The buyer journey – why sales are like whales

Magnify Consulting - sales are like whales, people surface when they're ready

Whatever industry you’re selling in, there will be times when your buyer simply drops out of sight.  In fact, they can sometimes disappear for so long that you might think they’ve vanished altogether.  And then, just when you least expect it, up they pop ready to continue the sales conversation.

Did you see that coming?  Were you ready for them?  Or did they surface with the intention to reach a decision and choose one of your competitors?

What whales can teach us about modern buyers

To understand modern buyers, let’s look at the whale.

Whales are social creatures, hanging out in social groups called pods.  Travelling, hunting, migrating, childminding – you name it, they like to work as a group.  With a blowhole on top of their head to breathe, whales can stay underwater without taking a breath for as long as two hours.  Whaling was once a thriving industry full of strong men and determined harpoons piercing unsuspecting creatures who just came up for a bit of air.  Commercial whaling has been internationally banned since 1986.

Sales are like whales – people surface when they’re ready.

Are you hunting for new business like a 19th century whaler?

Sales can be tough.  Your manager probably expects you to reach certain targets and KPIs, but your customers don’t want to feel hunted and tracked down, caught like a deer in your sales target headlights.  Buyers still want to make purchasing decisions, but they’re looking for something more – a relationship with a trusted business advisor.

Think for a moment about the way you do business. Are you frightening customers by the suddenness of your approach and lack of trusted relationship before you suddenly try to close?  Or are you focusing on opening doors and helping your customers navigate their own personalised buyer journey to a decision that works for them and their business?

A new and better way to do business development

There’s a new way to do business development, combining traditional sales approaches (think telephone, proactive contact, in-person meetings), blended with new digital selling (LinkedIn, Facebook ads, lead magnets, landing pages and video) and then turbo charged with  Artificial Intelligence (think CRM alerts, data analysis, customer insights).  Get this right and you’ll be almost unstoppable.

The old barriers to success for you and SME are gone forever.  Businesses of all sizes have equal access to CRM systems and AI to power better sales and marketing decisions.

Your customers are social like the mighty whale but they’re a little shy too.  They want to have a bit of space to check you out online, to do their own research and consume some more of your interesting and relevant content to help them reach the right decision.

If your sales are fully enabled by just some of the available sales and marketing tools, you don’t need to wait anxiously for the customer to surface.  Digital marketing and social selling will help to push you ahead of the pack.  Your competitors could be scrambling, giving up, distracted, unprepared.  But not you.  You’re ready and waiting,  knowing almost exactly where your customer will surface and when.

No time-wasting for you.  Powered by sales data,  you send through a targeted LinkedIn message, send an email or text, or make that call.  While the competition is still frantically racing around in a murky ocean looking for that elusive customer,  you’re sitting with them at a corner table in their favourite cafe, deeply engaged in a sales conversation.

To help power your sales in 2020, here are 5 positive sales actions to take when your customer disappears:

One – Maintain a positive sales mindset

When whales go under the water for a while, the whalers don’t think that it’s all over.  They’re poised, scanning the horizon for clues to see where that whale has gone.  When they finally sighted a whale coming up for air and breathing through their blowhole, the lookout on whaling ships would cry out ‘Thar she blows!’.

Just like the whale, your customer will eventually come up for air.  That’s the moment when your website alerts you that a customer just landed on your homepage for the third time today.  That person is either very bored, or else getting closer to making a purchasing decision.

Two – Give the customer something to do each time they disappear

What content are you posting on Linked in, Facebook or other social media channels? What conferences or events are they likely to be at?  Can you get yourself there and maximise the opportunities to bump into them? Do you post regular blogs which are respected by your industry? Who do you know that they also know?  Is it time  to message someone who could put in a good word for you?

Three – Know what your customer is looking for

Have they signed up for some specific info on your website that gives you a clue as to what they need to progress on go their next step? Is your email newsletter and/or your CRM recording what they’ve clicked on and how often?  When you know what they need, you can simply email them a link to another helpful article or case study on your website, in line with their topic of interest.  Then take note how they interact with this latest piece of information.

Four – Be ready to respond

Don’t be caught out by the speed at which your customer surfaces, ready to ‘move from initial contact to evaluation and purchase. Researching online means they may be ready to receive proposals very quickly.‘ or even to make a purchase.  Just like the massive real-life sperm whale which rammed a whaling ship in 1820 (and inspired the novel ‘Moby Dick’), your customer could surface at any moment.  While underwater, whales are often hunting – just like your customers who have disappeared to do more research, interacting with your brand and your competitors’ brands plus any other relevant industry information they can find online to reach their best buying decision.

Are you ready to answer complex questions?  Remember that complex questions are a positive sign that your customer is very close to reaching a purchasing decision.  Is your documentation cloud-based and ready to go?  How’s your on-boarding process?  Are you ready to deliver a smooth, confidence-building experience to your new customer?  Being ready to land your big fish could make a huge difference to the length of your new customer relationship.

Five – Keep building your customer relationships

When you follow up,  make sure you’re seeing  the customer as a person first and as a prospect second.

Did you find out

  • what your customer likes doing at the weekend?
  • what they’re concerned about in their industry?
  • what other thoughts keep them up at night?
Be personable and to the point, as well as showing some humanity.  The savvy customer knows you can’t always trust everything you read online.  Authenticity wins hands down.


Finally – think carefully about every aspect of the buyer journey for your customers

What are your brand’s touchpoints, where the customers are in contact with your brand, from start to finish of their buyer journey?  Get these touchpoints working well, all communicating the same sales messages, for a unified team front.  Check everything thoroughly to find any hidden opportunities.  The big change you need to see in 2020 may turn out to be a subtle tweak that yields surprisingly good results.

Need to check your sales processes support your buyer journey?

Book some time in our calendar.

Let’s talk about a strategic approach to growing sales for your business.