You’ve overcome one of the primary hurdles every company faces. Your company, products, and services have been discovered. Your upstream and downstream Marketing efforts related to segmentation, positioning, content, social, and SEO are paying off. What do you need next to grow? You need consideration.  

choices, consideration set, consideration phase, customer buying journey, conversation, convert, growth, mpm, customer centric, customer centricity

A study by McKinsey Global Institute found a strong correlation between initial consideration and organic growth. Echoing the words of McKinsey, “consideration is a company’s most critical battleground.” If you want to grow, you must be able to successfully tackle the next hurdle: consideration.  

Consideration as it relates to the customer buying journey means your company and your offer have made the short list of options and are among the “consideration” set. This suggests that prospective buyers have completed their initial steps and are closing in on their buying decision.  

Stay with us to learn 1) how a customer journey map helps you determine the intersection of your sales process and customer consideration, 2) the six C’s of the customer-centric buying process, 3) the three key B2B conversations needed to move your prospect from communication to consideration, and what exactly to ask in each conversation type. 

Yes, I Want My Growth Idea

 

How to Determine the Intersection of Your Sales Process and Customer Consideration

Because consideration is important to growth, these three abilities are essential, the ability to:

choices, consideration set, consideration phase, customer buying journey, conversation, convert, growth, mpm, customer centric, customer centricity

  1. Match where consideration falls in the customer buying journey. 
  2. Map the customer journey to your internal pipeline management process. 
  3. Move prospects from one stage in their buying journey to the next.  

Without the first ability, you cannot achieve the remaining two. Yet, many do not know where consideration fits into the customer buying journey. As a result, companies often move prospective customers into the consideration phase too soon. In these models, for example, a company may show interest by downloading a document, an indicator of consideration even though the prospect is nowhere near ready to home in on their options. Other companies place this phase too early in their internal pipeline models, especially if they use the “waterfall” language. In these models, consideration needs to be translated into one of the waterfall categories. For example, in the new Forrester Decisions Waterfall, is consideration part of the prioritized demand, qualified demand, or pipeline stages? 

Other companies believe consideration matches the evaluation stage. We suggest that consideration is more likely to be part of the steps prospects take during their selection phase. What you might need to deliver and to whom in the evaluation stage is most likely different from the selection phase. This is why understanding the specific behaviors, roles, and personas of the customer is critical to moving a prospect forward in the buying process.  

This lack of clarity leads to extensive fallout between consideration and purchase.  

As an alternative, we classify consideration as one of the six C’s for building a customer-centric pipeline. In our model, consideration comes after contact, connection, and conversation. It is the last step before consumption and community. Prospects have already completed their investigative and option identification steps.  

The Six C’s of the Customer-Centric Journey. 

Source: VisionEdge Marketing, Inc. 

contact, connection, conversation, consideration, consumption, community

Why is consideration much further into the process? We have found that experience with the company, people, and its product are often critical to reach consideration in a complex consultative buying journey. Once in the consideration stage, engagement with sales is essential for moving from consideration to purchase. HubSpot reports that 60% of prospective buyers want to connect with someone in sales during the consideration stage. 

 

Want to Move Prospects to Consideration? Conversation is the Key

To improve consumption, that is purchase, and growth, companies need to be able to increase the number of opportunities that enter the consideration phase. 

Knowing how to move people into this stage takes a deep understanding of the customer buying journey 

In a B2B deal, we’re not buying chocolate nor are we buying pens and paper, which businesses may buy from other businesses. These purchases fall squarely in the realm of the traditional B2C buying journey. Conversations are unnecessary. True B2B purchases that are considered take careful thought, often a major investment, and require a conversation.   

