Marketing Monday: Do you know why your customers choose not to buy?

The goal of marketing is, at its most basic, to encourage people to buy.

Reach the right audience in the right place with the right product at the right price, tell them the right things about you and your product, and boom, sales.

A few weeks back, I wrote about making sure your marketing is in sync with your sales process. Often that means listening to the customer more.

Building on that idea, check out Harvard Business Review’s recent article, “Why Customers Don’t Buy.” It’s important to understand your customer’s decision — or lack thereof — to better connect your marketing with driving that process forward. The author, Steve Martin, begins:

The real enemy of salespeople today isn’t their archrivals; it’s no decision. That’s according to the survey of several hundred business-to-business salespeople I conducted recently.

Before spelling out several different kinds of specific stress your customer could be feeling, Martin writes:

Regardless of the prospective customers’ confident demeanor, on the inside they are experiencing fear, uncertainty, and doubt while making their selection. The stress this creates serves as the key factor in determining whether or not a purchase will be made. Therefore, all salespeople need to understand this lowest common denominator of human decision making. They need to understand the nature of stress.

From a psychological perspective, stress shortens attention spans, escalates mental exhaustion, and encourages poor decision making. From an organizational perspective, when anxious evaluators experience too much stress it typically results in analysis-paralysis. They are too overwhelmed with information and contradictory evidence to make a decision. It’s the salesperson’s responsibility to anticipate and diffuse the main sources of customer stress during the selection process: budgetary stress, corporate citizenship stress, organizational stress, vendor selection stress, informational stress, and evaluation committee stress.

What’s stressing your customer and keeping him or her from buying? Martin says it could be:

  • Budgetary Stress
  • Corporate-Citizenship Stress
  • Organizational Stress
  • Vendor Selection Stress
  • Informational Stress
  • Evaluation Committee Stress

What does that mean for marketing?

If you think budgetary stress is common for your customers, can your website or literature do a better job of explaining the ROI of your product? Or have you looked at your pricing to make sure you’re competitive in your industry? Maybe you need to offer an inexpensive introductory product to ease the customer in the door, or offer different payment plans, or something else appropriate for your audience’s needs.

What you do depends largely on what you sell and who your customers are. But starting with understanding why they might say no, or simply freeze and not decide at all, can help you be a better participant in that decision process.

Newvine Growing logoColleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.



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