We’re all familiar with the concept of the sales funnel, the metaphorical structure that represents the research, nurturing-receptive and purchasing stages of a consumer’s buying journey. Those phases are all organized neatly into top, middle, and bottom layers—no more, no less—by marketing experts, right? Not necessarily.
There’s another element of the sales funnel that often gets overlooked in favor of moving swiftly onto nurturing your next business lead.
The Missing Link in Your Sales Model
A consumer’s buying journey doesn’t necessarily stop once they’ve made a purchase; there is also post-purchase behavior to consider.
Also known as post-purchase dissonance or Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome, the fourth stage of the sales funnel represents the state of unease that some consumers may feel after making a purchase. You must have bought something that, once you got it home, you thought was actually just a bit too expensive, flimsy, or not quite as technologically advanced or trendy.
That stage can be a normal part of making a purchase, especially in a world where there’s so much offered that we can become paralyzed by the amount of choices we face, so we end up making buying decisions based on snap emotions rather than calm rationale. The rationalization sets in later, leaving consumers stewing in guilt, regret, and sometimes even anger, which in turn results in them tossing your product or service to one side, lodging a complaint with the company they bought it from, or relying on the competition for their next purchase. In a lot of cases, the remorse results in all three.
Neglect or Just a Misunderstanding?
When I log onto my computer in the morning and catch up on the latest industry blog posts, I find that post-purchase dissonance doesn’t really crop up, with marketers implying that lead nurturing ends once a purchase has been made. What they perhaps don’t realize is that lead nurturing needs to occur before, during and after someone has converted, lending them valuable support that not only reassures them they made the right buying decision, but builds a strong link of trust between client and company.
“But how can I nurture someone that’s already bought something from me?” you say. “Send them ebooks and information about new products?”
Here’s another misconception—lead nurturing isn’t about sending out huge quantities of content, it’s about quality content that encompasses some simple, good old-fashioned customer service as well, a few key elements of which are outlined in this great post by Allen Weiss. Consumers need to be told outright and from the start what your product does and how it does it and, that at the end of the day, you can actually prove that it does it. Neglecting these simple necessities is far more likely to result in post-purchase dissonance once that payment has slipped comfortably into your bank account.
Additionally, you should be providing and promoting some kind of after-care. Dependent on your industry this can take the form of anything; a consultation to see how things are going and where, if necessary, improvements can be made, a request for some feedback on your service, additional product information about exclusive upgrades and relevant add-ons or, say, a “First clean free” offer for a client’s new solar panels.
Support like this shows consumers that you don’t just care about your business, you care about them and how they feel about their purchase, no matter how little or large the amount of money they spent.
Go Forth and Nurture Clients
Being honest with your site visitors, leads, and clients from the start creates an immense sense of trust. Making them feel really positive about your brand before they buy, during their purchase, and, perhaps most importantly, after their purchase will see them reward you with brand loyalty.
Marketing today is all about conveying passion, loyalty, and realism to prospects, meaning companies that hold their customers at arm’s length and maintain an old-fashioned stiff upper lip will quickly be left in the dust.