One of the key things to avoid doing in business is wasting your time. Like the time you waste when you chase customers who are not ready to buy.
Not only will this lead to disappointment and frustration, it is a waste of time, energy and money that could have been better spent on other ways to benefit your business.
The most successful businesses dedicate their time, energy and efforts to potential customers who are ready to buy.
They identify their Most Profitable Customers to have a clear understanding of what kind of customer to focus on.
Do you want to know who Your Most Profitable Customers are?
Their next step – if they do not yet know – is to better understand WHY this type of customer is buying from them instead of going to competitors.
Using this information, they then laser-target their marketing to attract more of this type of customer.
But once a potential customer shows interest, how do you determine if, in fact, they are ready to buy?
If you are in retail, spending time talking to customers who are not yet ready to buy may not be a big problem. But if you sell more customised products, or you are in B2B, wasting time is the last thing you want to do.
You want potential customers who need your help, want your help, and who want to work with you to get a solution to their problem.
If the people you are talking do don’t have a problem that needs to be solved, you will not get the sale.
Likewise, if they are not the person making the buying decision, you will not get the sale. Or, if they want a solution and are the person making the buying decision, but they have no money, you will not get the sale.
So, how to quickly distinguish the business prospects from the “Oh, I’m just looking” customers?
You ask the right questions.
Ask these questions to find out if customers are ready to buy
1. What is the main problem they are facing?
For a business, this could be getting funding to grow the business. Or, finding ways to generate additional sales that will lead to higher profits.
For a mother doing her shopping at the market, it might be how to put together daily nutritious meals for her family without exceeding a certain monthly budget.
The follow-up questions that you can ask are:
- How do you want to solve this problem?
- What actions have you taken to deal with this issue?
If the customer is truly feeling “pain”, they will want to solve the problem. That means that they will have taken action. Or, they will be looking for somebody to help them take action.
If not, they are not ready to buy.
2. What are your main complaints?
For a business, it might be that they are facing issues with customer service. Their customer support may not be good, leading to many complaints from customers. Or, employees may be dissatisfied with certain things at work, causing productivity to drop.
For a private customer, the complaints may have to do with the quality of the product or service that they are buying. It may also have to do with the bad customer service that they are experiencing at your competitor’s business.
Customers that are frustrated will end up spreading negative news about the business. This can damage business reputation and lead to lost sales.
No complaints = not ready to buy.
3. Who else needs to be involved to solve this problem?
If you are dealing with business customers, it may be that all final decisions are taken by the boss. This question tells you whether the person you are talking to is authorised to make the buying decision. It also tells you whether the person you are talking to understands the issues in the business. If the person is in a lower-level position at the business or does not know the issues that affect the business, you need to find somebody else to talk to.
For private customers, this is about whether you are talking to the person making the buying decision. If you are talking to a teenager who needs to get money from his/her parents, you need to focus your attention on understanding whether the parents want to see these issues resolved and how.
Somebody who is not authorised to make the buying decision = not ready to buy.
4. What problems keep coming back again and again?
In business, these are likely to be the problems that keep being discussed during meetings. Or, problems that are important, but do not get solved because the business does not know how to solve them.
Using the mother from the example above, her recurring problem might be how to manage the monthly budget that she has for food.
In both cases, the customers will acknowledge the problem and be willing to spent time, effort and money to solve it.
No recurring problems that need to be solved = not ready to buy.
Customers who are ready to buy
Customers who are ready to buy are customers that are truly “feeling pain”. The pain is caused by problems that customers face. And the pain is at the level that it is causing problems and requires a solution.
- In business, true business pain points are the kind of problems that are considered high-priority. They are discussed at the business owner or CEO level. Most importantly, the business had budget available to solve these problems!
- For private customers, their pain is the kind of problem that they are willing to spend time, effort and money on.
True customer pain is a problem that must be solved in order for the business – or private customer – to successfully achieve their objective. If that is the case, the customer will be ready to buy.