The concept of the buyer journey is nothing new but in my opinion, most people, including sadly marketers, look at it the wrong way when it comes to marketing and selling consulting.
Here is our version of the buyer journey map and here I’m only going to focus on the right-hand side because that’s the important bit and if you don’t have that half right the other half doesn’t happen anyway.
Let’s start at the top where your prospective client, and assume we are talking about a CEO or equivalent economic buyer, who is sitting in what we call “status quo world”.
They have a myriad of business problems on their plate, some more pressing than others and another set they are not even aware of, in any case at this stage they are not doing anything about them.
For them to take some action and loosen the status quo there has to be some kind of trigger event and nine times out of ten that is an internal trigger. For example, it could be a new initiative or a business problem that has reached a level of pain that needs to be addressed.
The problem is then acknowledged at an organisational level and the client starts exploring options on how to solve it. The natural inclination is to try and solve it internally and if they can’t, they will seek external resources to help.
That being the case they start the search for a vendor.
At this point they have a number of options;
- Call someone they already know
- Ask trusted advisors or peers for referrals
This is the purple circle at the bottom of the buying cycle and it’s at the bottom for a reason.
In the above scenario by the time they get to the bottom, it’s more than likely you have no idea what’s transpired beforehand and had little to no influence on their buying decision.
This leaves you in the weakest possible position and the client in the strongest.
What are the chances that they even contact you particularly if they don’t even know you exist?
Of course, if you are lucky enough to be referred in, you have a good chance of winning the work but there is a downside to that.
- Is it really what you do or want to do?
- Has the problem been misdiagnosed?
- Is this the way you want to win work – relying on others and what they say, waiting for the phone to ring?
- Are you continually networking and grovelling for work?
- No visible pipeline?
If you haven’t been referred and are part of some sort of pitch / tender arrangement then you are just another entrant in the beauty parade with the client holding all the power and destined to make the wrong decision for all except one of you.
But what if there was another way, a way in which you never end up down the bottom?
The good news is that there is!
I know there is because we work another way and that’s also how we help our clients work.
Go back to the top of the diagram and note the external trigger bubble.
What about if instead of waiting for the internal trigger you were the trigger, you were the one that moved the client from the status quo to acknowledging they have a problem and how to fix it?
What if you could catch that client before they even knew they had a problem and helped them to see that they do and why?
That’s what we do – we act as the external trigger and inject ourselves as early as possible into the buying cycle before anyone else even has a clue we are there.
And what if you captured that prospective client that early and were able to influence their buying decision and nurture them into your worldview, and when they were ready to buy they never went to market they just called you directly even if they had never even met you?
That’s a position where you have power in the buying cycle, where you don’t have to sell, where you can work your way, where you can charge more, where no one else even gets a look in, where you can have and build a visible pipeline of clients at different stages of the buyer journey.
And as a bonus, if you’re talking to the economic buyer you don’t need the left side of the map.
In closing let me tell you that one place I don’t miss is that bottom bubble and now I’m out, I’m never going back.
If you want to leave that world too, feel free to get in touch.