Move Over Sales Funnel and Make Room for the Buyer's Journey
Ah, the sales funnel – the backbone of most selling organizations, often functioning as a vital part to understanding your sales and marketing activity. A sales funnel will help you to track your customers as they move through the funnel and give some insight into the buying process.
All great – just one problem – the sales funnel is a company focused tool.
What about the buyer?
Today’s Buyer/Seller Dynamic
Gone are the days when a buyer needed a sales rep to tell them about a product’s features and benefits. As buyers’ knowledge has continued to increase, their willingness to be pitched to, or sold to has dramatically decreased. Customers want to be educated – beyond what can be found on the internet.
Research has shown that up to 57% of the sales process today is already completed before a lead contacts a salesperson and that 67% of the purchasing journey is now done digitally. (curata blog - Buyer’s Journey Demystified by Forrester)
As selling behavior needs to change, selling focus also needs to change – and that is to the buyer.
Enter the Buyer’s Journey, where the focus in on the buyer rather than how the buyer impacts the sales force. Once just the cornerstone of inbound marketing, it is playing an increasingly important role for sales teams as well. Understanding the buyer’s journey will help you understand what drives a particular buyers’ persona to go through the journey and buy your product. Analyzing this journey will provide you the complete picture of why a customer bought your product/service.
Three Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Generally, the Buyer’s Journey has 3 major stages: Awareness, Consideration, Decision
Awareness Stage: At this early stage, the buyer becomes aware that there is an issue to be resolved, or an opportunity they wish to pursue. Symptoms have been identified, but not what’s causing them or how they are going to treat them. At this stage – both marketing and sales should offer content that educates potential buyers about the issues or opportunities without attempting to sell to them directly.
Consideration Stage: The buyer has now defined their issue or opportunity and they are ready to respond to it. They begin to look at different services and approaches that are available to resolve their problems. Now the content that sales reps use should focus on educating the buyer about the solutions you have to offer.
Decision Stage: Finally, the buyer has decided upon a solution, so it’s time for sales to sell their company as the best provider of the solution. The information sales should be offering is content and resources that can educate the buyer about what they have to offer.
Content that is developed around the buyer’s journey will leave customers that feel empowered and positive about their experience.
When using a buyer’s journey there needs to be the awareness that it is the buyer who moves themselves to the next stage. At each stage, the sales rep’s value is the content they provide as they continue to relationship build with the buyer.
While the sales funnel will always have a place within a selling organization; it can no longer stand alone. It needs to make room for the Buyer’s Journey.