The past 10 years has seen traditional selling change substantially. This is reflected in how new business is now generated and how and when professional sales people engaged with buyers.
Marketing has always sought those moments, or touch points, when consumers are open to influence. For years, touch points have been understood through the metaphor of a “funnel”—consumers start with a number of potential brands in mind (the wide end of the funnel), marketing is then directed and professional sales people engage with them as they methodically reduce that number and move through the funnel. At the end they emerge with the one brand they chose to purchase (Exhibit 1). But today, the funnel concept fails to capture all the touch points and key buying factors resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer.
The funnel metaphor does help a good deal—for example, by providing a way to understand the strength of a brand compared with its competitors at different stages, highlighting the bottlenecks that stall adoption, and making it possible to focus on different aspects of the marketing challenge. Exhibit 2 represents a current view of the customer decision journey.
Contrary to the funnel metaphor, the number of brands under consideration during the active-evaluation phase may now actually expand rather than narrow as consumers seek information and shop a category. Brands may “interrupt” the decision-making process by entering into consideration and even force the exit of rivals.
Marketing used to be driven by companies; “pushed” on consumers through traditional advertising, direct marketing, sponsorships, and other channels.
In today’s decision journey, consumer-driven marketing is increasingly important as customers seize control of the process and actively “pull” information helpful to them. Our research found that two-thirds of the touch points during the active-evaluation phase involve consumer driven marketing activities, such as Internet reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, as well as in-store interactions and recollections of past experiences.
For more information on driving best practice in selling within your organisation, contact ProAptivity today on 028 90735630 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.