The 5 phases of a sale and how to leverage them

Selling is more than product + photo + copy + promotion = sale. I have stepped out the sales process to help you see the opportunities present at each phase. Coming up with new presentations, promotions and ideas is easier when you break it down. With the holiday season gearing up, (you e-commerce folks still have some time) this is a great place to start the creative and marketing juices flowing.

You have to get their attention whether it is through disruption (catalog, email, ad or social) or choice (they ran out of what you sell, have a problem they need to solve, got a recommendation from a friend, want to shop etc). If their interest is piqued by a specific product and it is exclusive you are 80% there. The sale is yours to lose. If their interest is more general you have to engage them so they don’t wander off.

If they are engaged they are reading, clicking, scrolling, talking, or watching. This is where editorial, great design, and salesmanship pay off big. Customers need to find enough benefits to their lives in engaging with your company and products that they move to consideration. Editorial, gamification, content, videos, social, beautiful photography , discounts and relevance all work to create engagement. Engagement can create interest so it isn’t always the second phase of the buying decision, it can be where the purchasing decision starts. Returning customers often start here.

This is the phase where brand, price, offers and benefits are weighed. “Is it from a brand I trust?” “Will it fit my lifestyle?” There are multiple factors that come into play. If you have created personas it is easier to uncover what factors are most important to customers and which won’t really move the sale forward. Exclusive products have a big head start in this phase, if customers can’t buy it anywhere else, then price and competitors are not factors in the buying decision.

This is the moment when a person goes from “should I buy this?” to “I will buy this”. At this point it is all about ease of purchasing. Anything in their way could move them back to consideration or confusion. Make sure the purchase path is clean. Up-sells and cross-sells are a great way to increase average order value but don’t let them get in the way of the actual sale.

Commitment to your company comes after the product has been used and enjoyed. Companies with great products and outstanding customer service achieve long lasting commitment that makes it easier for them to grow. The lifetime value of a non-committed customer may be one sale. The lifetime value of a committed customer is multiple sales and recommendations. This is where thank you notes and best customer offers can be really effective.

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All the best,
Sarah Fletcher
President/Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc.
Co-Founder Catalog University