buying decisions

5 Factors That Effect Small Business Buying Decisions

Kurt GraverBusiness Start-up Advice

Understanding what motivates customers to buy your product or service is critical to sales success. When you know your target audience’s pain points, values and objections, you can tailor your marketing and sales process to align with how they make buying decisions.

The customer purchasing process involves five key phases. Let’s explore these in depth:

1. Need Recognition

This first stage is when the buyer recognizes a problem or need that requires a solution. For example, someone’s car breaks down and needs replacement transportation to get to work. Or a business realizes their technology systems are outdated and hampering productivity.

As a seller, you must understand and frame your offering to fulfil the consumer’s core need. Describe how your product elegantly solves their pain point.

Once the need is identified, prospective buyers enter the information search phase. They start researching their options for addressing the need by talking to others, browsing online, comparing alternatives, etc.

This stage’s length depends on the problem’s complexity and available solutions. Providing valuable educational content to assist comparison shopping keeps you top of mind.

3. Evaluation of Alternatives

While searching for information, buyers evaluate the available solutions based on variables like cost, features, quality, reputation and ease of acquisition. They filter options to find the best fit.

For example, someone with a broken car may consider new vehicles, used cars, rentals, ride shares, public transportation, biking and more. Different options serve their need with pros and cons.

Position your offering as the ideal choice given your competitive strengths and their preferences.

4. Purchase

After researching and comparing alternatives, the buyer chooses the preferred option and makes the purchase. But the journey doesn’t necessarily end here.

5. Post-Purchase Evaluation

Once the product/service is purchased, the buyer evaluates whether it sufficiently meets their need and provides satisfaction. If disappointed, they may return it or switch brands.

Online reviews and simple return policies intensify post-purchase scrutiny. Exceeding expectations is crucial for retention and loyalty. Ongoing value shapes long-term perceptions.

External Factors Influencing Buying Decisions

Beyond these five stages, external factors heavily sway purchase decisions. As a seller, stay keenly aware of these ever-changing dynamics:

Economic Conditions

The economy greatly impacts consumers’ ability and willingness to spend. In downturns, people buy less and focus more on value. Convey how you help customers do more with less.

Consumer Priorities

Listen for your audience’s emerging needs, like convenience, personalization, quality, control over purchases, social responsibility, etc. Align with these priorities.

Technology Shifts

Leverage technologies customers adopt for researching, comparing, purchasing and engaging with your brand. Omnichannel experiences are expected.

Competitive Offerings

Continuously evaluate competitors’ offerings through the lens of your customer. How can you beat them on dimensions like price, quality and service?

Social Influences

Monitor social conversations involving your brand, competitors and industry. Lean into the positive buzz and quickly address negativity.

Marketing Strategies to Influence Buying

Armed with an understanding of the customer journey and external factors, craft marketing to sway decision-making:

Generate Problem Awareness

If people don’t recognize their needs, you must awaken that realisation through content, social media and advertising conveying the problem.

Establish Your Brand as a Trusted Resource

Provide ample educational materials, comparisons and guidance to position your brand as an authority buyers rely on while researching options.

Convey Superior Value

Persuasively communicate how your solution beats alternatives across dimensions like cost, quality, convenience, service, etc. – whatever the buyer prioritizes most.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Limited-time promotions, scarcity messaging and highlighting why immediate action is beneficial to drive quicker purchase decisions.

Overcome Hesitations

Address common objections, hesitations and fears head-on through messaging, guarantees, reviews and testimonials.

Reward Loyalty

Entice existing customers to leave positive reviews, refer friends, keep buying through loyalty programs giving VIP treatment, discounts and early access.

When you align your marketing and sales process with how modern buyers make decisions, you make it easy for them to choose you. Meet their informational needs, demonstrate value compared to alternatives, and structure offers to capitalize at each stage for maximum conversions.