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5 strategies for getting in early in the customer’s buying cycle

Finding the perfect moment to engage with your customer’s buying cycle can be achieved by implementing five strategies explains Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams

Many sales people will attest to the risks of encountering a customer late in the buying cycle, keenly felt in all sales environments but no more so than when the complex sale is involved.  The buyer they find will most likely have seen the competitors offering and they’ll probably have formulated their own ideas of the product or service that they want to buy based on the features of someone else’s solution.

Once in this position, it can be a major challenge for sales people to unpick what the customer already thinks they want and to change their mindset to consider alternatives that may be a much better fit for their organisation.

As the concept of ‘communicating value’ becomes more mainstream in organisations attempting to improve their conversion rate, it’s crucial to really get under the customer’s skin, to understand their problems and to prescribe a solution that will really help the customer’s business.; They can only do this effectively by being present at the right place and time.  Here are 5 top tips for getting in early in the customer’s buying process

1.          Know the customer’s buying process

Many sales people learn about their own organisation’s sales process – they know each stage in detail and how this impacts on the data that they put into the CRM and they organise their time and activity accordingly.  Unfortunately, what they fail to realise is that the customer may have a completely different approach to buying a product or service.  A fundamental activity of all sales people should be to get to know the customer’s buying process, what the trigger points are and who the key decision makers are in the process. are Only then can they work out, when they need to talk to the customer and what they need to say.

2.          Invest time in lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is all about recognising that there are plenty of good leads that aren’t quite ready yet to convert to a sale. Its worthwhile   knowing what the sales person can do proactively during this ‘dormant’ time.  This is an important point to note because in most cases the buyer isn’t really dormant, the thinking formulated by a buyer happens even before the formal buying process has begun.  Effective sales people will be finding strategies to stay in contact, share information and showcase success stories etc. in order to make sure that the customer’s opinion and impression is developed in line with what the sales person wants to communicate.

3.          Develop product awareness

Linked to lead nurturing, another important activity is to continue to build product awareness, even when a transaction isn’t on the table.  Sales people should be working with marketing and other functions within the business to make sure that the product or service is never far from the customers mind.  This should be through obvious routes like advertising and PR but also by using tools easily available to the sales person – social media, publicising customer testimonials, sharing success stories and networking.

4.          Use questions to become a trusted advisor so you can educate the customer

The aim of getting in early is to create a situation with the customer where a two -way conversation can be had.  By asking questions about the problems or challenges that the customer faces, sales people can open up a discussion where they can share advice and alternatives and essentially collaborate with the customer to find an appropriate solution, linked to the product or service the sales person is selling.  Even if the conversations aren’t related directly to a particular sales transaction, over time, this process can build higher levels of trust which is critical in a buyer / seller relationship.

5.          Know the customer’s triggers to buy

One of the benefits of getting in early, is that it gives sales people a higher level of control in navigating and pushing the buying process forward.  If sales people ask the right questions, it will be possible for them to identify the triggers that will tip the customer into the next stage of the process and eventually into a purchase.  Sales people should actively identify these triggers and as importantly prepare their messages and approach to activate these triggers.

By upskilling your sales team to implement these five strategies you can be assured that your customers will see your organisation as a trusted advisor with people they continue to want to do business with.