Every potential customer you have will go through some sort of buying cycle. There are all sorts of different incarnations of the cycle but, broadly speaking, they will follow the 5 stages below. The big question I’m often asked is: as a supplier, what is our role in the buying cycle and when should we get involved? The short answer: every step of the way!
I’ve outlined below each stage of the buying cycle and what you should aim for your role to be, as a supplier, during each stage.
Buying Cycle stage 1: Recognising there’s a problem.
Your role – Get to know your potential customer and ask them what their priorities are. By building a relationship you can talk to them about their future challenges and build a need.
Buying Cycle stage 2: Searching for solutions
Your role – Listen to your potential customer; what do they think they need to solve their problem? By understanding their needs you can work together on identifying the issues and help them frame the type of solution they require.
Buying Cycle stage 3: Creating a shortlist of solutions
Your role – Be the service/product expert for your potential customer. Explain what your product/solution will help them achieve and compare it to alternatives – focus on outcomes.
Buying Cycle stage 4: Finding providers who provide the chosen solution and selecting one
Your role – Be the trusted advisor to your potential customer and the ambassador for your service/product. Discuss your value proposition and what sets you apart from the others.
Buying Cycle stage 5: Making a buying decision
Your role – By now you will have created a strong relationship with your potential customer, shown that you understand their needs and will have demonstrated how your product/service will solve their problems. Now you need to make the purchase process as straightforward as possible and focus on the great experience they will have with you once the contract is signed!
Essentially, the buying cycle is the process your customers go through when they realise they have a problem and are looking for a solution. For maximum success, take control of the process and get involved from the start.