Over the past few weeks, I have written several times about our strategy. This week, my focus is on the customer lifecycle. This concept highlights the journey that customers take. It is like a roadmap, and it is of great help to any company who wishes to sell successfully and repeatedly to their customers. (In other words, every company).
The lifecycle diagram identifies how customers and prospects can be at one of five stages, which are listed along the bottom axis. (feel free to click on the diagram to see it full size in a new tab)
These stages are:
- Awareness â€“ customers become aware of a need, as in â€œI think I need a new pair of shoes,â€ or â€œLet’s go out to dinner.â€ Another awareness component is simply noticing the existence of a new restaurant or shoe store but not yet feeling a desire to buy. In both cases, the motivation has not yet happened, but the raw materials are present in the customer’s mind.
- Interest â€“ a customer becomes interested in a brand or product. Comparison shopping or browsing starts to happen. No decisions have been made as to what to buy or from whom, but your products or brand might be emerging as contenders within a large field of options.
- Consideration â€“ at this point the customer has narrowed focus onto a particular product or vendor and is seriously considering the pros and cons of making a purchase. This type of deliberation can happen when buying something as expensive as a house, and equally with something as inexpensive as a 99-cent app online.
- Purchase â€“ the customer commits and makes the purchase. His/her experience during this segment will be highly influential in terms of future purchases. The transaction, whether online or in person must be seamless, frictionless and pleasant.
- Loyalty â€“ a customer who has enjoyed a positive purchase experience, and who is actually enjoying the purchased item can easily become an advocate; an enthusiastic supporter of your brand as well as a repeat customer and referral source.
Loyalty is to be treasured. It is the end-result of a highly personalized and attentive journey. The vendor must work hard at each stage of this journey, delivering an experience that reinforces the customer’s hopes and needs.
The Qualifirst Plan
To ensure we can walk this road successfully with each and every customer, we will establish three functional roles. This will help us manage and grow our sales.
- The Prospecting Manager: This person’s role is to build a prospect list and classify the prospects.
- Account Executives (Outside and Inside Sales): These individuals will be responsible for new customer acquisition as well as account growth. The sales team is actively responsible for the nurturing and management of â€œAâ€ and â€œBâ€ customers (customers that have the potential to buy over $5,000 a year).
- Automated Program: We will deploy a highly automated engine with some human interaction and support. This component will likely include one or two Inside Sales Representatives to address all accounts.
It is much easier to travel with a map, since it outlines the correct path to take and helps avoid roadblocks and delays. This lifecycle map will be our map, going forward.