You put a ton of work into creating your product or service, and now you’re selling it. You know your product backward and forward. You hopefully have even done some research to understand your market. But, if you’re like most companies, you’ve likely forgotten to research the most critical factor: what’s in your prospect’s brain right before they buy. These are expectations you MUST meet if you want to make a sale. If you don’t meet those very personal criteria, your potential buyer likely will go elsewhere. It’s as simple as that. The best way to get into their brain to find out what’s important to them is NOT to guess based on your own knowledge, experience or facts. The best way is to ask them in Buyer Interviews.
Not long ago, through Buyer Interviews, we learned one of our clients’ pricing and payment terms did not match what their customers were looking for. The company required large up-front payments, with no monthly fees. Sounds good, right? Pay it off and then no worries from month to month. Our client hadn’t thought about terms much; they put all their effort into the product itself.
With a little investigation, however, it became clear our client had only been guessing that their customers’ sole criterion was product performance. Who wouldn’t guess that? But they guessed wrong. For the customer, the way they would be required to pay for the product was a major factor. Customers were so used to a “rental mentality” (no up-front costs, but monthly fees) that considering our client’s payment terms was uncomfortable enough to jeopardize the sale.
Think about what that means: Their customers loved the product. But something as seemingly insignificant as payment terms was keeping perfect prospects from buying. What a tragic way to lose business!
Some Criteria are Critical, Some are Negotiable
Through Buyer Interviews, you can avoid what happened to our client by understanding what’s really going on in the minds of your prospects when they compare companies and decide who to buy from. It’s also important to understand which criteria are critical (and why) – and which are negotiable.
If you provide solutions equal to your competitors, your buyer could jump ship to get nonnegotiable services you might think are insignificant. For our client, once it became clear payment options were extremely important to prospects, the company decided to change its processes – and marketing messages.
Recap: If you want sales, what matters most is what your client expects, not what you think.
The Buyer Might Not be the Only Person Making the Decision
Here’s another common buying criteria pitfall: The person who’s doing the buying may not be the only person influencing the final decision. In the example above, the finance department heavily influenced prospects’ decisions, because it would have been TOO challenging for them to completely change the way they paid for the product.
You know what that means: You must conduct Buyer Interviews with all key influencers as well as the buyer! If finance personnel or others are a part of making decisions affecting sales, it’s worth the time you’ll take to get into the minds of those people. If you don’t meet their criteria as well as the buyer’s, they can stop a sale just as easily as the buyer.
Do You Know Where Your Customer is Researching You?
Here’s something else that can critically affect how you approach learning about your buyers’ criteria. According to a recent study by Hubspot, most buyers do their product/service research well before they contact the companies they decide they might be interested in buying from. Research says a hefty 57% of the purchase decision is already made before a buyer contacts a potential supplier.
You need to know where they’re getting that preliminary information, not only to understand how their buying decision unfolds, but also to make sure you have a presence where they are making the bulk of their decision. Where they get that info is where you’ll want to post ads, social media, and other messages. It isn’t always in the obvious places. How do you find out? Again, don’t guess based only on what YOU know. Ask them (Buyer Interview)!
What is a Buyer Interview?
A Buyer Interview is different from a robust surveying process. It doesn’t take a long time. You don’t need to interview hundreds of people – just a decent sampling. The interview, usually by phone, focuses specifically on what’s in the minds of buyers before they buy, what triggers them to buy, and what might trigger them NOT to buy. It focuses on facts, behavior, and emotions. Read about the buyer’s journey and how to do Buyer Interviews here.
Why not use Buyer Interviews to get a truly accurate understanding of your buyer and their criteria (accurate because you asked them)? It could fundamentally change the way you position your product or service, with the result being – you guessed it: more sales!
Learn more about Buyer Interviews and how to position your product and service for your best customers? Set up a chat with one of our CMOs – info@yorCMO.com.
About the Author:
Suzie is an accomplished Marketing professional with 12 years of broad exposure developing and leading strategic marketing efforts in support of company goals and brand growth.
Whether at a small business or a Fortune 500 company, Suzie is known for helping local and national organizations tell their stories in ways that generate results. She creates value through a disciplined strategic planning process that is built upon communication and accountability.
Prior to joining yorCMO, Suzie worked with a variety of industries including real estate, retail, higher education, pharmaceuticals and technology. She is a hands-on marketing executive who is skilled in positioning, analytics, messaging, branding, targeting and digital marketing. Suzie also brings the added advantage of a strong creative background including design, writing and art direction.