, the advert, the email subject line, the ‘Like’ of a friend or influencer and the decisions to investigate to see what they’ve found so interesting.
- The ACTION may be the commitment of time – to attend a meeting, a webinar, to read an article or the many other activities that are needed to investigate and research a solution and a supplier.
- The ACTION may be the commitment of money – the purchase, contract, payment and associated activity. Here there is a commercial commitment which will have a lot of risk associated.
There may well be several ‘ACTION’ steps to make a purchase, especially when there are multiple decision-makers.
Rewarding Action in the B2B Buyer Cycle
Meeting and exceeding expectations is a significant part of winning hearts and minds of customers and prospects.
Having got attention based on an advert, email headline, voicemail or other method there needs to be a quick payback to pass the nano-second judgement of ‘is this worthwhile’ taking the next step.
Having committed time to reading or viewing or meeting etc. there needs again to be a significant payback to the prospect to justify the time commitment, whether this is seconds, minutes hours or days. Time is money for people in business and there is no shortage of calls on time. The message, content or other ‘fulfillment’ needs to amuse, inform, educate, inspire or in other ways impress the reader or viewer.
And then having made a purchase the customer needs to obtain the reward ahead of their expectations, either more quickly, at less cost or higher than anticipated, in order to feel very positive about the decision and investment they have made.
How are you aligning with your buyer cycle?
Take a moment to review a current sales campaign and see if you can:
- Identify the multiple steps that your buyers go through to make a purchase.
- Prioritise these based on number of buyers going through a step and the impact it has on their purchase.
- Consider each of the marketing and sales elements you have created.
- Evaluate each element for how well it meets one or more of the buyer steps above.
- Focus more time and resources on those high impact activities.
- Back your winners, and look for more ways to develop and enhance them
- Reduce time and resources on those activities that do not produce a healthy result.
- There’s no value in continuing to do things that add little or no value to your prospects.
- Consider learning from and eliminating those elements that are low value and low volume.
However, innovation is important, so do spend some time and resource to evaluate and pilot new approaches, and keep in tune with changes on the buyer cycle that your prospects and customers go through.
Rewarding Action through LinkedIn
A good way to do this in LinkedIn is to have some valuable content to direct people to. This could be on a broadcast basis, through Status Updates, to smaller groups through LinkedIn Email-shots, or 1:1 using the LinkedIn messaging system.
Another is to thank people in a public way, especially if they have added comments and shared your content with their connections.
What ways do you use to reward your prospect and customers?