Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Using Recurring Surveys to Identify Buying Triggers

Ever wish you had ESP -- yes, I'm talking about Extra Sensory Perception; the ability to see into the future, to know what people were thinking?

Well, you may NOT want to know what SOME people are thinking - but I'll bet you want to know what your prospects are thinking.  I'll bet you'd want to know when they were ready to buy what you're selling.  Don't laugh - it's actually possible to get to that information -- with a survey.

Analyze Your Successes

Did you know that most people focus on fixing a problem instead of focusing on their strengths?  This is especially true in sales.  Traditional sales management practice focuses on analyzing the details out of your failures and trying to not repeat them -- instead of analyzing the details out of your successes and trying to REPEAT them.  Believe it or not -- the results are very different.

The Prospect's Buying Cycle

  1. "It's fine --- really".  People would prefer to do nothing.  If everything is working at least somewhat as expected - they will not change.  In fact the pain of change and going through the process of change usually isn't perceived as having any value.

  2. "I gotta look for something better. "  At some point the status quo isn't really good enough.  Your prospect's radar is now up and they start noticing other people with better solutions, they start asking about what others are doing, they start searching the internet for some options.  They are learning and weeding out their choices.  This is the sweet spot of being at the top of their list.  Get their attention here and the sale is 90% YOURS.

  3. "Which one should I pick?"  At this stage of the game, they've got it down to about 3 solutions that are basically good enough.  Now price and finickiness take over.   It's a bitch to get chosen at this stage.

How to Use a Survey to Be There at The Right Time

Analyze your customers' world:If you just take a moment to analyze all your successful sales you're likely to find a common denominator.  This will be a sort of "leading indicator" that will raise the flag on when they are ready to purchase.  Here are some common indicators that people are ready to change:

  • They've switched jobs

  • They've moved

  • Their computer is more than 3 years old

  • Their wireless contract is running out

  • They're getting a divorce

  • They've had a baby

  • They got married

  • Someone died

  • Their company was bought or sold

See what I mean?  The possibilities are really endless - it just depends on finding that intersection between what you sell and what your customer wants or needs to be successful.

Profile the Perfect Prospect by Profiling Your Happy Customers. Develop a habit of surveying your customers in small doses.  As soon as they become a customer, find a way to send them a short profiling/demographic survey.  The purpose of this survey is to find out the basic demographic info.  Don't reach too far, just get the basics of gender, age, location.  Then throw in THE ONE most important question -- "Specifically what happened that triggered your purchase of our product/service"

If you have some ideas - then make this a multiple choice question with an "Other" option.  If you're not sure, then make it open ended and see what comes through.  You can make it multiple choice later.

Focus on Monitoring the Trigger

Depending on your product or service -- and how insanely curious you are - you may decide to create simple surveys that literally test for these trigger events with your customers or prospects.

For example - if you sell products or services for kids, and the trigger event is having a baby, you'll want to ask the question of how old the baby is and start tracking their growth and what they'll need at each stage.  There is a company that actually gets names of new mothers from hospitals and sends them a free age-appropriate learning toy about a week after they come home from the hospital.  It's like a toy of the month club.  If you keep the toy, you pay and if you send it back, you don't.  Every few months they send a toy that's exactly the right learning toy for the age of your child.  The marketing material is purely educational and is so good that it makes you feel like if you don't buy the toy - your child will never pick up this valuable developmental skill.

Crazy, but effective.

If you haven't thought a bout using surveys to identify and track your customer's purchasing triggers, then you are missing out on a very valuable sales and marketing tool.

Your prospects and customers will be more likely to choose you if you are there when they need you with information that they can use to make better purchasing decisions.

Interested in learning more?  Check out SHiFT - it's a super new book about how trigger events can help you increase your sales.  Read the book and use our online survey tool to create a survey to track your customer's triggers.
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