What are Your Customers Really Buying?

December 1st, 2014

Buying with a credit cardWhat clients and prospective clients really, really want is a solution to their problem; they want someone to take away their current pain.

That means, before you can effectively sell your products and services you need to understand how and why your clients buy.

You have to have a great product or service that customers want. So, create one that fits what your customers want first. What they like, want or need is far more important than what you want to sell them. Design everything to suit your prospective customers, not yourself.

Everyone goes through a process when they buy anything. It’s called a buying cycle. Sometimes it’s a quick decision, others it’s a long protracted search for a solution.

Your customers go through their buying cycle when they’ve got a problem to solve or they have a want or desire that must satisfied. You must find out what their buying process is and how it works. Only then can you hope to make a sale.

In general a buying cycle has five stages:

  1. Recognition of a problem, a want, a need or a desire
  2. The search for information and / or solutions
  3. Creation of a short list of solutions and seeking suppliers
  4. Selecting the best solution and selecting the best suppliers
  5. Making a purchase or hiring the service provider.

Find out how your potential buyers identify and learn about the service providers they hire. When you know this you won’t waste time, money and energy on marketing methods that don’t have any impact on your prospects buying decisions. In general they seek out:

  • Referrals from colleagues, contacts or advice from industry analysts
  • Previous experience, research within their own organisation or online
  • Business articles, trade reports, trade shows, exhibitions and conferences
  • Networking

But, what factors influence the actual buying decision?

  • Expertise in the specific technical area
  • Overall value delivered – solving the problem or the pain without fuss
  • The variety of services offered or the specialty of services
  • Ability to understand the client’s issues and present solutions
  • Proximity of the service provider to the client’s premises.
  • The quality of the service provider’s website is important in the initial search for a supplier
  • Confidence in the supplier, possibly following a recommendation
  • Experience within the client’s sector
  • Cost or price is not as important in the buyer’s mind as it is the seller’s mind
  • People want to be associated with successful and expert people

Once you have identified your target market you’ll need to make sure your marketing messages are designed specifically for that audience. Steer clear of being a generalist in any market. Instead focus on a small niche.

Remember that price is not always the determining factor in purchases it’s the service and the value that you can give to your clients.

Success will come when you:

  1. Understand what problems you can solve for your target market and turn these into sales messages
  2. Make sure you design products that your customers want
  3. Understand their buying process

Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter.