“It’s not about your sales process, it’s about my buy process.”
Most sales forces have a semi-systematic way of selling their products: trade show visitors submit business cards to enter a draw -> these cards become leads -> follow-up by phone -> send marketing collateral through email -> work down the funnel -> always be closing -> close -> work on renewal and referrals.
There may even be scripts to warm-up cold calls. This is a good start, but consumers also have a process. While a company’s process may be interruption-oriented, the consumer’s process is search-driven and it matters more.
Let’s look at a general business case of DVD movies. What’s the consumer’s buying process for DVD movies?
The process may start with movie trailers at the theatre or on the web, which raise interests and awareness. Consumers may then wait and see the movie in theatres. This could be the screening phase (for the DVD buy process). Then consumers who like the movie will flag the movie. Then the search begins. This may be a search through weekly flyers, a search through word-of-mouth at the office, or a search through eBay. The DVD buy process will also be seasonal. In addition to sales channels, the buy process may overlap with the payment process or the refund process.
Whether it is a software service or perishable goods, one should have an internal flow chart of the customer’s buying process. If a company is planning an M&A exit, then the buy process is not only that of the corporate buyer, but also that of their customer.