Customer Buying Process: Understand, Believe, Act

A simple but very useful model we like for the customer buying process is “Understand, Believe, Act.” This post explains what it is and how to apply it.

Customer Buying Process: Understand, Believe, Act

The following is an edited transcript for an answer Sean Murphy gave to a question in a recent talk.

So the seven touches model–that your prospect has to hear your message seven times before they respond or take action–is a good rule of thumb. We use a simple model to support it called “understand, believe, act.” Because a prospect typically goes through a sequence of three states of mind:

  1. They try to understand what you offer and determine if it’s relevant to their needs.
  2. If it’s relevant, they try to determine if they can believe that you can deliver the results you promise.
  3. If they believe you, they wait for a specific reason to act.

Your conversations with them must address these questions in sequence. It’s pointless to stress the need to act if they don’t understand your offer or believe you can deliver. Likewise, it’s premature to stress your past results and reliability before they understand what you do.

So the first thing you need to do is explain what you can do for them in clear and direct language. You can use terms that the general public may be less familiar with as long as the vast majority of your prospects will realize what you mean immediately.

customer buying processFrom the beginning, you must act as a trustworthy partner committed to your prospect’s success. But it only makes sense to substantiate your promises once they understand your offer. While you can explain what you do, the best way to prove they should believe you is to share what others have said about you and offer a custom demonstration using their data or the specifics of their situation.

Finally, they need a reason to take action. They have to conclude that you are addressing a vital problem. If the situation is deteriorating it’s a reason to act now as delay means more damage and more cost later. They may face a regulatory or other deadline that spurs action. Sometimes they have an opportunity they may lose without your product or service.

I hope this helps you think about where your prospects are. They may need help understanding what you offer. They may not believe you can do it–and people will rarely tell you that they don’t believe you.

It’s also possible that they simply don’t have a reason to act. They understand what you can do and believe you can do it; they just don’t see the direct applicability of your offering to a critical need.

These are three different problems you must address with three very different messages. One’s going to be more how-to and explanatory. One’s going to be more case study-based. It can use a problem-intervention-impact or a symptoms-diagnosis-prescription-prognosis formula, which can help build trust. To encourage action, you can observe, “Here are specific symptoms in your business that indicate you have a situation we can help you address. Here is the economic impact of not dealing with that situation.”

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Photo Credit: Emmi Land “This is not going to end well

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