How Can You Save The Day If They Can't Find You?

Jennifer Schulze

The buyer’s journey and the conversion hero

Your prospects have a problem, and they are out there looking for a solution.  They want that hero who makes their business challenges go away easily.  Are you in the places they are looking? If not, you certainly won’t get found.

Understanding the complete buyer’s journey, from the explore stage to evaluate and finally buy, can make a big difference in the success of your close rate. Let’s examine tools that that illuminate what the buyer or customer needs at each stage so we’re taken seriously.

Why does this matter ? The buyers you want are more informed than ever, and if they can’t find you, or if you don’t relay consistent messages and competencies, you will get left behind.  You need to be sure that as they hunt for their hero (whom you strive to be), you are where they are going—and are having credible conversations with them (both online and in person.)

Explore

Customers typically need time to explore their options; they want to see what’s available in the market and get at least a sense of what they think they want. It’s important to remember that a hard sell will fail every time when the buyer is at this stage.

Shopping can be stressful, so give the buyer room. People are motivated to shop by loss or need—either something isn’t working right or they have a problem they can’t solve. They face pressure from two sides: They can’t remain in their current state, but they’re afraid to make a bad investment. Buyer actions that characterize this stage include online browsing, “follows” on social media, and attendance at trade shows. Research shows that 72% of buyers begin this phase with Google searches.

This is known as the Call to Adventure. Heroes always refuse the call until a dramatic event occurs, like a visit from magical creature or a wise adviser. With that in mind, make sure all the content you provide contains both the “magic” that makes your company special and the wisdom of practical benefits. Prioritize the pain points of the buyer and speak to them in their language.

Evaluate

The game just got serious. In the evaluate phase, the buyer eliminates the bottom tier of options and looks more closely at solutions that work best for a particular situation. Buyer actions at this stage include visiting additional pages on the company website and spending more time on each page. They read reviews, ask questions, download white papers, attend introductory webinars, and read about specific companies on industry news channels. They often reach out through social networks for advice.

In the Hero’s Journey, this is the Sword Bridge, or the Threshold. It’s up to you to get them the content they need to get across the bridge and decide you are the best choice. Web analytics and marketing automation are the best tools to identify what each individual buyer is reading and posting at this point. Use this data to buy sponsored posts on their preferred social feeds. Tailor your conversation to specific buyer concerns. Justify the purchase with content that includes ROI and hard numbers on implementations.

Buy

Once a customer is at the buy stage, it should be clear that you are their preferred choice, but it’s still not as simple as taking a credit card or generating an invoice. There are dragons yet to fight, and the buyer could pull away if you don’t quickly provide the assurances they need.

The buyer may struggle with budgetary approval. IT resources might not be available yet. Maybe they’re facing an internal audit that precludes any purchase from being made. Know your buyer and focus your resources on solving their last obstacles to purchase.

This is the Revelation stage in the Hero’s Journey—the point where the hero realizes that he had what he needed to win the fight all along. Your job is to make the purchase easy for the buyer, which may mean something different in every opportunity. Provide detailed case studies and testimonials and help them make their case with other decision makers.

Safe harbor

Congratulations! Your buyer has conquered the dragons of delay and transformed into a new customer. Take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment, but only a moment. A new threat is on the horizon, and its name is Churn. Secure your customer before they seek out a new supplier.  You want them to stay with you after all the time you’ve put in to making sure they know the value you can and will bring.  The next step is to hold on to them by making them feel valued so they grow into brand advocates. When customers tell their friends great things about your company and return to buy more, then you can truly say you’ve won the day.

Want to learn more? Engage Customer in the Right Ways.


About Jennifer Schulze

Jennifer Schulze is Vice President of marketing for SAP. In her role, she manages customer marketing as part of the office of the COO. She has over 15 years of technology marketing and management experience and is a small business owner in the San Francisco Bay area.