Buyers today are a fickle group. Who's to blame them? Bombarded with an endless selection of products and services, making a good purchase decision isn't easy. What can your small business do when your potential buyers won't buy?
Tackling the buying resistance problem begins with understanding how consumers or companies make buying decisions. Buyers will typically go through various stages to make the decision to purchase. These stages occur in varying degrees depending on the complexity of the purchase and the buyer's behavior. The following shows the buying stages and methods to break the resistance.
5 Stages of Consumer Buying Behavior
1. Need Awareness: The beginning point of most purchasing is your potential buyer recognition of a need in their life. This need can be established by encountering a problem or prompted by a company's marketing.
Break the resistance of no need by aligning your marketing with the current needs and wants of your market. Use market research in the form of surveys, focus groups, and informal interviews to determine your potential buyer's hot buttons or needs.
2. Information Search: With the rise of the Internet, it has never been easier for buyers to research their purchase. Make sure your small business is in the game by providing educational material on your website.
Break the resistance of lack of education by adding an educational seminar to your marketing mix. During my time at NordicTrack, one location had the lowest conversion in North America. By offering a free educational fitness seminar, we were able to accelerate the purchase decision and improve conversion rates. Seminars with the power to shape buyers behavior are void of product and service promotion. You must offer a true educational experience to the consumer to succeed.
3. Check Options: After an information search, the customer will evaluate all the available options. Options include wanted features, pricing, and company credibility.
Break the resistance of no trust by having others sing the praises of your business. Trust and credibility are in low supply for many buyers. Instead of trumpeting your greatness to your buyers who have their guard up, try a third party validation. Have others ( awards, media, customer testimonies, ) sing your praises to establish more trust and credibility.
4. Purchase Decision: This is the moment when the customer wants to buy. Deals are easily lost when you keep selling to the customer. There's an old adage in sales, when the customer says, "I'll take it," keep your mouth closed, and close the deal.
Break the resistance of a buyer's final hesitation by making a recommendation. In a sea of choices, consumers want to buy the best product for themselves and make the right choice. You're the expert. Help your buyer by telling them what and why you recommend a certain product or service.
5. Post Buying Behavior: An overlooked piece of consumer buying behavior is what occurs after the purchase. The buyer will look for reinforcement from media, friends, and other sources confirming they made the right decision. Cognitive dissonance or "buyer's remorse" happens when the buyer begins to feel the purchase wasn't right for them.
Overcome the purchaser's regret by offering warranties, after purchase follow-up calls, and extended trial periods. Too many companies forget the customer after the sale. Establish a habit of calling all customers after they have purchased and used your product or service.
Success for small business requires developing a full understanding of what occurs in the minds of your customers during and after the purchasing. Apply your knowledge of customer buying behavior to outsmart your competition and win more business.