Sales people are taught to manage and control the sales process by moving the customer from qualification to presentation to close. While this process accurately describes the activities of the sales person, there is a separate and equally important process at play. That other process is the one in the buyer’s head.

In my view, there are eight steps in the buying process.

1. Attention – It all starts when the buyer has an initial contact with the offering. This contact could be an advertisement, a phone call from the seller, or a referral. Somehow the buyer identifies the offering amongst the thundering herd of products and services.
2. Interest – The buyer sees the possibilities of the offering and begins to understand the benefits. “Hmmm”, says the buyer.
3. Desire – At this juncture in the buying process, the buyer starts to visualize the product helping to solve a problem, provide some utility, or bringing happiness. Things are clicking.
4. Conviction – Clearly the offering makes sense. The research is done and the decision to go forward to buy is imminent. This could really work.
5. Action – Bingo! The buyer steps up and secures the offering. All systems go. We have lift off.
6. Confirmation – The product is used, tested, and appreciated first hand. The seller’s value proposition is fully vetted.
7. Satisfaction – The votes are in and the product is a winner. Repurchasing it is an option.
8. Loyalty – The highest level of happiness with a buyer. At this stage the buyer is actually referring the product and the seller to others. The buyer is an advocate.

Not all buyers reach loyalty. Many never buy while some who do buy have remorse. Yet, this path is real and tangible for the buyer. Unfortunately, many sales people are oblivious to the buying process which is a result of antiquated sales training, selfishness and plain old ignorance.

When you are selling you need to ask yourself what is going on the buyer’s head?

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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