How do our prospects behave? What are they thinking and what is their process? What are the elements that impact their final decisions? This information is critical to understand in order to effectively reach and impact you potential buyers. In this article we will look at the buyer journey and how it has changed from the pre-internet era to the post-internet times in which we now live.
Here is Part 1 of our two part series on the Buyer Journey.
Buyer Behavior and the Buyer Journey
In order to successfully develop trust with a prospect, we need to understand the buyer process. This is the journey from alpha through omega, from the moment they identify that they have a need, to the moment they make a decision to slow down or stop looking and reach out to what they believe is the right company to meet their needs.
Pre-Internet Buyer Journey
Let’s look at Nick. Nick has had a banner year at his company, and has made the decision to build an addition to his home. Nick does not have a relationship with a construction company and isn’t well versed in construction.
He looks in the Yellow Pages for some possible candidates and selects two. He also sees an advertisement in a local paper that looks good, so he adds them to the list. Nick picks up the phone, calls them and sets up appointments.
We can see the simplicity of this buyer journey. There are three key elements of the journey to note here.
- Straight. Nick’s journey is straight, moving from decision to search to action (Point A to B to C).
- Uneducated. Nick arrives at the first meeting uneducated as to the construction process, costs and demands of adding the deck to his home. He is going in blind.
- Outbound Sales. Nick made his decisions about whom to contact based on outbound marketing tactics (eg. advertisements). He knows little to nothing about the companies he is contacting, their capabilities, experience and culture. He has no choice but to “go with his gut”.
The pre-internet buyer process does very little to serve the prospect!
Post-Internet Buyer Journey
Now let’s look at Judi. Judi is a successful entrepreneur and the owner of a small restaurant in a large city. Judi is considering expanding the dining room of her restaurant and needs a reputable construction company that can meet her needs. Judi, like Nick, does not have a relationship with a construction company and knows little to nothing about construction.
Judi takes to the internet. She finds a Youtube course on the basics of construction which she watches and takes notes on. Once understanding the basics, she does a Google search for local construction companies, which yields hundreds of options. She starts at the top.
On the websites of each of the companies, she looks at the history of the company, the testimonials, projects that include descriptions and photo galleries, and makes note of the contact information. Some of the companies offered information that validated what she learned in her course. She reads multiple blog posts and she signs up for a few email newsletters.
Judi goes to the social channels of the companies, to see more photos and information on Instagram and Facebook. She looks to see the interaction that the companies have with their followers.
She has a better understanding of her needs and begins to eliminate companies that don’t appear to be a fit or up to a high standard.
She returns to Google and goes to Houzz.com, a design and construction review website, to see the reviews, both positive and negative, left by the clients of these companies.
After some time and after understanding these companies, the value they offer, the work they have done and the satisfaction level of past clients, she makes a decision to reach out to a single company that she believes is the right fit.
This buyer journey is far more complex, and is very favourable to the buyer. The buyer journey here is:
- Nebulous. Judi is able to vet many companies very quickly, zigging and zagging from different internet marketing tactics including the website, social media channels, Google rankings, and multiple review sites. She has a wealth of information and the freedom to obtain it in a manner that best suits her.
- Educated. Judi takes the time to self educate, through the online course, construction company websites, blog posts, social channels and email newsletters. She is very well prepared for her initial consult.
- Inbound Sales. The companies that had the greatest impact on her demonstrated value by being transparent about their company and history, showcasing their successes and offering informative content about construction through multiple channels (email newsletter, blog, social channels). The companies with the highest ranking on Google were given first consideration.
After reviewing these two scenarios, it becomes apparent that the post-internet buyer is in a far more powerful position to vet companies, and that they can do so PRIOR to making any human contact.
And perhaps most importantly, the companies that gave her the most to consider, that presented themselves favourably, showcased their successes and offered value are the companies that created the greatest trust.
Aside from the online reviews, Judi was only able to make her assessments of these companies based on the information that the companies provided. It is your company’s responsibility to provide that information in a clear, meaningful and compelling way. If you can’t be bothered to provide to do so, she won’t invest time trying to get it. She will simply move on to your competitors.