Setup of Buying Model

The diagram below depicts the setup of the Buying Model. Note that the Y-axis defines the buyer’s level of concern, while the X-axis represents time. The time period depicted represents the duration of the buy cycle.

 Buying Stages

Notice too that over time buyers progress through five distinct stages.

In the first stage there is recognition by the buyer of what we call a “background” critical business issue (CBI). In this stage, the buyer recognizes that they have a particular critical business issue, but there is little interest or ability to resolve it at that time. Note though that it is a critical business issue. So why does the buyer shove it in the background of their mind? Why do they not work now towards its successful resolution? There can be a number of reasons:

  • The buyer may just have too many other pressing critical business issues that they are working on, and simply do not have the time or ability to take on another. In essence, it goes to the bottom of the queue.
  • The buyer may have taken the time to look for a solution to the critical business issue, and concluded that there is not an acceptable one out there at this time.
  • The buyer may have taken the time to look for a solution, found one (or more) and concluded it is in the “too much” category…
    • Too much cost
    • Too much time
    • Too much risk.
  • In a worst-case scenario, the buyer may have found and bought a solution, but failed with the implementation. These buyers commonly blame their vendor for this situation and are understandably “gun shy” when comes to future pursuit of a resolution.

The second stage is known as “discovery.” In this stage the buyer’s Background CBI moves the to the foreground, i.e., in the mind of the buyer s/he feels they must resolve the CBI and do so soon. The reasons for this movement to the foreground could be numerous: The boss says it is important and needs to be solved, a new solutions comes to market, the buyer resolves one or more issues and the CBI that had been in the background moves to the foreground, etc. It is in this stage that the buyer analyzes why they believe they are having the CBI, and identifies the set of capabilities (collectively, the solution to the problem) they need to solve it.

Once the buyer develops a vision of a solution to their problem in Stage 2, a great deal of analysis is done on the part of the buyer to determine if there is a vendor/provider who can provide the capabilities they need, whether it can be done meeting ROI expectations, whether it can meet their time frame, etc. Let’s take a look at the implications internally on making these changes. It’s a great deal of analytical work gets done. In stage four, two important things happen. The buyer says “Do I want to do this; or not?”

Stage 4 is characterized by risk. It is here where the buyer is getting ready to make a go/no go decision because they are confronted by the time, effort, expense, and risk if they actually do move forward. A decision is made as to whether to not look back and go forward with a provider, or not go forward at all. That’s decision time. There’s also an interesting thing that happens in this stage. The buyer says, “Am I getting the best value for my buck? Can I squeeze these guys (i.e., the sales organization)?” Once these decisions are made a contract is signed.

Once the decision is made, the buyer moves into Stage 5. Here the solution is implemented and, as a roll-out proceeds, the benefits are measured.

In the posts that follow we’ll take a closer look at the three major concerns that buyers have throughout the buy cycle: The Solution, the Value, and the Risk. And, by understanding this, we’ll see how sellers can better align with their buyers and win significantly more business!