Most buying decisions are not spontaneous. Instead, they involve a whole series of steps. For example, a company buying a new copier might appoint one person or a group of people to decide which copier to buy. Those people will quickly look at ten or twenty models, then choose three or four to evaluate more closely. The study group might then bring in other people and get their comments, and finally submit a purchase recommendation, which has to go into a yearly budget that has to be approved by management.
The key to the buying process is often not the actual purchase but the initial screening process. A copier company won’t get any sales if it isn’t in any of the three or four copiers a purchaser will evaluate. A company will have a tremendous advantage if it can find a place in the buying process where no other company is promoting its products or services.
- List the key customer characteristics you noted while evaluating your customer with the five questions.
- How do customers want to relate to you?
- Why do customers buy from you?
- Why don’t customers buy from you?
- What features and benefits do customers want?
- How do customers buy?
- From your list, pull out the characteristics that are not being met or being met poorly. These are opportunities to be better than everyone else.
- Take an 11- by-17 inch piece of paper and label it “Customer Needs/ Possible Strategies.” On the right side, make a list of customer needs. List the five or ten characteristics that you pulled out on the left side. Spread them out as much as possible over the top two – thirds of the page. This is the start of the most important chart you’ll pull together to determine the market strategy.