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Company-Crushing Killer #11: “Connecting Too Late in the Buyer’s Journey”

Part 11 in a series of 12 Company-Crushing Killers Lurking Inside Your Business Today…

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, Pool Builder Marketing LLC

Timing is everything. If you get it wrong, this foe wins.

The long road from prospect to buyer is traveled in stages. The finish line is crowded with competition, all waving offers, because by the end of the journey, the prospect has money in hand, and is ready to become a buyer. 

You don’t want to battle it out at the end, though. You want to win over their hearts and minds early in the process, so that when they get to the finish line, they don’t even THINK about talking to anyone else.

In theory, all buyers go through a three-stage journey as they (1) recognize a need or problem, then (2) consider their options, and finally (3) make the purchase decision. This “buyer’s journey” is better described as follows:

  1. Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem or need.
  2. Consideration Stage: The buyer researches different options to solve that problem.
  3. Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution, including the company to provide that solution.

In the Awareness stage, the buyer is just beginning to consider their options, (which may include the option to “do nothing”). 

In this stage, the buyer is wrestling between Benefits of Ownership (“Boy, it sure would be great to have our own swimming pool…”) versus Objections to Ownership(“Wow, this thing sure is going to be a hassle to maintain!”)

I’m sure you can guess the two most likely places your future buyer will look to start gathering information:

  • Friends and neighbors who have already done this.
  • The Internet.

With more than a decade of data collection under my belt, I can tell you that “friends” (i.e. referrals) and “the Internet” (both paid and organic) consistently represent about 80% of all leads for a pool builder. That’s why we want to make sure that (1) your past clients will say good things about you, and (2) your Internet presence says great things about your company.

Moving into the Consideration stage, the buyers are much more committed to solving this challenge. Their research will go as deep as necessary to help them feel comfortable about their decision. In our industry, this often includes such decisions and considerations as:

  • Inground, onground or aboveground?
  • Fiberglass, Gunite or vinyl?
  • Robotic cleaner, in-floor cleaning or pool service?
  • Chlorine, salt or “chlorine-free”?
  • Outdoor Kitchen, complete backyard, or just a pool?

In this phase, the prospective buyers are highly likely to visit your website, but UNLIKELY to contact you. That’s because – while they’re hungry for information – they’re not ready for an actual conversation. They need more information first.

It’s usually not until the Decision stage that the buyers will start reaching out to contractors to set an appointment and get a proposal.

Imagine if you could connect with a prospect way back in the “Awareness” stage? You’d have a golden opportunity to persuade them in your favor, long before they get to the finish line.

The dilemma here is that prospects in the Awareness stage have no reason to give you their contact info, so you have no idea they exist. It’s not until they reach out to you in the Decision stage that – if you’re lucky – you have a chance to compete. 

Now you’re forced to fight it out with competitors at the finish line, while the prospect shops around for the lowest price.
SOLUTION: 

The secret here is to somehow get the prospects in the Awareness and Consideration stages to change their behavior, and give you their contact info, even though they’re not ready to meet with you.

This is amazingly easy, but shockingly underutilized. 

You simply need to offer something on your website that helps them at this stage of their journey, without requiring them to talk to you on the phone, or set up a meeting. This could be:

  • A free planning guide.
  • A downloadable report (such as my personal favorite “10 Steps to the Perfect Pool”).
  • A free online or digital DVD. (Yes, people still want and request DVDs.)
  • Access to an informative, educational video series.

With a tempting low risk offer in place, you can easily collect the names and email addresses of these “future buyers”. 

And that’s all you need to initiate your own custom “buyer education” sales funnel. Hit them with multiple videos, emails, postcards and reports that steadily and thoroughly show them everything they need to know about their upcoming backyard project. 

Take months, if you need to. Even years. The key here is to continue educating these prospects “until they buy or until they die.

Obviously, no sales team has the manpower to interact one-on-one with all these future buyers. 

That’s why it has to be automated.

A properly designed automated sales funnel will allow you to you uncover and engage with each lead, offering the appropriate educational info for wherever they are in the buying cycle. Now you’re building a relationship with these prospects throughout the length of the sales cycle, rather than waiting until the very end.

And by automating this process, you can grow these relationships without strain on your sales team.

When these prospects are finally ready to meet with your designers, they’re educated and primed to finish their journey with minimal time and effort on your part.

CONCLUSION:

Automating your sales funnel with a broad-based and comprehensive nurturing system is the only way to find and persuade your prospects early in the game, and thus save your sales reps from the ugly feeding frenzy at the finish line.


NEXT WEEK – Company-Killer #12:
“IGNORING DIGITAL DISRUPTION”

This article is part of a series designed to provide pool companies with unique insights that will help them address the modern marketplace challenges their company may be facing. These insights, when applied, will virtually guarantee new growth, and get your company to the next level. 

If you find this information helpful, and would like to learn more, check out the short five minute video here.

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