It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up, or a business that’s been around for 50 years, your buyer has changed. He changed last month, last week…he even changed yesterday. Thanks in large part to Moore’s Law (technology doubles every two years), we know that his access and availability to information is endless. Today’s buyers are more connected, more savvy, more social than ever before. In fact, it’s likely your buyer will know more about you than you know about him before you ever meet one another. That is if you ever do meet one another.
We have all heard the statistic that 92% of all B2B purchases begin online. That means that 9 out of 10 prospects will be checking you out well before any meeting ever comes to fruition. We also know that many sources report that at least half of the buying process is complete before the buyer ever meets a sales person. For some companies like Amazon, Apple, and Tesla, they thrive on this disruptive buyer. The buyer who shops at her own pace, educates herself on what she wants, with the content she wants, and from the sources she wants it from. For other companies perhaps not as sophisticated in their understanding of this evolution…this buyers journey…the need to gain this understanding is critical. It’s urgent. It’s truly about survival.
To map your buyer’s journey requires time, access to customers willing to participate and answer questions, and likely the most important requirement being the business’s willingness to listen and change based upon these findings. This is critical work, not easy, but certainly doable. The rewards of understanding your buyers are many. The risk of not understanding your buyer is simple…irrelevance that leads to extinction.
Here are 5 things you need to prepare yourself, and your company for as you begin to map your buyer’s journey:
- Open-mindedness. Start this work with a beginners attitude. If we were launching today, knowing what we know, what would we say to our buyers, how would we say it, when, and where would we say it?
- Honesty. If your brand promise is “fast and easy” but your delivery is slow and confusing be honest about it. Guess what, your buyers already know this about you. Resist the denial urge.
- Customer mindset. Our buying habits and expectations as consumers are gradually following us into our business lives. If I can buy a new computer fast and easy at home, I expect to be able to do the same thing at work no matter what product or service I’m shopping for. My expectations for speed and ease, transcend the business experience.
- Acknowledgement and Acceptance. All change requires acknowledging there’s a better way, and accepting the fact that we will have to do something(s) different to achieve that better way.
- Action. Be ready, willing, and able to act. Some people, and businesses, are ready for a different outcome, but are not willing or able to implement the change required to generate that better outcome. Change only happens when a different action is taken.
The age of the buyer is here. Those who decide to align their business around the buyer will survive and thrive while those who still believe they control the sale will slowly fade away. Your job is to understand how you can best facilitate your buyers process – their journey – not your sales process. Helping and serving have become the keys to success in the age of the buyer. Now you just need to know where to help, and how the buyer wants to be served.