The average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years. This change is due to an increase in decision makers involved in the buying process. (Source: Sirius Decisions). These decision makers are no longer just sales reps and consumers. The era of cold-calls and sales pitches has given way to savvy digital sales cycles built on behavioral analytics, intent marketing, and inbound sales. In this digital climate, marketing and sales processes are more aligned than ever before. This article provides an introduction to knowing and leveraging the Buying Decision Process (BDP) of sales cycles. Knowing the BDP can help both marketers and sales professionals lead the way.
The BDP a buyer will follow is fivefold and communicates the complexity of a buyer’s drive to purchase. This process turns the gears of the sales world.
- The primary motive for a buyer to purchase is need provoked by internal and external stimuli. Internal stimuli are needs like hunger and thirst, while external stimuli are advertisements or nostalgic triggers (such as the smell of fresh baked muffins) that inspire you as the buyer to assess your need and look into what will best satisfy it.
- The Information Search Stage focuses on a buyer seeking out the best fit for their needs. Maybe the smell of the muffins your co-worker was scarfing down brought on a desire to find the best bakery within a 10 block radius. You will look through Yelp and assess the ratings and reviews. Maybe you’ll recall your friend saying there was a great bakery 6 blocks away. A PPC ad on Google may have just what you’re looking for. In the digital age the Information Search Stage is more intuitive and present than ever.
- Depending on the magnitude of your need, you’ll want to make sure you’re finding yourself the best muffins in the area. The first and almost immediate step is assessing your options and Evaluation of Alternatives. Searching online ratings and reviews, browsing through a magazine you had on your desk, or taking your friend up on their suggestion are all factors that influence your approach.
- You have finally made up your Purchase Decision and you’re going with the independent bakery 6 blocks away that had a 4.5 star review on Yelp. Any negative feedback from other buyers and your willingness for it to influence your decision are two factors that may affect your final purchasing decision. (Philip Kotler, 2009) Perhaps a review stated that there was a nutshell in a muffin they so eagerly bit into, prompting them to have to spend the day at the dentist’s office bonding their two front teeth back on! Nobody wants that and neither do you, so you move on to the next alternative.
- Buyers Post-Purchase Behavior will indicate whether a product was successful in meeting the buyer’s expectations. If you chose the bakery down the block with a 4 star review but no broken tooth reviews, and it proved to be exactly what you wanted, with all teeth intact, odds are you’ll be visiting there again. Ultimately that bakery has succeeded in retaining you as a customer and more importantly, a repeat customer. Your personal review on social media will further enhance the positive marketing that particular business maintains, simply by providing you with a positive experience.
With this being said, if buyers are seeking something, they will mainly do so online. Whatever marketing awaits them at the beginning of their search will ultimately decide whether sales reps will ever speak to potential buyers. New customer acquisition is now shared by the marketing world. Having a platform that combines the sales and marketing worlds and shortens the sales cycle will ensure that buyers buy from you. However, if your marketing and sales teams are not sharing crucial intel, are utilizing different software, or have disjointed information and analytics, no sales will occur. The fivefold path will mean nothing to your business if a buyer has been dissuaded from purchasing from you altogether due to a marketing lapse, such as miscommunicated consumer information to the sales team. Throughout the stages of a Buyer’s Decision Process, marketing is crucial in providing a buyer with the information they need to move onto the next steps.
For businesses, marketers are essential in passing along the necessary details needed for sales reps to establish a connection with buyers and close a sale. The individual needs, challenges, and questions of a buyer need to be clearly understood by marketers, in order to prime the sales team to pass the prospect through the pipeline and seal the deal. Likewise, sales teams understand their product and their sales process. They know what works and what doesn’t.
Communicating these sales patterns, successes, and failures back to the marketing team ensures that they effectively target all potential leads together. Having an operative automation platform that integrates intelligent multi-channel lead nurturing along with dynamic seamless stacks will allow marketers and sales reps to work together in disseminating consumer data and constructing the perfect marketing and sales pitches necessary to make those deals.
Excellent communication coupled with access to quality information shared by both marketing and sales will ensure that there is proper alignment of needs and goals. You’re on the same battle field and on the same side — nothing is more crucial to success than knowledge.