Be aware of friction in your customers’ buying journey

Paul Nolan

Managers often express a desire to speed up the sales cycle. That’s understandable, but impossible to attain, says Martyn R. Lewis, CEO and founder of Market-Partners, Inc., a consultancy that helps companies manage the buying journey.

“You can’t speed up the selling because the customer and their buying journey set the pace. A better way to put it is they would like to speed up the buying process,” Lewis states. That’s not a matter of semantics, he argues. “You are implying that you want to speed up a process that lies outside your organization and seemingly outside your control.”

The key is to reduce friction within the buying journey. In his new book, “How Customers Buy... & Why They Don’t,” Lewis warns managers to beware of these barriers to a frictionless customer buying journey:

  • Overestimating the value of the offering – Most buyers only have a few value drivers on which they base their decisions. Many companies emphasize value propositions that all too often are of little or no value to their prospects while ignoring the areas that really are of value.
  • Underestimating what is required – Sellers underestimate what has to happen across the customer buying journey, including and compounded by a lack of attention to overcoming friction caused by buying concerns.
  • Being blind to friction – A company selling a new medical device that would be widely used in hospitals considered the 20 minutes of extra training that would be necessary a trivial matter while their prospective customers considered it a deal breaker.
  • Being blind to optimism – Anyone responsible for generating revenue directly from customers must be optimistic. However, when crafting a market engagement strategy, there is no place for optimism. Rather, a healthy dose of reality and a deep understanding of what it will take for a customer to move through their entire buying journey will save a lot of time, energy and disappointment down the road.