The sales cycle is a classic framework that has been around for a long time. You can find versions that are more complicated than this, but I like this one.
For me, this is the simplest way of breaking down how a person goes about choosing and using a product or service. The cycle may happen fast (when you’re buying a candy bar) or the cycle may happen slow (when you’re buying a car) but it generally happens in this order, over and over again. This framework, however, often ignores a critical characteristic at the heart of the entire cycle. It’s sharing.
Now, if you listen to the Social Media Gurus™, you’d think they had discovered a new law of nature recently – that people share information during each stage of the sales cycle. Some pundits have gone so far as to say that this sharing phenomenon has destroyed the sales cycle. But the fact is, humans sharing information about their needs and their purchases isn’t a new phenomenon. People have always shared information with other people:
- “Do you know a good butcher?”
- “How do you like your Cadillac?”
- “‘Do you want Levis or Wranglers?”
- “How do I get this VCR to record a show?”
I imagine that even during the Mesopotamian era of branding, folks were asking questions and sharing information about the local olive oil producer, neighborhood wine maker or weaver. Those conversations happened on the sidewalk, over kitchen tables and backyard fences. That’s not new. What is new is the fact that now marketers can participate in the conversations as they’re increasingly happening on-line for the world to see and search, real time and permanently. So although the manifestations of a natural human characteristic (the desire to share with others) may be changing, our inherent nature isn’t. For me, that’s one of the key truths about looking at various ‘eras’ of branding…the tactics may change, but many of the central principles remain the same. And all the chatter about the new ways in which brands have to behave are true to a certain extent. But that chatter misses the fact that it isn’t ‘sharing’ that’s new – it’s how we’re able to do it these days.
What are the ways you’re seeing this ‘new’ center of the sales cycle making itself manifest?