5 Rings of Buying Insight: Unmask the buying decision process

5 Rings of Buying Insight: Unmask the buying decision process

Helena, 43 years old, married, Mercedes driver etc. – most companies and their marketing departments work with purely hypothetical collections of demographic data and expect valuable insights from them. In fact, however, information such as age, gender or relationship status only has limited significance.

For B2C customers, fictitious persona profiles may be a good way to think about customer needs and worlds. In her article, Vanessa explains what personas are and how you can get from a simple persona profile to a concrete buyer persona. B2B customers, on the other hand, are a bit more complex in their industries and purchasing decisions. Companies should make better use of their often scarce resources in the future. I will now tell you how these are methodically unmasked.

Buyer personas surveys by Adele Revella

How to get valuable content? The buyer persona survey provides answers.

After devouring Revella’s literature, I’m sure: enough speculation, just ask! Companies that no longer want to be in the dark about their customer needs should ask themselves: (What) is this project worth to me? Because yes, such a survey is a project – from the selection of the interview partners to the appointment arrangement and interviews to the evaluation table and finished personae. Depending on the scope of the interviews and the interview partners, such an undertaking can take at least three months. (If you want to learn more from planning to implementation, please leave me a comment and I’ll just plan my next blog post about it)

Back to Revella: In her book “Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight Into Your Customer’s Expectations”, the marketing expert and founder of the “Buyer Persona Institute” in Chicago advises open discussions with relevant marketing stakeholders in the industry in order to gain real insights of your own. Central to Revella’s approach are the so-called “5 Rings of Buying Insight” – five rings that provide information about the purchasing decision or decision-making process of existing and potential customers.

  1. Priority Initiative: Investment Triggers
  2. Success Factors: Success Factors
  3. Perceived Barriers: Perceived barriers
  4. Buyer’s Journey: path of the purchase decision including decision-making influences
  5. Decision Criteria: Decision criteria

5 Rings of Buying Insight: Unmasking the Buying Decision Process

The aim of the twenty-minute discussions with relevant marketing decision-makers is to unmask as many rings as possible that are relevant to them. In this way, possible stumbling blocks and obstacles within your own customer journey become visible. Examples of this could be the website design, which is perceived as “old-fashioned”, too little look behind the company scenes, too expensive prices, unconvincing content and much more.

The 5 Rings of Buying Insight for a better Buyer Persona by Adele Revella.

This knowledge gained brings a decisive advantage over competitors: Anyone who knows where the shoe pinches has a knowledge advantage and can – exactly where there is a problem – start in a targeted manner in order to optimize or adapt. Successfully implemented, the newly gained insights increase sales or upselling activities, serve to maintain existing customers or attract new customers.

To unmask the buying decision process, you first need to ask a lot of questions. It helps to look at the five rings in detail:

Ring 1 – Priority Initiative (investment trigger)

It is very likely that a change or realization in the decision-maker’s environment will trigger the search for a solution. In the first ring, at best, you will find the answer to: What makes the customer look for a certain type of product or service? What triggers the need for a solution in potential customers?

  • The investment trigger or trigger moment is the main reason why the person decides to invest in a new solution that is similar to your offering.
  • This insight describes in detail the personal or organizational background for the investment (in time, budget or political capital).
  • Marketeers also use these insights to define and defend their strategies and to create positive touchpoints with potential customers who are still in the early stages of their decision-making process.

Ring 2 – Success Factors

The second ring unmasks the answer to the question: From the customer’s point of view, what positive event occurs when the purchase is completed?

  • The success factors describe the operational and personal results that the customer expects from purchasing the product or solution.
  • Success factors are similar to benefits and aim at a “does-that-change-what?” question.
    An example: Your service solution guarantees a reduction in costs. However, the survey showed that potential buyers prefer to minimize the risks for their business. His/her motivation is sometimes to keep an eye on the control of specific details. Armed with this knowledge, you can communicate your solution more relevantly by addressing potential risks and explaining how it creates opportunities for control.

Ring 3 – Perceived Barriers

Just because a customer became aware of a problem does not automatically mean that he immediately decides on a suitable solution. Ask yourself: Which attitudes or facts keep the decision maker from buying? The third ring should therefore provide the answer to the question of what factors are preventing the purchase of a specific product or service.

  • Perceived barriers or crunch points are often “bad news” as they reveal what kept potential customers from making a purchase.
  • Negative impressions or experiences with specific providers or products can come to light here – regardless of whether they are correct or not.
  • Missing product features also fall into this category: Why some customers think your competitors have better products or solutions up their sleeves. Try to elicit a justification from customers who have decided on a competitor.
  • Internal resistance from another decision-maker or a re-prioritization of the projects can be such crunch points or barriers.
  • If you know where the perceived or real barriers are and what is behind them in detail, then you also know what to do to disenchant them: Convince the buyer of your product advantages from ring 1 and 2.

Ring 4 – Buyer’s Journey (path of the purchase decision)

The insight into this ring should make the actual decision-making process transparent. How did the decision-maker proceed to evaluate different possible solutions or options: Did he start the search engine or would he rather follow peer recommendations? You will see that trust plays a central role here. How many solutions did the research result in?

  • This knowledge reveals the behind-the-scenes story behind the search for a solution: What work does the potential buyer do to evaluate solutions, extinguish possible disruptions and make their final decision internally to search for a solution?
  • #Influencer – This insight makes visible which contacts influence the potential customer in the process and what the approach is from the beginning to the final decision.
    An interesting question is: Who had how much decision-making power in which phase?
  • Use the buyer journey and focus your sales and marketing activities on the most important phases of the decision. Emphasize the resources of your solution in the right place in order to pick up the most important decision-makers in the best possible way in their “pain” along their way and simply “take them with them”.

Ring 5 – Decision Criteria

When decision-makers compare different providers, they do so on the basis of product characteristics. It is therefore a matter of personal or company-specific evaluation criteria that are used. Questions that lead to this insight are: “And how were candidates excluded in order to finally make the final choice? What evaluation criteria do they use to evaluate and compare vendor solutions?”

  • This knowledge allows a precise look at the criteria that ultimately lead to the purchase decision. What are the relevant attributes of the product, service, or solution that the potential buyer is considering?
  • You may find that your newest or most distinctive features have the least impact on the solution.
  • Marketers are often surprised when customers tell them that their benefit-oriented marketing materials are not well received. Tip: Fact-based information sometimes creates more trust than laudatory promises.

Better personae thanks to Buying Insight

You see: When it comes to mapping decision-making processes, demographic data only plays a minor role. Don’t spend too much time on it and ask yourself the “does-that-change-what?” question. But even more important: Be careful with yourself. If you are formulating a persona profile and wondering whether this or that piece of information makes sense, leave it out. My motto is: When in doubt, for the doubt.

Of greater importance are the five rings of buying insights. They deliver real insights. What’s the point of knowing which brand the potential customer prefers if you don’t know why? see!

Do you have any questions about the data collection project for “real” buyer personae? Then feel free to contact me, or – if your question offers added value for other readers – please leave me a comment.

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