Customer Purchasing Processes

Using Customer Buying Processes to Generate More Sales

Most micro-business owners will have thought about how to sell their product. They promote via the internet, for example, or through shops or face-to-face at craft fairs. But a switch in thinking to looking at how people actually buy can generate huge increases in sales or increased conversion rates.

A simple example can be seen in how someone buys a bar of chocolate. The immediate response might be that they go into a shop and buy one, but the reality is actually much more complex.

First, there will be a ‘need’. It could be hunger, a desire for a sugar boost or seeing an advert. Whatever it is, something is triggered and the hunt for chocolate starts, rather than the hunt for a sandwich, a bar meal or a bag of crisps.

But this is just the start of the choices and decisions, starting with where to fulfil the need. A garage or shop? What if there are several potential places available – which will be chosen? What chocolate bar will you pick – your favourite or one promoted on television last night? Would a special offer of two for £1 influence the choice?

And if there’s a queue at the till, will you stay and wait, or leave?

That simple purchase has many steps and decision points, with each having the power to make or break the sale.

The trick is identify the steps for your micro-business’s product or service to see exactly what prospects do before they purchase.

Then, for each step, identify what the prospect is looking for – the things that interest them or that they most want to know. An effective marketing approach is one built around these factors as it takes into account what’s important to people when buying.

For example, if potential purchasers need face-to-face reassurance beforehand, there may not be any value in building an ecommerce website. Alternatively, if they are happy buying online and there is sufficient information for them to make a purchase, why bother having an actual shop? Perhaps a well-optimised website with pay-per-click used to drive people to the site for specific products would be a better approach.

Alternatively, if customers prefer well-known brands then the micro-business knows it will have to spend money on brand and awareness advertising. Companies such as solicitors and accountants may want to use this approach as a strong reputation and high levels of awareness can help customers decide who to use.

Because you know what people are looking for during each stage in the process, the words, imagery and content of your materials can be made more effective. For example, meta descriptions and entries in directories can be geared more accurately towards what searchers are looking for. Don’t simply repeat what your service is – the searcher already knows. They actually want to know why your micro-business is a better provider of the product or service than the other businesses on the page.

Try to avoid using jargon or clichés. Friendly, professional service from someone you can trust is absolutely meaningless as everyone says it. Instead, pick out what customers really want from a provider and state why your micro-business does that better than anyone else.

Focus on why your offering is perfect for them (based on what they want) and why they should call you, or visit your shop, or visit your site, rather than that of a competitor.

If you’re unsure on what aspects of your micro-business offering this could be, read Unique Selling Points.

The mnemonic AIDA can help you identify your buying process steps and the key factors involved at each step. AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action and perfectly describes the steps every prospect goes through before they become customers. Take advantage of it and you might just see your sales and conversion rates rocket.