5 Stages Of The Buyer’s Decision Making Process

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Yes No or Maybe conceptsHow do you make a decision?
Ever thought about it?

Many of us have, and have used the facts behind decision-making in identifying how they should work with clients.

But many more haven’t studied this subject and consequently lose the ability to influence buyers in making decisions that will progress a sale and take the prospect on a journey of discovery.

Actually, most people make decisions at a deep psychological level without really identifying how the process is taking shape.

We all go through a process of making decisions without realising it, most of the time.

Just think about when you decide what to have at a restaurant, or what car you want to buy, or where you want to go on holiday.

You may think that many of your decisions are instinctive, but actually you are always going through a process, even subconsciously.

If you’re able to see what these stages are in the process, it will help you help the buyer to come to a natural conclusion, and it will answer many questions you may have as to why someone hasn’t made the decision to go with your product.

Let’s take a look at the stages and see how we can deal with them when discussing progress with a prospect:

Stage 1: Unawareness

At this point, the prospect isn’t aware of what options or choices they have. In a restaurant, they haven’t seen the menu yet.

In a sales situation, they have little idea of what your products can do for them.

If they look on-line, they are unaware of you until your marketing prowess opens their eyes.

The next stage is the obvious one:

Stage 2: Awareness

They may look on-line and checkout your website.

They may read your brochure or literature and see what it is you do.

They may get a phone call from your company.

Whatever way it happens, they now go through a series of connections that makes them aware of your product or service.

This awareness is simply that; aware of what or who you are. That has narrowed it down dramatically.

Think of the billions of people who don’t know about you (unless you work for Google or Facebook or Amazon, that is!).

This awareness is the next stage of decision-making.

Stage 3: Understanding

This starts to play at the intellectual level. In other words, they have a logical understanding of what you have to offer.

It could be anything from seeing the choice on the menu to knowing the range of offers you have to checking out the hotel amenities.

This understanding level narrows down the process, as it allows buyers to see for themselves what their business or lives would be like with your product or service.

Stage 4: Conviction

Now, emotion starts to play a role. It may look like you are very competitive price-wise, but that doesn’t convince people you are right for them.

At this point, they must be out of their comfort zone.

They must either associate pain with their current position so they need something or someone to solve their problem, or they see opportunities for the future that you are able to help them achieve.

Your solution has to be worth investing in, to solve their problems or take them on the journey to improved results.

When they see this happening, they have an emotional connection to the results and are convinced your solution will be the change they are looking for.

Stage 5: Action

If the first four steps are carried out effectively, this stage is the next logical step.

You as the sales consultant now can eleviate the fear of making this decision to take action.

If this is the area where most of your sales stall (lack of closing ability, etc), it’s probably because you haven’t built a solid foundation with the previous stages.

If everything has been done satisfactorily beforehand, the decision on behalf of the buyer to take action comes naturally.

The real danger here is in trying to make the buyer jump too quickly through the decision-making hoops.

Many salespeople will try to jump from understanding to action to quickly.

They forget that the buyer has to connect with the solution first.

Without doing that, you run the risk of creating fear in the buyer’s mind because you haven’t followed their natural pathway of making decisions.

So, try to identify where you are with each buyer on their decision-making cycle.

Be aware of the progress you need to make with each individual and, if you solidify each stage before moving on, you have a much better chance of linking in with the way they make their decisions.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Updated on: 13 December, 2016

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