Sales Knowledge

How to better understand the Buyer Journey

Manuel Hartmann
Co-founder & CEO

“Don’t sell to customers, let them buy from you” might sound strange to traditional ABC (Always Be Closing) sales people. It is, however, crucial to understand where a prospect is on their buyer journey and mindset to select a suitable selling style to use with them.

A simple mental model

Think about is by answering these 3 questions on awareness:

  • Problem Awareness: Does the prospect have the problem you are solving? And if yes, is the prospect aware the problem exists and is relevant and urgent to solve?
  • Solution Awareness: Is the prospect aware of the available solutions to tackle the discussed problem? How does the prospect think about these solutions? Does (s)he know you exist?
  • Collaboration Awareness: Is the prospect actively evaluating or even already working with you?

You can then segment a prospect’s situation into these 5 stages:

1. Unawareness

The customer does not know he has a problem
Use provocative selling and show the prospect why the problem is real, relevant and urgent to solve. This often takes a lot of energy, time and resources from unawareness to a signed offer because not only the sales person, but also the potential buyer need to do some “heavy lifting” from 0 throughout the complete buyer journey.

Books like The Challenger Sale can help you going deeper into the right tools and mindset to be successful during this stage.

2. Awareness: The customer is aware they have a problem

The prospect knows she needs to do SOMETHING, but is lost on how to find, evaluate and buy solutions solving her problem. This provides a great opportunity for consultative selling and present ways to solve the problem. While taking the prospect by the hand still takes considerable effort, it is also a great timing to become a trusted partner and steward to customers.

3. Education: The customer realises there are solutions.

This is the stage where prospects reach out proactively to you asking for your input (Inbound Leads), asking for a solution-based sales approach to make it easy for a buyer to understand, evaluate, trust and buy your solutions.

This is very different from Stages 1+2 because the prospect to a certain degree conducts the problem-solution-fit evaluation for you and therefore typically results in higher conversation rates from initial contact to signed offer.

4. Selection: The customer selected a solution.

This is where a prospect might push you directly into a transactional sales approach to present i.a. pricing & payment options. However be careful if the prospect really went through stages 1, 2 and 3 of the buyer journey above before providing a quote as the deal might be far from done and a prospect might

  1. not be informed enough to become successful with your solution or
  2. just “window-shopping” to gain price transparency and initiate negotiations with an informational advantage

5. Onboarding: The customer uses your solution.

You. Are. Not. Done. Here. Depending on your offering and industry and who you ask, it is 3-15x easier to win an additional 1’000 CHF from a customer already working with you than to win this revenue from a new customer from scratch.

Ideally, your customers can buy more from you in a self-service, web-based sales model. But even if not, make Customer Success not a management function, but a crucial part of your business to generate additional revenue and indeed prevent customer churn.

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