In the buying cycle stage 3 – comparing – your prospects have moved through the six phases the behaviour of prospects will move through Unaware, Aware, Comparing, Validating, Action and Advocates. More important is the speed at which they move through the six phases and being able to define their position accurately and objectively. Prospects move from being ill-informed and unaware to being effective and supportive long-term advocates for your business.
Stage 3: Comparing
In stage three your relationship with your prospects has moved from being “Heard” to being “Connected” and there is a world of difference. Having effectively cut through the noise now is the time to show you have something to offer. A way to add value to their business. You have been heard, now what do you have to say? You have an audience, how can you help them?
By the time you have reached the “Connected” stage you have successfully hurdled or side-stepped the danger of “no-contact dismissal”. You have been identified as an industry disruptor or leader and there is belief in what you may bring to any relationship. Your relationship has moved to a phase that now demands greater interaction and a more detailed approach.
The Digital Connection
Some of this interaction can and should be digital with the sharing of white papers and the exposure to new influences and content that may demand more personal involvement and the involvement of more personnel.
At this point the objective may be to lead the prospect into new methods of working, shorter processes, greater efficiencies and more opportunities. Bringing in additional resource and a different perspective can all add value if it fits within the prospect’s context.
There is almost unspoken contract. “ I have connected, now where can you take me?” The alternative perspective and additional, relevant information are what will move the relationship still further. As a result, this stage of the buying cycle can be hungry.
The Connecting Tools
With connection comes commitment. Face to face communication at exhibitions, conferences as well as detailed information on potential directions and solutions. These are the “white paper” times. White papers will broaden the horizon and sharpen the perspective. But they take time to research, find or write….
An argument can be made for the Buying Cycle mirroring some aspects of retail buying. The connected stage is the time when you can expect some “post-connection evaluation” – matching the “post-purchase evaluation” seen in retail. Now that I have connected, has it been worth it? What have I got from this connection and is it worth pursuing further?
Track your customer journey objectively
Moreover, the level of direct contact is increasing. The challenge is still to understand exactly where prospects may be within the buying cycle. CRM systems will help to track contact, responsibility and the level of information being provided but Sonar can take this further.
By tracking the level of interaction with your digital tools and primarily your website then a picture can be created and more importantly a route developed that begins to plot a network of interactions – if this happens, then we’ll do that; if this and that happens then we’ll do this.
It sounds complex and marketing automation is still developing but the allocation of points for prospects means the buying cycle journey is a numerical one rather than one dependent on judgement.
In stage 3 – the communications tools adopted to support your brand have moved beyond those from stage 1 and 2. The level of interaction and information demanded cannot for the most part be successfully translated across – email, social media, direct marketing, content, video, or blogs but instead will focus on exhibitions, conference papers, face to face communication and thought leadership. As ever the key requirement is to understand exactly the expectations of a prospect and fulfil those needs accordingly.
We can help at every stage of the process but more importantly we can work with you to develop the tools to accurately track the buying cycle of your prospects objectively.
Let’s talk – and make The Buying Cycle real for your business.
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