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Selling Online: Detecting Your Prospect’s Buying Triggers

One of the most frequent question I hear is: How do you know which message to use for a landing page or advertising campaign? It’s the right question. The wrong message will overpower good design, the right channel, and even a great giveaway.

The answer is, of course, it depends on where your prospect is in the buying cycle. There are 4 major steps in any purchase decision. How can you tell where your prospect is? You need to identify their buying triggers.

In order to dig into those buying triggers, let’s use an example we can all relate to: shopping at the mall.

Learning about Buying Triggers at the Mall

The best shopping experiences are in the mall. They’re just so darn good at converting you from a wandering, lost soul to a customer. So let’s look at how they interact with you and learn a few lessons about identifying buying triggers.

Consider that you see a store that you’ve never been in before, and linger outside as you look at it. Maybe you’re in the mall looking at the sign trying to figure out who they are and what do they do. Before you’ve even made the choice to engage with that particular business, you’re basically loitering.

It’s a strong term, but it’s a good one to explain that initial part of any interaction. This term applies to people who just come to your website and then pop right off again; the term ‘high bounce rate’ is used to describe this occurrence. These are Loiterers, not even really prospects at this stage. They are people who are just coming to kind of hang out, and so we start off growing customers with that phase.

How to Interact With a Loiterer: “Learn More”

The very first call-to-action in any marketing strategy to even the most unqualified prospect is learn more. This basic invitation is designed to be the lowest level of commitment you can ask of a prospect – simply spend some time to find out more.

The learn more call-to-action is also one of the most commonly used online strategies to get prospects to provide information. All of content marketing is essentially a learn more strategy. Any free offer that teaches your prospect something they didn’t know before is a learn more call-to-action.

These learn more calls-to-action may be phrased in relation to the thing you’re teaching. For example, CrazyEgg’s website says Show Me My HeatMap which is actually teaching their prospect something new they didn’t know before.

The buying trigger you’re looking for is someone responding to your learn more call-to-action. They are raising their hands and giving you permission to continue to market to them.

Keep in mind that your prospect is responding because they really do want to learn something – so don’t hide sales material behind a learn more call-to-action. If you think your prospect is ready to buy, then give them a buy now or a fix it call-to-action that is much more in line with their expectations.

Lesson: You need something clear and bold to explain what you are to a Loiterer.

Back to the Mall

Let’s assume that something about the store has attracted you. This is the point at which you enter the store because you’re just trying to get a sense of what’s going on or what they sell.

You know what happens next. A salesperson approaches you and asks if you’re looking for something. Your response is almost automatic,

“I’m just looking.”

I call that a Looker.

Somebody who is just beginning to engage in your business but doesn’t really know whether or not you even have something to purchase is just looking.

But they’re just looking because they haven’t figured out yet what it is they want or need. It’s the store’s job to lay everything out in a way that you can discover it yourself, because you’re likely not going to engage with a salesperson at this point.

A Looker is really interested in first impressions. Things are very emotional and visual at this stage. This is why a store puts their bed out with bedspread, nightstands, and furniture – so you can imagine it in your home.

They don’t just stack the beds up against the wall and make you go through them.

You too, will have to help your Looker visualize their life after using your product or service.

A salesperson who engages too early – and too forcefully – at this stage will not be growing customers. They will be chasing them off.

But more importantly, unless they can imagine themselves walking out with something in that store, they’re going to leave soon. Their time is valuable and unless something in this store makes an impact, they’ll just move on.

How to Engage with a Looker: “Better Life”

This call-to-action is the one most familiar to us on TV commercials. Because you are not likely to get up from your couch and buy something immediately, most big brands try to make you feel better about buying their product – when you finally get around to it.

Think of almost every beer commercial you’ve ever seen. You’ll be sexier, have more friends, richer…. you get the idea.

Sure, the better life is solving a problem, it’s just not one you’ve identified yet.

The marketing strategy here is to simply brand a product as creating a better life – whatever that means for your perfect customer. So, this call-to-action is focusing on your felt needs, something you need, but haven’t verbalized or even thought about yet. It operates at an emotional level.

The Looker responds best to the better life call-to-action because they want what you show – even though they didn’t think they wanted it before they met you. It’s a critical way to help your prospect identify their need – even if it’s not spoken.

Don’t think this call-to-action is only useful in TV advertising. It’s also critical in direct marketing.

If your prospect doesn’t immediately know or believe that they have the need you’re addressing, you’ll have to show how your product or service will create a better life.

Depending on how quickly you can convince your prospect that you can provide that better life, you may have a Get a Stress-Free Life or Have More Spending Money call-to-action. This is the direct marketer’s equivalent of the beer commercial.

The buying trigger here is responding to your better life call-to-action. By responding to that, they have raised their hands and indicated that they do indeed want what you are offering. Of course, they have no idea how it works or how much it costs; you still need to earn the right to close the sale, but for now, you’re on the right track.

Lesson: You need to paint the vision to the Looker with a description of how you can change their life.

Browsing in the Mall’s Store

Now imagine that you’re looking in this brand new store and suddenly something catches your eye.

You realize that it’s something you might like or need. This would be the point when you might pick something up off the shelf, examining it.

At this point you are comparing and contrasting. You look at the price, you look at the tag and you look at what’s in it.

Now you’re a Shopper, really engaged and ready to make a decision about whether this is something that you need.

