In a new age where boundless information rests at the palm of our hands, sales has been reduced to seizing the most impulsive and willfully ignorant among consumers. Although these consumers still exist in droves, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Those that need to be sold are not enthusiastic about your product or service to begin with, and will therefore not serve as a quality brand advocate. This is not to say that sales techniques don’t matter, because closing may be the most important single action for all businesses.
The Five Stages of Consumer Purchase Behavior
When it comes to confidently tallying up revenue on your ledger, closing deals is the only action that matters. However, this mentality discounts four of the Five Stages of Consumer Purchase Behavior. The third stage of Consumer Purchase Behavior is the final stage before a consumer decides to buy. This involves evaluating alternatives and more importantly, seeking affirmation for his or her decision. It is at this stage that contemporary knowledge tells us that consumers are most vulnerable to influence.
For most consumers, emotions provide the basis for reasoning, lending some credence to the idea that sales representatives can influence emotions at the very last moment and tip the scale in favor of your brand. However, this is not a relevant factor when the consumer is seeking affirmation for the decision they’ve already made. By the time consumers reach the stage of evaluating alternatives, they have already chosen their brand and marginalized competitors. They seek to affirm this choice and avoid fatal flaws that may lead to regret. In other words, unless you’ve got rancid dirt to smear on the opposition, then B2C sales isn’t inherently effective. So smear away!
The Role of Marketing
Controlling the first two stages of Consumer Purchase Behavior is much more important than rallying the sales troops at the third stage to intercept buyers. Be there when the problem is recognized and he or she types it into Google or Bing. Provide helpful information that leads to a solution, then offer the solution that leads to the best outcome. This means you must invest in digital marketing, so the modern consumer can find you on a platform where they spend the 2nd most screen time according to Nielsen.
The third and final stage before a consumer decides to buy is therefore all about affirmation, not selling. Affirmation closes the deal, every single time.