In today’s buying process, your prospects have more power than ever before. It’s not just the plethora of options available to them, or even the ease with which they can find different businesses in the area — it’s the ability to research their frustrations, educate themselves on potential solutions, and weigh their options in a highly educated and self-directed way.
According to HubSpot, 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months. 20% will take more than twelve months to buy and 97% will read reviews on your company. In the meantime, they’re requesting similar information from your competitors and asking for outside opinions from their peers.
So how do you stand out, and what can you do to help prospects decide that you’re the best option for them?
In this post, we’ll show you what a modern buying process looks like and, hopefully, illuminate where and why prospects are falling out of your sales funnel.
Step 1: Recognize The Problem
While many believe the buying process starts with shopping for products or services, it often begins before the buyer even knows what to shop for. Someone is experiencing a problem, but they aren’t quite sure what’s causing it. The first step, therefore, is all about diagnosing the problem. Let’s look at an example.
John has been experiencing some minor shoulder pain lately. Curious as to what is causing this pain, he goes to his desktop computer and searches for “common causes of shoulder pain”. A local physical therapist named Therapeutic Solutions appears in the search results, with a blog post that covers the most common causes of shoulder pain.
John sees some descriptions that match the pain he’s experiencing, eventually realizing that he probably has arthritis. For now the pain isn’t that great, so he doesn’t worry about looking into it further and is satisfied knowing why his shoulder hurts.
Keep in mind that the cause of a problem is sometimes more obvious and requires less research — for example, people who need to find a primary care doctor often don’t need to figure that out, they just know. That being said, those buyers can still find valuable information on the type of primary care physician that’s right for them.
Step 2: Research Potential Solutions
After identifying the cause of their pain, the modern buyer starts to consider various ways to solve it.
Let’s look at John again. It’s been a few weeks since he originally looked into his shoulder pain. While riding with a coworker to a meeting his shoulder starts to act up — it’s been getting worse lately — so he pulls out his phone and starts to look at ways to treat the pain. He reads a couple articles from different places which identify his options; everything is covered from basic stretches to invasive surgery.
John finishes his research on his tablet at home, coming to the conclusion that physical therapy is his best first step toward relieving his pain. Now he’s poised to find a business that fits his needs and budget.
Step 3: Weigh Your Options
Finally, after deciding on a solution, the modern buyer will start shopping, looking at everyone who provides that solution. They’ll weigh the pros and cons of each and eventually decide on the option most attractive to them.
John knows he wants to find a local physical therapist, so he starts searching for any in his area. He may ask his friends for suggestions, but 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so he’ll no doubt scour reviews pages for ratings and customer comments.
While weighing his options, John sees the name Therapeutic Solutions again and again. If you’ll remember, this is the same business that helped John diagnose his problem at the beginning of the buying process. John is impressed by their website, which is designed well and portrays them as professional and experienced. They have a many Google and Angie’s List reviews from current patients and one negative review that was responded to and handled appropriately. Therapueutic Solutions is also running remarketing ads — a form of online advertising that allows you to show ads to people who have already visited your website — which helps ensure that John continues to see their messaging, which invites him to schedule a free consultation.
Don’t Be Forgotten
Those sorts of impressions, and that kind of top-of-mind messaging, really matters. While there is no consistent number, most marketing and sales professionals will tell you that you need at least seven touch points with a prospect before they buy. And when you have a high-quality website and effective marketing efforts, it’s that much easier to provide information to prospects without having your sales team interject in the process. It also makes John’s buying process easier and will help him eliminate options that use less consistent or professional marketing materials.
Think about it like this: since the beginning of the buying process, Therapeutic Solutions has provided helpful information to John and made sure that he’ll remember their name. They’ve been a constant as he’s identified his problems and decided on a proper solution, and they’ve done a great job of portraying themselves as highly trained medical professionals. And while this doesn’t guarantee that John will give them his business, he is much more likely to seriously consider them.