Long before there were buyer personas I had the good fortune to work for a boutique management consulting firm advocating understanding the purchase logic behind a buyer’s decision. That has driven my thinking for the past 30 years and I regularly speak on this topic, “Creating Products that are Easy to Buy and Easy to Sell,” at events such as Silicon Valley Product Camp. If you understand the emotions and thought processes that go into making a purchase decision you will understand and be able to address any potential roadblocks to achieving a sale.
Recent research from Gartner’s “Tech Go-to-Market: Trust Drives the B2B Technology Buying Cycle” report expands on this concept stating that, “Buyers spend only 32% of their journey interacting with supplier-side content or sales people. Two thirds of the buyer’s journey is devoted to internal assessments, peer networking, and the recommendations of external experts. According to Gartner, buyers “have access to all this stuff from vendors, but making sense of it, interpreting it, understanding that they have the right stuff is where they’re really struggling. The two-thirds breaks out as follows: 18% is internal company evaluations, 9% is social networking with peers, 12% is other interaction with peers, 13% is interactions with third parties, and 15% is reviewing independent information.”
We notice this challenge even more so with companies headquartered outside of the U.S. which tend to focus more on technical capabilities rather than the business benefits associated with why companies might buy their product. The American mindset is particularly focused on the “what’s in it for me/my position/my company” or, in other words, how will I, or my company, be more successful financially if I acquire this product in terms of the messages they want to hear. It’s critical to understand the reasons, besides technical features, that would inspire someone to purchase your product.
Product sellers also tend to forget about the fact that you also have to sell the channel assuming you don’t rely exclusively on a direct sales force or direct marketing. Business to business companies who rely on Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Systems Integrators (SIs), for example, sometimes assume that it’s up to the VARs and SIs to figure out how to sell their product not realizing the friction they may be causing for the channel. If you want to be sure that third parties can easily sell your product you have to identify and solve their pain points as well. Sometimes the easy to sell aspect is achieving a better product/market fit, and sometimes it’s changing the sales and marketing strategies and tactics being employed.
One of the exercises I lead companies through as part of the workshop “Creating Products that are Easy to Buy and Easy to Sell” is one designed to help companies understand the emotion behind most buying decisions. I ask folks to think about one of their favorite products and the thought process and actions they took before making the purchase. Then they’re asked to think about a product or service they purchased that represented an unpleasant buying experience.
- Describe one of your favorite product buying experiences
- Why did you “need” it?
- Why did you choose it over others?
- How long did it take you to make
your decision to buy?
- What price did you pay?
- What influences affected your buying decision?
- How do you feel owning it?
- Would you buy it again?
- Now describe your worst product buying experience
- Answer all of the above + what you did and how you felt
Going through this process usually creates an epiphany – folks realize how often their own decisions are emotionally driven and are able to make the shift in how they think about selling their company’s products. A bad buying experience can have far reaching, long term consequences. My favorite example of this was a family asked to pay an early cancellation fee because the father had passed away. The entire extended family left that particular wireless carrier and switched to another. The buying decision and customer relationship extends all the way through to the end of the relationship, that is, if you want to retain brand equity and customer loyalty.
Have you thought of everything related to the buying experience for your product or service? If not, let Vision & Execution help you understand how to make your product easy to sell and easy to buy.