5 stages your customers go through before they are ready to buy

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Selling psychology is something I’m reall passionate about.
If you’ve ever been to a networking event you probably had this happen to you once or twice. Someone comes over to say hello and instead of learning a bit more about you, they start talking about their services and shoving their business cards in your face.

That’s just plain rude.

And it doesn’t work.

It leaves this weird taste in your mouth.

It makes you think negatively of the person (and a brand, by extension) right away.

Yet even though we all know this is rude, we often do this mistake unconsciously on our websites, in our brands.

See, brands often sell too early.

They “shove their services” in your face before you even got a chance to “talk” and “get to know each other”.

Have you ever experienced that?

Well, today I want to talk to you about the psychological process you need to allow your customers to go through (and support them during this time) for them to be ready to hear and consider your offer.

 

Selling psychology: 5 stages people go through before they are ready to buy

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Sales funnel is not what you think

If you’ve been in business for some time you surely heard about the “sales funnel”.

You probably know you need one and you also know they can help you tremendously with selling your services or products.

Most marketers focus on the technical side of the funnel though:

  • what is the goal of the funnel,
  • what steps to include,
  • what content to include,
  • how long should it be,
  • how to measure its success.

What they don’t talk about though, is the fact that the sales funnel is a psychological process rather than a set of technical steps.

It’s the process people need to go through to be able to be ready to hear about and consider your offer.

Sales funnel is a chance for them to:

  • get to know your brand,
  • become aware of the problem they might have,
  • become interested in the solution,
  • get to know your solution,
  • consider your offer,
  • buy from you.

During this process, if it’s set up right, you’re able to build a connection and relationship with your prospective customers and for them to advance to the next level in a natural way.

No pushing, no awkward selling.

Just a natural process based on you serving them, and them discovering your offer.

It builds a desire in them to buy from you and gives them a chance to see if you’re the right brand for them.

Not all sales funnels are the same

There is no such thing as a sales funnel model you need to follow. There are a few basic ones we tend to build our funnels upon, but each one could really be so much different.

See, you can take someone from a Pinterest pin to a blog post, then your email list, webinar and sell them your course or service.

Or you can simply show an ad on Instagram and take people right to checkout.

Another great way is to take people from the quiz to personalised results, nurture them and sell to them later.

But with so many different possibilities and technical solutions, you need to understand the psychology behind it to be able to design one that’s perfect for you.

Most people that come to your website or see your brand on social media are NOT ready to buy from you (yet).

When you start selling too early it feels icky. It feels pushy. Well, it’s because it usually is.

It’s important to meet your potential clients/customers where they’re at and serve them.

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Selling is ALL about serving. It’s facilitating a change. It’s helping your clients and customers get what they need WHEN they are ready.

You do need to understand what it is that they need first, and help them become ready.

Otherwise, you will be simply trying to sell them what you offer and that’s not helpful.

It’s the very reason we don’t have packages on our website and we always hop on a Discovery Call with our prospective clients before we even tell them how we can help.

If we don’t talk to them first, don’t understand their unique businesses, situation, goals and challenges, how on earth can we create the perfect offer for them?

Selling them a fixed package before learning what their goals are and what do they actually need to get there would be a disservice, wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why today we’re going to dive deep into all the stages a person goes through from when they don’t know about you or don’t realise they have a problem, to the point they become your customer.

 

Selling psychology: 5 stages people go through before they are ready to buy

 

I don’t believe in tricking people into a sale.

Using psychology to help yourself with selling is great, but it’s really important we only sell to those who we can help reach their goals.

That’s why we gracefully decline some of the applications we get to work with us: we only work with those we know we can bring a ROI (Return of Investment) to and are in the niche we specialise in.

In our heads, it’s simply a fair thing to do.

You can’t sell successfully without this

Just like building a relationship in real life, selling takes some time and is a process. It can be done quickly if you’re skilled and know your customers well, but usually, it takes some time for people to advance to the next stages.

Don’t rush things if you don’t have to. Better focus on actually serving them at every step of the way and you’ll see how they will thank you for taking the process!

Yes, selling can be focused on serving and you can have people actually thanking you for selling to them (we’ve had this many times!).

What’s important to make these steps feel natural and really work is knowing your ideal buyer persona to the core.

You need to know:

  • their goals,
  • their desires,
  • what they think to themselves but are afraid to say,
  • their attitude towards your products or services,
  • their objections,
  • their surroundings and what they hear, see or know,
  • what they think they need vs. what they really need,
  • what have they done to fix their problem so far,
  • and so much more.

 

5 steps customers go through to become ready to buy from you

There are 5 steps and there’s a reason for it: those are all the psychological stages necessary for your customers to become ready to buy from you.

The order is really important and you can’t change it. It’s just how our brains work: we need to become aware to be interested and be interested to even consider the purchase.

To build an interest there needs to be a desire, and for desire, we need the awareness of the problem (or need).

 

Selling psychology: 5 stages people go through before they are ready to buy

 

1. Awareness

This is where people are becoming aware of your brand or the problem they have (or both).

They might have not heard about you before and now they saw your freebie, or your website or heard about you somewhere. It’s like when someone introduces you to someone else and this person is becoming aware of your existence.

Or like when someone tells you about their problem and you become aware you have it too.

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Or when you see a beautiful necklace on Pinterest and you become aware you need it in your life.

What would you do at this stage? Of course, introduce yourself, tell them a little about yourself and ask them about them. Make a good first impression, make them interested to know more.

