Whether buying a song in the iTunes Store or jet airplanes, every customer and prospect goes through the same buying cycle. It may take the customer a split second to click "Buy" or more than a year in meetings involving dozens of people and a complex decision process.
The buying cycle provides the basis for:
- A common language for actions with customers and prospects
- Cross-functional integration and work
- A continuum of consistent accountability
- A bias for results-oriented action
To the traditional buying cycle we add repurchase, or repeat behavior,
in order to move from a focus on transactions to a focus on customer relationships. We do this for one important reason: relationships are not usually defined by a single transaction. In fact, because customer acquisition is such an expensive proposition, the real return on the acquisition investment comes in the sum of the 2nd, 3rd and later transactions. With repurchase as an integral part of the buying cycle we ensure that no single transaction is complete without consideration of and strategies for generating the next transaction.
In today’s technology-enabled, information-driven world customers and prospects are increasingly taking control of the buying cycle. Brand interactions happen without our knowledge and reactions are tempered by what friends post in social media. These facts make the need for a common, consistent focus on the buying cycle even more urgent.
Acceptance of the truth of the new, hard-to-control buying cycle as immutable is perhaps the most important first step any customer-facing organization can take to achieve greater effectiveness and impact.