The Four Stages of Shopping and Buying

By Jeff Shore

Stage Three: Buying

Read part 1 here.

Read part 2 here.

Read part 3 here.

Car-future-carLast night I picked up my new car. That means a salesperson got paid. Score, right? Except for one thing. As a golfing instructor once said, “Just because the ball went straight doesn’t mean you did anything right.”

The fact is that there was no sales presentation to speak of. This salesperson benefited from being alive in 2014, when a customer’s access to information gives them a decided advantage. No one sold me a car; I purchased a car.

Alas, I had longed to write a post about my amazing purchase experience. It was not to be.

From a customer’s perspective (my own, in this case) there were three parts to this buying process:

1.  Choose my stance

My attitude as a buyer is a choice. I had to select my disposition and put on the right face for the situation. It is up to the sales professional to break down any barriers. It is not my job as a customer to be nicey-nice to a salesperson. The customer’s positive attitude is something that is earned.

2.  Evaluate my options

Even though I knew what I was looking for, I had not made my final decision. That means my mind was racing through the various options. Make, model, color, price…all were in play. Top professionals play the role of options clarifiers, constantly narrowing down the choices. I didn’t get a top professional…I got cricket sounds.

3.  Make my decision

It was clear that no one was going to ask; I had to inform the salesperson of my decision to purchase. Pathetic. You know the actual problem: I really wanted to be excited in that moment! The salesperson forced me into a procedural conversation. How sad.

Here’s the rub. I just described those three steps from a customer’s perspective. And that is why we need sales professionals. I was totally left on my own to walk through this last stage of the process. I managed, but it would have been a joy to journey through with someone who cared enough—and was bold enough—to go with me.

The four stages of the purchase process:

  1. Dissatisfaction
  2. Mulling
  3. Active Shopping
  4. Buying

The salesperson might have very little to do with stages 1-3. But oh, stage 4. That’s when the magic happens. That’s when the top professionals shine. That is when we change people’s world.