Imagine how you’d feel if you spent months — maybe even years — developing marketing and sales protocols, only to find you’ve missed the mark. You may have made enough sales to survive. But if you haven’t done this one thing, you might have left many thousands, maybe millions, of dollars on the table. That’s how important it is to take the time you need to understand how your ideal customer(s) found your business, along with the triggers or pain they were experiencing at the time of need.

If you don’t take this important marketing step, you will never be able to correctly position your brand and forge an effective sales process to acquire customers.

The only way to do this is to ask customers to share their thinking — in as much detail as possible. Here is what to ask:

Question #1: What trigger made this problem a priority for you?

You may not see it the same way your customer does. You need to know what was going on in their brain the day they decided they needed your product – the real “root trigger” of their purchase. Understanding this helps you choose highly effective headlines, ads, graphics and messages that powerfully resonate with those who are ripe to become your customers.

Question #2: What success are you looking to achieve?

This question produces insight into the ultimate result potential customers seek. Be warned this may be different from what you think it is, and the answer can vary widely. For example, residential painting customers might see timeliness as most important, when you thought it was accuracy. By focusing on accuracy in ads, you could end up leading prospects to choose another company.

Question #3: What criteria do you use when deciding what to buy?

If you know every aspect of the way a customer makes the buying decision, it gives you clues to critical information you can incorporate into your marketing. Every box you can check to meet the criteria they themselves have given you will get you closer to making the sale. Avoid the temptation to put words into their mouths – you know your customers well, but you might be surprised what they’re thinking.

Question #4: What barriers prevent you from making a purchase decision?

Every sales process includes objections and obstacles potential customers encounter that can actually keep them from choosing you. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest negative impact. If your product lacks a feature that’s a deal-breaker for a prospect, they won’t buy no matter what. Other obstacles include lack of trust, unexpected pricing and uncomfortable timing.

Question #5: Who most influences you when you make a buying decision?

It’s important to know who the key decision-maker is in any buying decision, but it also can be very powerful to find out who else influences the decision. A mom may have her own opinion about clothes to buy her teenage daughter, but the father may have non-negotiables such as no belly buttons showing. A purchasing officer may consult a long-time employee with past over-the-road trucking experience to decide what fleet trucks to buy. You won’t know this unless you ask.

To get these critical answers, interview both current and potential customers. Don’t let them give you short answers — really engage them and get all the details of their thinking. It’s worth the time it takes to do this, because your efforts are sure to lead to increased sales.

As part of the yorCMO Marketing Audit process, we conduct several buyer interviews for each client to gain insights into the buyer journey and unique triggers. Contact Us to learn how buyer interviews can help your marketing strategy.


About the Author:

Joe is co-founder of yorCMO. Prior to founding yorCMO in 2017, he began pioneering video for new media in 2007, writing the book, New Media Habits, and launching the first company to focus exclusively on new media video production in Omaha, NE. It took him 6 years of trial and error to find the right niche in the sea of social media – strategic video production for nonprofits; then 3 years of tinkering to develop a sustainable business model. Frost Media Group operates in both Omaha and Kansas City.