 

Good Conversations Need Customer Insights and Competitive Intelligence

Many organizations believe that once conversation is in play, they’ve achieved consideration.. Just because you are engaged in conversations with a prospective customer doesn’t mean you have a qualified opportunity, i.e. a prospect who is seriously considering purchasing from you. In addition to careful thought, consideration suggests a company is weighing their options: 1) to continue with the status quo, 2) to choose among a set of suppliers, or 3) to attempt it on their own. All three these fall into the competitive set of options.  

Conversation is the precursor to building any relationship. You cannot acquire a customer that requires a considered purchase without a conversation. In our work, we have found that there are three primary types of conversations. All three types need elements developed in the domain of upstream Marketing.  

  1. Exploratory. Is there a product – prospect fit? conversation, company, meeting, prospects
  2. What is their process for choosing a solution? 
  3. Why should they choose you? 

As part of the conversation stage, you’ll want insights into the problem customers are facing, why they need to solve it, and how they currently solve it. You’ll also want competitive intelligence. What are the solution options? Who are the potential suppliers? What are the pros and cons for each option and competitor? 

This general information helps lay the groundwork for the exploratory conversations–the first type of conversation.  

 

B2B Conversations Needed to Move Your Prospect from Communication to Consideration

1. Exploratory Conversations enable you to gain more specific insight relevant to the prospect’s particular situation and challenges, their goals and what success will look like, and questions they are trying to answer. These will help determine what we refer to as “fit.” Does what you offer fit with what they need? Are you a viable solution?

If the answer is yes, then you are ready to engage in and check off two essential types of conversations before you move an opportunity into consideration.

2. How They Choose a Solution. These conversations aim to understand what process the company is using to choose a solution. If they don’t have a process, offer one. Processes for these conversations can come in the form of a solutions map, process map, and/or checklist.

choices, consideration set, consideration phase, customer buying journey, conversation, convert, growth, mpm, customer centric, customer centricityWe lean toward solution maps because they are designed to create a dialogue between you and the prospect for the purpose of identifying and outlining a range of alternatives, detailing when each alternative is most appropriate. In an indirect way, you help the prospect consider all the potential options. The solution map usually includes a “screening” or “rating” component that enables the prospect to begin to clarify which options meet their necessary conditions and are feasible. Upstream Marketing helps define the option categories, identify competitors in the category, and develop the screening/rating criteria.

Your goal is to enable the prospect to connect the various options to specific situations or scenarios. It’s not about your solution yet, but about being able to help them compare solutions and figure out which ones are worthy of consideration. It is a consultation. This conversation type sets the stage for the next one.

3. Why Your Company and Offer is the Best Solution. The goal of this conversation is not to close a deal. The goal is to ensure your company and solution are perceived as among their best options for achieving success based on the selection criteria, and to tease out the objections. This is an important point. Aim to surface objections before you move them into consideration.  

In this conversation type, focus on their problem and provide evidence for how your company and its solution has addressed this problem in the past. Ascertain whether this example applies to their situation (an opportunity to raise an objection). In this conversation set it’s vitally important to demonstrate you are extremely familiar with the problem and that you understand what it takes to solve it. A deep understanding of the problem comes from work completed in the upstream. 

Raise the “concerns” similar customers have had and address each one as part of the conversation. Try to determine if any of these concerns are among their worries. Remember, the goal of the conversation is to end up on the short list of options. You want to learn what, if anything, is keeping or will keep you off the list.  

The more specific you can make the conversation match the prospects’ situation the better. Ideally you will have content to support these two types of conversations. Behaviors such as requesting or accessing this content provides signals that the prospect is moving into the consideration phase. 

 

choices, consideration set, consideration phase, customer buying journey, conversation, convert, growth, mpm, customer centric, customer centricityMake Your Final Move

The successful outcome of these interactions is the conversion of the prospectfrom conversation to consideration. Your growth depends on consideration. Engaging in the right conversations is critical to achieving consideration. The more you can come prepared with customer insights and competitive intelligence to these conversations, the more likely you are to move opportunities into the consideration stage and ultimately achieve your growth goals.

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