Recently, I participated in a discussion on “the buyers journey.” In some ways, I suppose I should have been happy that we were at least focused on the buyer, normally we obsess about our products/solutions and how we inflict them on our customers.
We do need to be focused on our customers and what they are trying to achieve. But is the “buying journey” the right target of our attention? Are we being as helpful as we can be, are we creating as much value with our buyers as possible with just a focus on the buying journey?
As much as we’d like to think the primary mission of our customers is to buy and we want to be aligned with them, the reality is far different. Buying is just a small part of what our customers are concerned about–and probably the least important part of their concerns.
Buying is just a small part of what our customers are concerned about–and probably the least important part of their concerns.
Our customers focus on a number of things. At the simplest level, it’s just doing their jobs. Making sure they accomplish the goals they have in place, doing what their managers are holding them accountable to do. At higher levels, they are focused on identifying and addressing new opportunities. It may be developing new products, addressing new markets, growing their relationships with their customers, improving their own performance, building capacity and capability.
Sometimes, their attention is focused on problems or issues they may be having–defining them, evaluating solutions, implementing solutions, correcting performance deficiencies, improving their operations, reducing costs, improving quality, and so forth.
At the root of any of this, is change and change management.
The important point here, whether it’s keeping things going, operating normally, or addressing opportunities, or problems, or managing change, the context is very broad. It may or may not involve buying anything.
As we dive into these issues, we learn that buying, if any buying is involved is just a small part of what the customer is trying to achieve. And their buying may not be just about our products/solutions, they may be looking to buy a whole number of things. That’s because what they are trying to do isn’t just about us.
Being buyer focused is important–it’s far better than being focused on pitching our products.
But if we really want to understand and engage our customers, we have to recognize that buying activities and journeys are the smallest part of what our customers are concerned about in addressing opportunities, problems, and driving change in their organizations. If we want to create great value with our customers, we should focus on where they are investing most of their time.
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.