It is critical for you to know where your prospects are in the decision making cycle.
Understanding your prospect’s position on the Educational Spectrum is critical – it reveals exactly what your MARKETING CHALLENGE is going to be.
In any target market, prospects are in one of three stages of “Readiness To Buy”.
- FUTURE BUYERS – they’re currently not considering purchasing what you sell.
- INVESTIGATORS – they’re in research mode, trying to figure out what they need to know to make an informed buying decision.
- NOW BUYER – they’re ready to buy – NOW!
Regardless of the stage the prospect is in, it’s still a prospect. Remember, these are the candidates you identified in your segmentation strategy (for the newsletter on Segmentation, click here) who are simply at different points in the sales cycle. Why should we even bother with prospects that aren’t ready to “BUY NOW”. Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus all our marketing efforts on those who are ready to buy? The answer is NO!
Why? Because only 1% to 10% of your target market is looking to “BUY NOW” at any given time. Therefore, if you disregard the “FUTURE BUYERS” and “INVESTIGATORS”, you’re ignoring the vast majority of your target market. We assume you’ll want them as customers in 6 months, a year or in 5 years – so ignore them at your peril.
You must know where prospects are in the Decision Making Process to clearly understand your MARKETING CHALLENGE. Here’s why:
If the prospect is a “FUTURE BUYER” – isn’t currently looking to buy – it’s because of one of two reasons:
- they already have what you sell, or
- they don’t know a solution exists.
With these prospects, your MARKETING CHALLENGE is to motivate them to consider an alternative – either by getting them to question their current supplier or by letting them know a solution to a problem they have exists. All you want to accomplish when prospects are in this phase is to nudge them into becoming “INVESTIGATORS”.
“INVESTIGATORS” pose a different MARKETING CHALLENGE. These prospects are trying to figure our HOW to make a decision, what they need to know to make the best possible decision. Always remember one thing about your prospects, regardless of the business you’re in – THEY ALL WANT TO BE ABSOLUTELY SURE THEY’RE IN A POSITION TO MAKE THE BEST POSSIBLE DECISION.
We’ve all experienced Buyer’s Remorse, “an emotional condition whereby a person feels remorse or regret after the purchase of an item because it’s not certain whether the decision to purchase was a good one..”
So as a marketer, it’s up to you to provide “INVESTIGATORS” with Decision Facilitating Information so they can MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION.
Finally, if the prospect is a “NOW BUYER”, your job is to make it obvious you are the best choice. You do this by explaining to the prospect – in very specific terms – how your product or service matches up versus their Decision Making Criteria.
The amount of time it takes for prospects to move along the Educational Spectrum depends on the product or service you sell. For a service like house painting, the decision making cycle is short – when someone decides they need their house painted, they’ll likely do something within a matter of weeks or months. However, for a service such as cosmetic surgery, it can take up to five years for a prospect to move through the decision making process.
Regardless of how long it takes, you need to nurture your entire target market to keep your sales pipeline nice and full – one of the keys to predictability.
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