Thanks to the digital revolution, people are not buying things the way they used to—they just aren't. The old sales funnel we knew for decades is long gone.
As entrepreneurs, this means that you now need to build your business growth strategies differently in order to capture buyers on their journey, not yours. Since the buyer’s journey is an essential framework for any marketing strategy, you must start to think like your buyer and understand the steps he or she is taking to make a purchase decision.
This new mindset is crucial if you are going build your sales volume fast enough to succeed.
How Has the Buying Game Changed?
Today, consumers have learned new ways to find solutions to their needs and answers to their questions. They search—on Google, Amazon, eBay, Overstock.com and a million other places.
Like it or not, it's now a buyer’s market where people do their own research to:
- Define what they think they need.
- Choose from options that come up on the first page of search engines. (If you're not on the first page, you won't get a sniff.)
- Get key information from review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List.
- Read articles and blogs about their problem, question, illness, etc. and the various solutions that are out there.
- Surf social media to see what others are saying about what they're searching for.
- Compare prices to see who's got the best deal.
- Make a purchase, taking into account shipping costs and return policies.
- Receive the package (usually several packages from several purchases) and return the one(s) they don’t like.
- Go back to the web to check out a forum or review site to reassure themselves that they bought the right solution or product, and maybe to review it themselves.
This is the buyer’s journey, and it's as important for business purchases as for consumer products, eliminating the need for a "middleman" distribution channel, as manufacturers are now going directly to the end user.
Your Role in the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey involves the stages of a purchaser's progression through the acknowledgment, research and decision process that ultimately results in a sale.
Understanding the buyer’s journey of your target market is crucial because it enables you to ask the right questions that will ultimately help you close that deal or sale. Without following buyers on their journey, you can lose potential customers without even realizing it.
The Three Phases of the Buyer’s Journey:
1. Awareness Stage
In this initial step, the Awareness Stage, the potential buyer realizes a need or desire for a certain product or service—they recognize that they have a problem. When these prospects are aware of their pain points, they seek for ways to resolve them or search for information to answer their questions.
2. Consideration Stage
The Consideration Stage is all about defining the problem and researching options to solve it. The potential buyer is now ready to evaluate the different solutions that are available to them. They’re considering multiple categories, turning to Google, Amazon, social media and .com websites for answers and information. At this point, awareness has shifted to recognizing the need for a higher level of understanding of the problem.
During the Consideration Stage, the buyer narrows possible solutions as a result of their extensive research. Because this phase offers you opportunities to qualify as one of the choices worth exploring, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- How do buyers learn more about the various categories?
- How do they analyze the pros and cons involved in each category?
- What leads them to decide which category is best?
3. Decision Stage
The last and final stage of the buyer’s journey is the Decision Stage, the point where the buyer has decided on the category that will offer the best solution to their problem. By this stage, they have narrowed down their decision to a specific vendor or tool. Further questions you should ask yourself:
- How are buyers evaluating the available offerings?
- What do they like? What do they hate?
- How are they comparing your offerings to alternatives?
- Who is involved in the decision-making?
- Would they sample your product before deciding to purchase?
For the New Entrepreneur, the Buyer's Journey Really Matters!
As an entrepreneur just starting out, it's critical to create demand for your new products or solutions or services. How can you capitalize on the buyer’s journey to build your new business?
At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we are partners in an Inbound Marketing platform called HubSpot which is built around the idea of the buyer's journey. We've written a white paper in which we take you step by step through the process and how to measure results. You can access it for free here.
For More on the Buyer's Journey, 4 Blogs to Read
- Blog: How to Choose the Right Inbound Marketing Company
- Blog: SEO is Just Part of the Inbound Equation
- Blog: Mastering Inbound Marketing—Part 1 Attract
- Blog: Mastering Inbound Marketing—Part 2 Convert
Could Your Entrepreneurial Business Benefit From SAMC's
At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we specialize in helping companies grow. Our 6-Step Process is designed for entrepreneurs who need innovative business strategies so they can adapt to changing times. Please contact us to discuss how we might help your organization capitalize on the buyer's journey so you can capture customers and thrive. We look forward to hearing from you.
From Observation to Innovation,
Andy Simon, Partner
Simon Associates Management Consultants
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