Laura Jean Holton By Laura Jean Holton • November 21, 2017

Buyer's Journey in Depth: Decision Stage

The decision stage is the last of three in the buyer’s journey. At this point, leads already know that your product or service is a good choice and are now comparing options to finalize a purchase. They will likely buy soon, but you need to ensure they pick you.

At this stage, key elements are the time you take to respond to leads and personalization.

For your hard work to pay off, you need to ensure that as many qualified leads as possible become customers. This involves

  • continuing your lead nurturing efforts
  • providing the right content at the right time
  • focusing your attention on leads who will convert 
  • abandoning those who are unlikely to become customers.

To achieve any of this, you need to determine when a user has moved from the consideration stage to the decision stage.

 

Buyer’s Behavior

 

The best way to judge where a user is in the buyer’s journey is to look at behavior. A starting point is what pages the user visits on your website. A lead looking to make a purchase will likely check pricing pages and contact pages and view content like case studies. Users at the decision step will spend time on these pages to make an informed decision. Leads at the consideration stage may also navigate to these pages but will likely spend less time there, as they are just seeking a general overview.

Qualified leads will take one of two actions: they will respond to a CTA to contact your company or they will visit pages several times. In the case of the first, a sales representative needs to react as soon as possible to complete the sale. In the case of the second, the lead will require more nurturing to become a customer.

Buyer's journey decision stage

 

How Does a User Become a Sales Qualified Lead?

 

Users become sales qualified leads (SQLs) when they match an ideal buyer profile. They will fulfill need, budget, and timing criteria, among other attributes.

To know when a user has reached this point, you need a clear definition of your SQL.

If having a definition of an SQL sounds unimportant, consider the data. HubSpot measured how many businesses were able to advance a lead to a first discussion more than half the time. Whereas only 34 percent of companies without a formal definition of an SQL were able, 63 percent of companies with a definition succeeded.

To connect with your leads more often, you need to create an SQL factor that is accurate. This means looking at the data from your CRM to determine what makes a customer different from a failed lead. Note down all the similarities of your customers and draw up a prospect profile — much like a buyer persona but for the purchase stage.

Buyer's journey decision stage

Make sure that everyone in your marketing and sales departments is clear on the definition of an SQL. This will ensure they know which leads to chase and which to leave alone, allowing you to focus your resources on the leads most likely to become customers.

 

Aligning Sales and Marketing

 

With B2B purchases, only 60 percent of the decision-making process is marketing — the remaining 40 percent happens with talking to sales. Without close alignment between your sales and inbound marketing teams, it is difficult to ensure that the final 40 percent of your effort is on track.

You have already started aligning sales and marketing by sharing the definition of SQL, but this alone is insufficient. You also need to ensure that leads are reaching your sales team only when they are qualified. For instance, if you use “contact us” as your CTA, you may receive contact information from leads who are far from ready to buy — they may just want more information.

By involving sales in the marketing process (and vice versa), you can provide the right information and nurturing at all times. Another way working together will benefit your company: you will know what is the right offer to encourage leads to convert.

Sales already knows what works — they know what they need to say to close a deal. Test the ideas they have and check the data to improve your methods. By talking to sales, marketing can also better establish what leads expect and define these expectations on the appropriate landing page.

For example, you can accurately state:

  • How long it will be until sales contacts a lead
  • What contact methods are available
  • Who will contact the lead and why this is the best option
  • How long the process will take and what steps are necessary to complete the sale
  • What the lead needs to do to be prepared for contact with your sales team

Finally, sales needs to be aware that if a lead is not ready to convert, there is no reason to abandon the opportunity. Instead, the sales representative should find out whether the lead requires more information to come to a decision or has specific queries. Sales should convey this to marketing to continue the nurturing process.

 

Lead nurturing

 

Distributing Appropriate Content

 

If you spend any time looking at offerings from other B2B companies, you will notice that there are numerous opportunities for free trials, estimates, and more. This may imply that you need a huge amount of content at the decision stage, but that is far from the truth.

The majority of your content should be for the previous two stages of the buyer’s journey — awareness and consideration. The last step is more about creating a final offer to turn just the most qualified leads into customers. This means crafting useful case studies and product literature to accompany demos and trial offers.

How to Nurture with Your Workflow

 

Workflows are a top way to deliver your content and nurture leads at any point in the buyer’s journey, but they are particularly useful for the decision stage, due to their emphasis on personalization. Although they may sound complicated, and it can be difficult to know where to start, anyone can use workflows effectively.

There are a couple different strategies to try with your email marketing.

 

Workflows based around existing content

 

If you’re just starting out and your content is limited, you can use what you already have to follow up with your leads. You will need to make a list of all of the leads at the decision stage. Note which buyer persona they match and what content they already consumed along with details about their other interactions with your business.

This will help you determine what content to send them. To encourage leads to consume the content linked to in your email, you need to add a motivator. A few examples of motivators include:

  • New information. Offer the lead a chance to become one of the first to see a new resource like a case study.
  • CEO recommendation. Write that the CEO or owner of your company recommends a certain piece of content based on the lead’s interest in other content.
  • Urgency. Invite a lead to take advantage of an offer available for a limited time only. This is ideal for content like a free trial, demo, or consultation.

Use the motivator to set the tone for your email. Focus on explaining the value you are offering and mention how the content relates to what the lead downloaded previously. Use this structure to create an email for each of your offerings and save them for automation.

When all your emails are ready, it is time to set up your workflows.

  • Upload your list of leads and set the workflows to un-enroll contacts once they meet your goal, such as by finalizing a purchase.
  • Decide on the order you want to send each email and set a delay between each.
  • Determine the timing of emails according to how long a lead needs to consume each piece of content.

 

Workflows based around an event

 

Start building excitement about an event you are holding, such as a webinar, by using a workflow.

Lead nurtuing workflows

Into your workflow tool, import your contact list of everyone who has registered for the event. You will then send them a sequence of emails.

  • The first email will confirm the lead’s attendance and provide details about the event. This can reach inboxes immediately.
  • The next email should contain further information, such as resources that will enable attendees to gain more from the event. Deliver this one week before the event.
  • A third email should serve as a last minute reminder with a few basic details.
  • Finally, email everyone the day after the event, providing them with materials that complement the event and assist in the purchase decision.

 

Decision to Delight

 

Even once customers have made a purchase, your work has not ended. Now, it is time to delight. This involves pushing for future sales and turning customers into promoters for your brand. To achieve this, you need to offer excellent customer service. Follow up with customers to find out how they are using your service and whether they require any extra help. You should also keep providing customers with content that is useful for them as individuals and continue to engage over social media.

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