Modern consumers are picky, and they can afford to be. With the invention of the internet and the growth of eCommerce in recent years, people have an almost infinite range of options at their fingertips. It can be difficult for even a highly skilled sales force to keep up with those kinds of challenges, especially if top sales reps don’t have a clear idea of how the consumer buying process has changed in recent years. Working with a company like Challenger can help, as can taking the time to get a better understanding of modern consumer behavior.
The core principles of the consumer buying journey remain the same as they have since 1910 when John Dewey established a five-step framework for understanding the process. What has changed, according to realtimecampaign.com, are the particulars of how each step plays out. This article will offer a brief introduction to some of the differences in the modern buying decision process that could get sales teams thinking a little differently about how to keep up with changing times.
As business owners can discover here, the recognition of need is arguably the most important step in the decision-making process. In some cases, that need is triggered by internal stimuli and cannot be changed. In most, though, it’s external stimuli like trends, advertising, and word of mouth that get people thinking about what they don’t have.
The process of searching for information about products or services and the companies that provide them has changed dramatically in the past century. It used to consist of asking friends and family about their experiences. Now, third-party reviews, company websites, social media sites, and other online sources play an outsized role in providing consumers with the information they are looking for.
Evaluation of Alternatives
As with information search, the evaluation of alternatives step has also undergone radical changes thanks to the internet. Online ordering and efficient delivery mean that people can purchase products from just about anywhere. However, it’s relevant to note here that for most consumers, product quality actually takes a back seat to customer service. An effective, highly responsive sales team can help to alleviate this problem.
Unfortunately, not all consumers that make it to stage four of the buying process follow through, and some sales will always get disrupted at the last minute. As the FTC Reports Rise in “Dark Pattern” Tactics in Consumer Markets, it should be clear that vendors understand the delicacy of this step. Instead of using underhanded tactics, though, their sales teams should be going the extra mile to make it easy for customers to follow through.
In the post-purchase stage, customers will evaluate the products or services and decide if they are satisfied. Either way, it will influence later buying decisions. A satisfied customer will skip right past the first three steps next time, while a dissatisfied one will consider the company out of the running.
Why It Matters
Understanding the consumer purchase process is more important now than ever. While it’s true that many aspects of online sales have been automated, it’s the human touch that wins people over. A sales force that understands and can accommodate buyer behaviors in the modern world will make all the difference.