The top rainmakers tend to be talking with prospects before they are ready to buy. This is because the earlier you can get to a client, the more likely you will be the one they trust to help them solve their problems. However, to do this, you need to understand what they are thinking, and what they are interested in as they go through their journey as a buyer. This article explores the 5 discreet stages a buyer will go through. The journey a buyer makes before they buy from an external supplier tends to have 5 discreet stages:
1. Everything is fine
This is the stage when your buyer has no need of your services. It could be that everything is absolutely fine without the proverbial cloud in the sky. Or that if they do have problems they need to fix they are already working on them with an internal resource or an external supplier.
2. I know I have some problems
Your buyer has now moved on from everything being fine to knowing that he or she has a problem. Now this could be a minor niggle which they are happy to ignore, or a full-blown crisis, which they need to fix right now. Part of your research will establish what problems they are motivated to solve, and which ones they are motivated to solve by using an external supplier. When you know the problems they are coming up against, you can bet that they will be consciously or sub-consciously looking for answers to their problems. If your content will help them find the answers or demonstrate to them that they have a problem, which needs to be fixed, you will have started the process of generating a lead.
3. I have decided what I need to do about my problem.
Now that your buyer has researched his or her problem he or she will have a clear idea of the outcome they want. This could be as simple as do nothing, or call in the consultants to help them on a multi-million pound 3 year project. At this stage they may not have decided exactly how they will solve their problem. What they have decided is the desired outcome they require. A typical buyer at this stage will have very rational questions they want to answer, such as:
- Who can help me fix my problem?
- How much will it cost?
- What are the risks with choosing one course of action?
- What are the steps in the process to fix my problem?
4. Finding people to help me choose the right solution
It is at this point that most buyers will actively look for a supplier to help them decide on the right solution to solve their problem. They will then spend time with a selection of suppliers to refine their ideal solution and who is the right person to help them achieve it. If the buyer has been engaging with you (or your content) much earlier in their journey, it is very likely that they will actively make contact with you to see how you can help them.
5. Taking the decision to buy
The buyer has now decided on the solution and supplier they will use to help them achieve their desired outcome. Very often this stage in the buying journey is known as the ‘closing the deal’ part of the process.