THE SALES CYCLE
The consultative sale is much different than the transaction sale. The latter is a short, easy to make decision, such as a candy bar or a new recliner. The purchase does not require a lot of research from the buyer. The consultative sale, on the other hand, is a more complex, long-term buying process, where the buyer requires very specific data and information, as to make the best decision for the best desired outcome—which may have affect on others or an entire business. It’s usually a high price point and found in most B2B transactions; the buyer generally needs guidance and direction and will seek reliance on the seller for training, samples, and other educational materials.
BEFORE – THE SALES FUNNEL
Before the advent of digital media platforms, the B2B sales cycle was highly dependent on the seller, usually a sales representative. The relationship between buyer and seller was extremely important, because access and ownership of product information was with the seller. This gave the seller much influence on the buyers’ purchase decision—trust was created by a single source, the seller.
The following highlights this model:
Buyer Need Assessment
Aware of Need or Want
Buyer seeks the Yellow Pages
Calls or Visits Business
AFTER – THE DECISION JOURNEY
Today, that process has dramatically changed in favor of the buyer, who has immediate access to many choices of products and services through the Internet. And, as a result, a buyer enters and re-enters the sales funnel (I call it: The Decision Journey) at every stage; they have much influence on the sales cycle, buying process, and purchase decision—trust is now created by the validity and credit of information such as product reviews and ratings, the opinions by society and groups, and referrals by friends and family.
The following highlights this model:
Sales and Marketing Objectives
Ratings and Reviews
Opinions and Referrals
Risk Analysis and Mitigation
Prospects are Introduced to Company through Traditional and Digital Marketing
Sales Team is Introduced
to the Prospect
Post Purchase Services and Solutions
THE 7-PROCESS DECISION JOURNEY
The Decision Journey Model is not organized into stages like other sales funnels, but is segmented by individual process. The model shown has 7-processes, each are very distinct and somewhat different, in that, prospects show varying behaviors and motives. For example, client A has different research skills that client B, and even though they have a unique problem, they may find a similar solution, but from totally different sources. This is why Integrative and Omni-Channel Marketing are so important. When competing company's are under consideration by a client, it is usually the one that has the most and best, content, from multiple sources—a company can have the brightest and biggest display ads, but if it doesn't convert, it is a waste of money.
Strategically placed content that can create enough interest to influence and persuade a client to engage in research is the start of a new customer.
Incorporating lean methods into the Decision Journey has a dramatic affect on sales. Today's client seeks a seamless and friction-less experience during the research process. Content that is current (dated) and proven (statistics) will persuade much better than content that lacks this information. For instance, an article states that Software A is an excellent platform for any medium-sized business. Another article states that Software B has reduced costs by 25% for over 300 medium-sized businesses since January 2019.
Which Software company would you contact?
Lean methods will help your clients save time in research and analysis. You've done that job for them. Now, they want to see actual proof.
This is where the sales team earns their right to be in sales by assisting the client in the Cost/Benefit process by illuminating the solution. Up until now, the client has made decisions by reading and analyzing information of interest—that is how your company was found—your scent trail.
The client now wants to see the data in action, and contrary to popular belief, a client wants to be demoed and awed. And why not! Buying a car is always worth a test drive. If the client has spent time and energy in research, why would they skip the product demo, or forego seeing the product samples? Ins't this where data meets results? Yes it is! This is the time to shine and close the deal—the Decision process—signing the check.
Congratulations! You've just earned a new customer.