Anatomy of a customer decision

Sigmund Freud Adam Smith

Main customer decision parameters are:

1) Decision or not?
Not all interactions require a decision. Advertising, spamming, and other outbound methods usually do not require a decision from a customer. If there is a decision then it is mostly to passively accept its presence. However, inbound marketing and value content require a positive decision which is a form of trust leading to a purchase.

2) Purchase or not?
Not all customer decisions are purchase decision. Many times, a non-purchase decision happens during an interaction much earlier in the relationship and is more important than the purchase decision. For example, decision to talk to a sales person, participate in an event, or even take a free gift are all important and represent a decision to trust the company.

3) New or automated?
Many decisions are established and have became a routine. Few decisions are in conflict with routines and require much more effort. Eventually these new decisions become a routine as well. If a new decision is required from a customer, much more content is required to break the previously established customer routines. Companies that depend greatly on routines should also create new routines themselves (innovation and creation unique values) so they can remain competitive.

4) Fast or slow?
Some decisions are made quickly, and some take a long time. Buying a candy bar while walking down the street is an impulsive quick decision. Buying a car requires a lot of research. Some B2B purchases are also quick and some take months. The longer the decision is, the more hard values and hard information it requires because customer is calculating.

5) Single or more decision makers?
Sometimes purchase decisions are made by one customer and sometimes by many customers who must all agree. A child can not buy candy on their own, but her parents must approve. A B2B purchase almost always involves a group decision which can be very complex. Purchases of family cars and houses are parent decisions.

6) Soft or hard?
If the decision is made based by accepting soft values this means that the customer did not calculate the decision. If the decision is made by accepting hard values then customer calculated the decision by analyzing the alternatives, own resources, and long term benefits. Soft values can be part of early relationship decisions, while hard values are usually necessary to close the sale. Most competitive method is to offer both soft and hard values. Most important value is the price, which is hard.

There are many additional parameters which can play a role in a decision, but the main conclusion is that it is never a single interaction, decision, and value that lead to a sale. Relationship with a customer is complex and depends on many interactions and decisions.

PS Eventually AI will automate the sales process using rules similar to above. It is only a question when.