5 Step Customer Buying Cycle

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Regardless of what consumers or clients are buying, they all take a journey through a buying cycle- sometimes called a marketing or sales funnel. And, the better you understand that journey, the easier it is to move them to action.

There are five steps in a basic buying cycle- awareness, interest, trial, sale and retention. You could argue that there is a sixth step, which is when your customers become fans, advocating for your business with referrals and word of mouth. Here is a crash course in the buying cycle steps:

Awareness - they’ve heard of you and know what you offer

Interest - they want to know more and seek out information about you

Trial - they think you may have what they need and seek out evidence or proof

Sale - they take the plunge and make a purchase

Retention - they are satisfied customers and purchase again

Advocacy - they refer others to you and tell the world how great you are!

Our goal, as business leaders, is to figure out where customers are in the buying cycle and meet them there with compelling and relevant offers. Those offers are designed to move them to action- taking the next step in the buying cycle. To do that well, there are a few things we need to know about each step in the buying cycle:

  1. WHERE ARE THEY? Where do your customers look for information or offers at each step in the buying cycle? Which channels or media are they searching? Who are they asking?

  2. WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR? What information or offers are your customers looking for at each step in the buying cycle? What needs do they have? What questions are they asking? What pain point or gap are they trying to eliminate? What are they thinking?

  3. WHAT DO THEY VALUE? What motivates your customers at each step in the buying cycle? What offer can you make that will compel them to take action? What will they value at this time?

  4. HOW CAN YOU NET THEM? How can you keep customers in the buying cycle if they aren’t ready for the next step? What can you do to nurture them until they are ready to move forward?

On the surface, marketing and sales may look fairly straightforward, but what you see is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s really business strategy- making the right offer, in the right place, at the right cost, at the right time, to the right audience. I can help you get there!

Kris Marsh