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Match Your Sales Approach to Your Prospect’s Readiness to Buy

Your sales and promotional messages must link to where your customers are in their decision-making processes. There are five stages of buying behavior that a consumer will go through: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial and — finally — the adoption stage. Each stage requires a different decision by your prospect. By matching your sales and promotional strategies to their decision focus at each stage in the buying process, you can more effectively shift them closer to their final decisions. 

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Awareness Stage

In this stage, your prospects perceive they have problems or needs to be addressed. They often have limited insight about their options for dealing with their issues. The objective is to provide your prospects with basic information. Consider the information you need to tee up to establish the framework for their thinking. Don’t overwhelm them at this stage by giving them every single bit of information you have available. Think about what they need to understand by providing your prospects with high-level information about your products and services. Shape how you want them to think about getting their needs met. Help them gain confidence in their basic understanding. 

Your call to action should be engaging your prospects in a next step, such as signing up for your mailing list, calling you directly or setting up a meeting with you for lunch, coffee or over Zoom. If they’re at a point where they are aware of you, they are ready for you to establish the basis of their understanding of the information and why they should look at you further. 

Interest Stage

By now, your prospects are curious about what you can offer to meet their needs. They have a basic level of understanding about their overall options for addressing their issue. Provide them with more details on the specific options or choices you offer. Your prospects will be evaluating how your products and services will meet their needs. Consider the objections they might have at this stage that prevent you from closing a sale. Shape your messaging to frame their thinking about these key objections. Help them gain confidence in understanding your pricing, quality, value and other benefits or features. Match the value of your offerings to showcase where you fit relative to your competitive alternatives. 

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Your call to action is to build trust with your prospects, so that they will provide you with more detail about their specific situations to enable you to address their unique concerns. Make sure your promotional messages at this stage give them confidence to continue considering you as an option. If they are interested, you have a prime opportunity to establish the framework for how your prospects should evaluate the information they receive from your competitors. 

Evaluation Stage

In this stage, your prospects have more insight about their options for addressing their issues. Provide them with detailed information on your features and benefits. Be specific in establishing your uniqueness in meeting your prospects’ needs in their top decision factors. Your prospects are seriously considering your products and services. They have likely narrowed it down to two or three options and are going back and forth from you to your competition. Help them gain confidence in their choices by matching their decision criteria to your options. 

Your call to action is to get your prospects to move forward and engage in a deeper sales dynamic. Now you can focus on making a major ask – such as giving presentations to their decision teams or asking to submit customized proposals to respond to their specific concerns. If they are at a point where they are evaluating you, they are very close to making a decision. Clearly establish how you can meet their needs within their budgets in their time frames. If they are evaluating you, your prospects have narrowed their options and are looking for ways to eliminate other vendors from consideration. 

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Trial Stage

Your prospects now have narrowed down their options and are testing to see if you are actually able to meet their needs. Your objective should be to provide them with the final insight they need to have the confidence to select you. By now, your prospects have eliminated most or all of the competitive alternatives, and they are nearly ready to buy. Address any unique questions holding them back from approving the sales. You must now prove that what you said in your promotional materials matches the experience they will have with you. 

Your call to action is to ask for the final sales confirmation or the signed contract. You have fully engaged with your prospects, and they are now confirming that you are their best choice. In the Trial Stage, you are at the make-or-break point. Help them confirm that you are their best choice by ensuring you’ll manage their customer experience. Make sure your team is ready to produce service delivery and that the prospect experience matches the expectations you established. Showcasing your ability to deliver what they need or want is essential to closing sales. 

Adoption Stage

Now your customers finally have chosen you, and you should be ready to fully deliver on all of your promises and successfully integrate your prospects into your satisfied customer base. Your prospects are now paying customers. Identify any additional issues they have that you may be able to address going forward. 

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Your call to action is to ensure you and your team provide a high level of satisfaction with these sales. Build deeper ties with your customers, and make sure you consistently deliver a superior experience. Manage the customer on-boarding process by delivering what you promised so they become your advocates. 

Final Thoughts

By using the five stages of buying behavior as a sales framework, you can maximize your opportunity to provide your prospects with exactly the type of information they need and minimize any wasted sales efforts on your part. This focused approach will allow you to customize your sales and promotional strategies to offer your prospects exactly what they need so they become long-term customers.

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