(The buying cycle below has been adapted from the excellent book Slow Down, Sell Faster by Kevin Davis)
It’s easy (and often useful) to get fixated on our own sales process. However it’s worth remembering the purpose of our sales process is to help our customers get through their own buying process so that not only will they buy from us, but ideally they’ll champion us throughout their organisation and elsewhere.
Their buying process may be very simple and obvious in which case this isn’t a problem (except this means there may be a lot of competition).
However in cases where our customer is:
a) not sure if their initial problem is important enough to solve
b) not sure what the best answer is and
c) have a number of people involved in their decision making process,
It helps us to think through how they are likely to make a successful buying decision.
This is of particular interest at the beginning of a buying cycle when our customers are identifying a need. The initial stage if often about working out if a problem is serious enough to address. Jumping to a solution too quickly may actually stop the sale. Helping them identify the implications of a possible problem may encourage the sale.
In the first stage it can be more effective to help our customer explore the implications of their perceived problems, rather than jump ahead to a solutions.
This is the reason in the next section we look at both the problems we work with and their implications as well as the solutions we offer.
Wherever our customers are in their buying cycle, we will be helping them if we help them complete the stage they’re at and then help them move forward to the next stage.
Customers normally go through at least 4 phases when buying something:
1 Identifying a need
2 Learning about their options
3 Buying the product or service
4 Using and in turn identifying the value they get
Each can be divided into 2 sub-phases:
1a Exploring change
1b Discontent with current situation
3a Fear and uncertainty
3b Commit (Sign contract order)
4b Satisfaction and value (which in turn can lead to case studies, testimonials and referrals)
It’s also useful to be aware of who is involved the buying decision and their buying criteria’
In simple sales it may be the budget holder, whereas in more complex sales it may involve the buyer, various users and others involved in implementation, and a final decision maker or decision making committee.
In a complex sale we’ll normally need a champion who will help drive our solution internally through the various stages of the cycle. We also may come across ‘blockers’, who favour the status quo or alternative solutions.
In the next section we’ll look at problem and value statements
NLP Sales Section Index
Recommended Sales Books
NLP Sales 1: Introduction
NLP Sales 2: Customers buying cycle
NLP Sales 3: Questions to identify your initial problem and value statements
NLP Sales 4: Getting appointments (framework script)
NLP Sales 5: Handling classic and specific objections when getting appointments
NLP Sales 6: Handling other objections when getting appointments
NLP Sales 7: Advancing the sale
NLP Sales 8: Closing
NLP Sales 9: Value, proposals and negotiation
NLP Sales 10: Implementation, case studies, referrals and testimonials
NLP Sales 11: New Media
NLP Sales 12: NLP approaches that make the difference.