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The prospects go through a number of buyer or “customer experience” stages (education, awareness, consideration, evaluation, justification, commitment, and purchase).  Then they become customers. Yaay! The better you understand the buyer’s journey, the better your business development lifecycle and plan will be. Ask yourself, all the time, what would the customer think of this (what I’m saying, emailing, advertising, promoting, presenting, promising)?

The skill in building a customer journey is to take your customer’s viewpoint into account and map your actions, resources, communication, analysis and responsiveness to their needs at any given moment.

So at its simplest, a buyer’s journey is a series of steps from awareness that they have a problem, consideration of solutions and decision to buy one of the solutions. And this applies whether you’re hungry, looking for a car, or buying a product or service for your business.

Buyers journey

Thanks to suncoastsocial.com for the easy to understand diagram.

Using a customer journey to ‘get’ where you customers are makes you more customer-centric. Customer-centric organizations do better. It’s that simple. They get customers easier, they make more profit, their valuation is higher.

Grasping the customer’s journey isn’t easy. For example, if you misunderstand the customer experience and its different stages, you can make the mistake of trying to sell customers something when they’re not yet ready to buy. From their point of view that appears pushy (customers complain about that a lot and you’ve probably experienced it yourself, as a customer).

To engage early on in your customer’s journey, you have to abandon ‘selling’ and be willing to contribute to customers’ research and planning. This means being willing to educate them and might even include suggesting that they look at solutions that aren’t yours. Ouch, that hurts!

But if you aren’t willing to walk away when you see that the customer isn’t looking for exactly what you have to offer, you’ll end up chasing customers who don’t really want to buy what you’re offering and wasting time trying to convince them that they do. Mostly, they simply won’t return your calls.

When customers gather information, they start to shape their judgments on what help they need and what they can do themselves, what’s valuable, what’s not, how long it should take, how much it will or should cost. You’re faced with pre-conceived ideas and judgments that you may have to upset before you can sell your services. Of course, you should only sell your services if the customer needs them and they really are a fit. That doesn’t mean that, initially, the customer has to agree with you that the purchase is a great idea, but they do need to be open and listening and you need to be showing them the value, so that they come around.