How do you define a complex sale? Is it a B2B purchase? Is it planning a family vacation for two adults and three kids ranging in age from four to 12? Can it be purchasing new pillows for your bed? How about when deciding on an enterprise testing and targeting solution? As marketers, we use the term frequently, but as I often find, people sort of know what it is when they see it, but don't really define it well.
You'll often hear it described as selling into an enterprise where multiple decision-makers are involved. Or maybe it is complex when it has a really high price tag. Maybe you can define it by what it is not - it isn't an impulse purchase. However we define it, and we will in a moment, it is integral to understanding what it will take to plan the content strategy and persuasive content necessary on your website to move people along your sales funnel as they proceed through their complex buying process.
Whatever you market or sell, certain factors pertain to the buying decisions your audience has to make. These factors are critical to shaping your persuasive process, and are the most important reasons why you have to map your audience's buying processes to your selling process. I'll address this in a future column.
These are the factors that will determine the intricacy of your digital ecosystem's persuasive process and that define a complex sale:
These factors apply differently depending on the nature of your business. For example, computers aren't a terribly high-risk product anymore, but lots of people still find them unfathomable beasts, and they'll take their time acquiring information before deciding to buy one. Unless the one and only computer upon which their sole-proprietor business depends just got zapped by lightning and must be replaced by noon tomorrow.
By the same token, you might take a while to consider the purchase of a water heater if you are building a new house, but if your existing water heater goes up the spout, you need to replace it pronto. Almost no one would say a pencil is a considered purchase - knowledge of pencils isn't much of a problem and there's generally no risk associated - but if the purchase of a case of pencils or a single pencil from a new vendor requires several departments to sign off, consensus is an issue.
These factors can also be interdependent. Take knowledge: the more you know about something, the more you may perceive the risks involved. Conversely, more knowledge may afford you the perception of less risk. The individual facing heart surgery will consider the relationship between knowledge and risk differently than will the heart surgeon. As will the individual investor staking his life earnings on options, compared to the options trader for whom these transactions are daily occurrences.
You'll notice these dimensions focus the topology of your sale on your customers' perceptions and experiences, not the role your business occupies in relation to your customers. And that's exactly how we feel any discussion of sales topology in the context of designing persuasive systems should be framed. Next time, I will share how we can map out these four factors on a scale to help you get a better sense of what your personas' buying needs will look like.
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As 2013 comes to a close, we're pleased to share our top analytics columns of the year. This article was originally published August 9, 2013.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
March 19, 2014