  • talking directly to their problems
  • describing their problems
  • treating their problems as an interest hook
  • showing empathy: making them feel understood and heard
  • normalizing their feelings: “it’s OK you feel that way, you’re not alone”.
  • using content as a guide to the next stage
  • being careful not to overwhelm them with information about solutions yet: at this stage building connection is #1 priority

This stage is also about becoming aware of the problem they might have.

As you probably realise, we often know we struggle with something, but we don’t realise what the REAL cause of the struggle is.

This stage is all about speaking to your customers’ struggles and gently making them aware of the real cause of their struggle.

If you sell something that doesn’t really fix a problem but helps people go towards pleasure – like jewellery or fashion, you can build awareness by content like product edits, sharing OOTD or pinning on Pinterest.

You need to be seen and hook your audience in.

This way you help them get to the next stage…

2. Interest

Once you show your audience you SEE them and their struggle, hinted the real cause of their struggle, it’s time to reveal this real cause.

It’s not the time for selling just yet, but it’s a perfect time to show them you know them, their dreams, goals, struggles and challenges and you’ve got something that’s going to help them.

It’s a perfect time for your freebie: something that will give them value and show them what you’re all about.

  • talking about solutions to their problem (not about your products just yet)
  • helping them envision themselves having solved their problem and what life would be then
  • showing them how they can overcome their problem
  • offering a “bandage” solution / quick win: a freebie, a few tips, something that will help for a while and make them feel better

By showing them the REAL cause of their struggle and giving them a few tips you make them feel like it’s possible to overcome their challenges with your help.

For jewellery or fashion boutiques it’s possible to take people through this stage at the same time as the awareness stage. If someone sees your pin on Pinterest they become both aware of your brand (and your lovely products) and interested enough to click and go to the next stage.

 

 

3. Evaluation

Now, your audience wants to know how YOU can help them. What’s beyond your bandage solution, freebie, a few tips, a quick win.

They will be looking at your sales pages, checking what’s it like to work with you, what your products are like, reading the reviews and trying to figure out which one of your products or offers is the best for them.

It’s also a time they might be looking at your competition, who are offering similar thing.

It’s a great time to show them why you’re ideal for them, provide testimonials and social proof and basically put them at ease:

  • talking directly about your offers/products
  • showing all the benefits of your offer/products
  • helping them envision their life after they have purchased your solution and it worked
  • showing them why your solution is best for them
  • providing social proof, testimonials and addressing objections they may have
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Selling psychology: Customers will buy from brands who best addressed their inner state, their feelings and their objections, not those who have the best products or services

 

Customers will buy from brands who best addressed their inner state, their feelings and their objections, not those who have the best products or services.

We all assess things using our logical mind, but the decision making is done solely by our right hemisphere – our emotional brain.

People will gauge who’s products are best but in the end, they will go with a brand that made a connection with them somehow.

That’s why 1-2 stages are crucial and audience nurturing is so important.

4. Conversion

This is the time when you facilitate a sale. This could happen on your discovery call, or on your product and checkout pages.

Your prospects have evaluated your offer and now they need your help to get from an interested prospect to a customer.

They know they want it and need it, so your job is to make it as easy for them as possibly to buy from you:

  • offer a clear call to action: “buy now”, “sign up”, etc.
  • facilitate a sale: help them purchase, offer a clear and easy path to buying your offers or products
  • this is not the time to continue explaining your products
Don’t go “past the sale”. Once your prospective customer or client is at this stage, they WANT to buy. Don’t continue selling to them, get them through the sale as smoothly as possible. It is often that people abandon the sale because there were too many steps to take, or the buying process wasn’t easy enough. Don’t make that mistake!

5. (Loyal) Customer

Once they purchased from you, they become your customer. So treat them like royalty, because returning customers can bring much more revenue than new ones + it’s cheaper to sell to existing customers than acquire new ones.

It’s 60-70% easier to convert an existing customer than it is to sell to a new one!

  • Take care of your customers
  • offer them ways to buy from you again
  • Invite them over to “only members” content, support or products/services
  • have strategies to learn more about them and their needs

This is also a stage where you want to pamper your customers and make them stay loyal to your brand.

There are different strategies to do that, but some of our favourites are definitely following up with them once in a while, send them helpful or inspiring content, or contact them on their birthday, offering a nice discount on a product they have been looking at for a while.

Adding a nice “thank you” note to your orders is also a great idea. If you can personally sign it, it will be a nice, personal touch.

Following your customers on social media and actually engaging with their content or even re-sharing will also continue building the connection between them and you.

As with every relationship, if you want it to flourish, you need to water it regularly.


As you can see, taking people from awareness to loyal customers takes a few steps, but if done right, it can help you build a stronger relationship, like and trust factor and get a loyal customer who will come back for more and bring their friends over too.

It all starts with understanding your ideal buyer persona though. Only then can you serve them well and make them feel like you read their mind.

Branding is what binds it all together: it’s going to make people feel like your brand is perfect for them and making selling so much easier.

Tell me in the comments: are you taking people on this journey step by step?

2 COMMENTS

2 Comments

  1. Martina

    Hi Alex, thanks a lot for this article. It’s exactly I’ve been looking for in my current phase of setting up a business. In certain aspects it’s very similar to what they say in an app Love While Parenting (validate their feelings etc). Will definitely use it soon. Love, Martina

    Reply
    • Alex

      I’m super happy you found it useful, Martina! Let me know how it goes.

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