The 5 Stages Of The Customer’s Decision Making Process

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

8 January, 2018

Woman Having Question Mark on faceWhen people make decisions, they have a shift of perspective.

That is, they stop wondering about the choices they can make and now start to live with the consequences of that decision.

The word comes from the Latin “Desicio”, literally meaning ‘to cut off from’.

So when your prospect makes a decision, he or she is cutting off from any other alternative.

This can be quite frightening for some people, as it mean they have made a choice and they no longer have options.

Some may actually feel happy when they have options, as it means they can choose between various things.

An actual decision means they have no need to seek further options, and that can make them feel fearful, in case they made the wrong decision and are cut off from other choices.

So, what is the process that most people go through in order to make a buying decision?

It’s not always as clear-cut as this, but here’s a five-stage process that would make sense to most buyers:

1) Recognising They Have A Problem.

Until that is clear, people would stay in their comfort zone and see no need for a change to the status quo.

The only reason a decision has to be made is because the current situation doesn’t match their map of what reality should be.

They have to move away from the pain, loss, challenge or problem they are experiencing and toward a solution.

You’re there to develop that need and help them on the journey

2) Search For The Solution.

As soon as the problem/challenge is recognised, the search for the solution starts.

Various criteria are drawn up to determine what would be a successful outcome for the situation as it stands.

This is often done online but will also involve face-to-face discussions to create the journey towards solving the problem

3) Evaluate Available Solutions.

As soon as potential solutions have been verified, the next step is to weigh up the potential for each alternative. Will it help me achieve my goals?

Does it fit my decision criteria?

Will one option be better than any other?

By making the evaluation, the prospect is able to weigh up the consequences of each choice and so ease the fear of making the wrong choice

4) Make The Choice And Decide.

This is the crux and will determine the success of the whole process.

This ‘cutting-off’ point may be exactly right for the company and solve their challenges immediately.

Or it may be the first step on a journey that may take a long time to evolve.

Hopefully, the decision-maker has evaluated the pros and cons and made the right decision against the criteria they were basing their decision on.

5) Evaluation Of The Decision.

It may take minutes, hours, days or weeks for the final decision to be made.

But when it’s been completed, the next stage is to see the value of the service or product in actual use.

If it lives up to expectation, then the decision can be verified; if it doesn’t, then recriminations often begin.

It may be only a small decision that is being contemplated, or it could be a massive, long-term venture the company is embarking on.

The same process could apply.

If you ensure you are there each step of the way on the journey, you create opportunities to assist the prospect in the whole process, hence reducing the fears and giving them confidence that making the decision to go with you was the right one all along.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Sales Blog | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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