A well-trained sales representative is able to identify a potential client’s needs by asking a series of well-formed questions. This can uncover useful information, but on the flip side, it provides little value to the customer. A ‘discovery’ sales call or interaction can sometimes be the second, third or even fourth questioning by a similar competitor.

Many sales representatives are shut out of a major opportunity at the very beginning of a sale, simply by not understanding their clients’ buying behavior. Shift your focus to learn how your potential customers discover solutions to their problem. If you learn how to effectively target, you will see a great increase in your success rate.

There are the five stages to a customer buying cycle. These five stages are awareness, consideration, intent, purchase and repurchase.

Awareness has a customer identify a need and realize that you or your company can fill that need. A client won’t use your product or service if they don’t recognize the need for it. The first step can be triggered by outside stimuli, such as advertising or word-of-mouth.

Consideration is how the client evaluates your product or service. This may include an evaluation of other similar companies.

Intent is a customer’s logical and emotional predisposition towards one solution or another, which leads to a decision.

Purchase and repurchase is the act of ordering or buying your product, with the hopeful, logical processes that leads to referrals or repeat business. All the previous steps are to reach the final stage, where a positive interaction with you and your product can leave a customer looking to repeat business, or refer you to their friends and family.

On that basis, it is common for clients to let others know about their experience. Either through online reviews, social media or word-of-mouth. It’s important to tread carefully to create a positive post-purchase interaction, in order to engage that client and make the process as efficient as possible.