It’s important to note that before this point, you probably wouldn’t have been interested in a conversation with a salesperson. And you definitely wouldn’t have been interested in the features of the product.

The store can really start engaging with Shoppers by making it easy to align your need with the benefits of their products. Make it easy to read, easy to find.

Better yet, provide personalized and customized tools and services that connect your prospect’s need with the benefits you offer. The more personalized, the better.

Interacting with the Shopper: “Fix It”

Before a prospect is ready to buy, they often just want to fix their problems – which of course, may encourage them to buy.

The fix it call-to-action is geared towards making your prospect’s problem go away.

Quick Sprout has a great fix it call-to-action on their home page.

They identify the problem: you don’t have enough traffic.

Want to fix it? Then sign up.

The fix it call-to-action can lead to a sale, but more often it precedes it.

You’ll see many businesses using a fix it call-to-action almost immediately. That’s fine if the problem you’re trying to solve is so obvious that it needs to introduction.

But for many business owners, that problem can be obscure. Many times our prospects feel the pain, but don’t know where that pain is coming from. If you find yourself having to explain that to your prospects, you may be jumping to the fix it call-to-action too quickly.

The Shopper knows what his or her problem is and wants it fixed. Any language that encourages him or her to fix that problem qualifies.

It’s a strong call-to-action and can often be used to figure out what kind of prospect you have and how best to help them.

Often, fix it calls-to-action come in groups with the prospect choosing the one that is aligned with their need. Here, the marketing strategy is to sort prospects by need segments so you can point them in the direction of the right solution.

The buying trigger here is interacting with your fix it call-to-action. By clicking on it, your prospect has raised their hand and indicated, yes, they do in fact have the pain you’re describing and want a way for it to go away. Now, it’s time to discuss how you do that.

Lesson: You need to present the benefits of your product or service in a way that matches the need of your Shopper – just the facts at this point, but no sooner.

Want help with the sales conversation that should follow the fix it call-to-action? Download this free High-Ticket Sales Script and fill in the blanks to close more high-ticket service deals:

Download the High-Ticket Sales Script

Heading to the Cash Register

If that decision is positive, your prospect move from being a shopper to being a Buyer.

A buyer is somebody who’s ready to make a purchase.

This is where retail separates the winners from the losers. How do you feel in a store when you’re ready to buy but you can’t find the cash register? Or worse, you find it, but there’s no one there to help you?

Have you ever walked out of store because you couldn’t buy what you wanted to?

Retailers that make it obvious to find the cash register do well. Either it’s in an obvious place or you are accompanied by a salesperson who will take you there personally.

Anything else is a failure of experience. You can’t be growing customers if they can’t buy from you.

This may be obvious if you have an ecommerce site. But sometimes our products or services require a few steps to close the deal.

If so, don’t “hide the cash register.” Make sure your prospect knows how to become a customer.

Interacting with a Buyer: “Buy Now”

The most direct and common call-to-action is the one that expects the prospect to whip out their wallet: buy now!

You can see buy now phrased different ways in different product areas. On an e-commerce catalog, that call to action may first just say “Add to Cart.” But fundamentally, we’re asking the prospect to buy the thing they’re adding to their cart.

Other times, buy now may be phrased in terms of the product you’re looking to buy. Such as Become a Member or Build My Plan. This type of wording is much more relevant and specific to the situation and can lift response by personalizing the request.

Sometimes buy now doesn’t involve money, but instead requires the prospect to get started with the product for free. This variation is common among “freemium” business models, products that have a free trial period, or a money-back guarantee.

In all of these cases, the buy now call-to-action is directed at a prospect ready to commit.

Depending on your product or service, this may take some time to develop. In the case of e-commerce, often the user can go from Loiterer to Buyer very quickly, so an Add to Cart and Purchase Cart makes sense.

But sometimes, you need to build trust with your prospect and a buy now call-to-action on the very first interaction is too much, too soon.

Instead, build a marketing strategy that builds trust first, and then pounce with the buy now call-to-action after the prospect has signaled they’ve moved through all the buying phases.

The buying trigger here is the ultimate of all buying triggers; clicking the buy now button. Of course, as you know, your work is not done. You need to have a clean, crisp transaction process, handle any last objections, and fulfill in a manner that makes it easy to do business with you.

Many a business has been damaged by the virtual “long lines at the checkout counter” – even when you don’t have a physical store.

Lesson: You need to explain how to transact business with your Buyer; be clear about how to buy your product and execute it efficiently.

Blending All 4 Calls-to-Action to Detecting Buying Triggers

Each and every call-to-action needs to be used with the appropriate audience. We are building trust and credibility – slowly – with each communication or piece of content. You need to match the content with the call-to-action.

It’s just as bad to have a call-to-action too early in the process as it is to allow your prospect to back slide.

Don’t encourage your buyer to buy and then follow up with a Learn More call-to-action.

This process of going from Loiterer through Looker, to Shopper, to Buyer is what I call migration. It is the ability of a prospect to choose to engage with a business on a deeper and deeper level until they choose to become a customer.

In some sense, you aren’t growing customers – they’re developing themselves. All you can do is provide them what they need – exactly when they need it – and detect the signal of migration – the buying triggers – in the moment they happen.
As you learn to use each of the 4 calls-to-action with the right audience, you’ll find that you lead your prospect through the sales process smoothly and with maximum trust.


© 2016 DK New Media.

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