What Makes A Customer Say "Buy" Instead of "Bye-Bye"


Regardless of what you sell, if you understand why people buy something you’ll have a better chance of selling more to your customers. First, let’s take a look at the five stages people go through when they make a purchase:

      1.  They become aware of a need.
      2.  They look for information – what will satisfy their need?
      3.  They evaluate their options for need satisfaction – what satisfies it best?
      4.  They purchase their preferred option (or a substitute if their first choice isn’t available).
      5.  They reconsider – “Did I really make the right choice there?”

The actual purchase is just one step in this process. Three steps lead up to it and one follows, and all are important. If a plumber needs a motor vehicle for his business, he starts the process by gathering information about the various types of vehicles that might be suitable; light trucks, pickups, SUVs, vans and station wagons.

Let’s say that he reviews all the literature and decides a Ford van will be the best vehicle for his requirements. He goes off to two or three dealers until he gets what he thinks will be his best deal. He buys the van and brings it home, then wonders the next day ‘what if?’ - “If I’d bought the SUV I could’ve used it on holidays”; “If I’d gone to just one more dealer I might have saved more money.” That’s how the process works.

After stage 1, the customer is aware of the need and decides what they require to make an informed decision. The usefulness and influence of various sources of information vary by the type of product and by customer. During stage 2, your advertising and promotion, your literature and your website, begin to link you to the customer. Your reputation can also be a factor.

In stage 3, customers often come to potential suppliers with requests for more information and even assistance in making their decision. That’s where your customer service team first interacts with the customer – usually by telephone or during a personal visit.

In decisions about products that are perceived as expensive or extremely important, the supplier may have to provide a substantial amount of reinforcement concerning the benefits the product will deliver, but it’s a great opportunity to get close to the customer.

If your sales team is good at their job stage 4 follows and rings your till. This is often seen as the end of the transaction, but stage 5 can actually be the most critical – managing the ‘post-purchase remorse’ as this stage is often called. It is common for customers to experience concerns after making a purchase, feeling that perhaps an alternative product or source might have given them a better outcome.

The customer often needs encouragement that they have made the right decision. The supplier who anticipates this and does a post purchase follow up is the one most likely to get repeat business from their customers. So back to the question of why people buy from you; it’s got a lot to do with how many of the 5 stages you play a part in, as well as how effective you are in each stage. One researcher found that the most important reasons customers chose a particular supplier to meet their needs are: 

      -  They like and trust their salesperson 
      -  They understand what they are buying 
      -  They feel positive about the person and the company they are buying from 
      -  They perceive value in the product they purchase

There are both logical and emotional reasons why customers buy from you. Research has shown that the emotional reasons are often every bit as important as the logical ones - customers buy something because it makes them feel good.

Customers naturally think their purchase is a purely logical decision, but in fact they buy from the supplier who makes them feel the best about buying something, both before and after the purchase. Work to understand your customers and make them feel good through as many of the five stages of the buying process as you can.

Until next week,
Mike Reddy