Let Buying Behavior Drive How You Sell

I just ran across a new book: “Stopwatch Marketing” by John Rosen and AnnaMaria Turano. The subtitle of the book is what caught my eye: “Take Charge Of The Time When Your Customer Decides To Buy.”

The customer’s “stopwatch” is based on two dimensions: perceived risk and time. The authors use these two dimensions to define four shopping behaviors: impatient, recreational, reluctant, and painstaking. The authors use this model to explain the following success stories:

  • Goodyear turned Assurance with TripleTred tires into a billion-dollar success story built on a shopping cycle that takes less than an hour.
  • Roto-Rooter became the only legitimate brand in its category by controlling the typical Yellow Pages users’ 50-second search pattern.
  • Whole Foods reinvented the supermarket shopping experience to slow down their customers’ clocks.
  • Microsoft exploits shoppers’ reluctance to spend time researching alternatives to their Office software.
  • Lexus begins targeting customers up to a year before they set foot inside a dealer showroom.

My take: I like any model (including this one) that gets companies to think in a more granular way about customers. The more you can understand about why customers are interacting with you and what they want from the experience, the more successful you’ll be in satisfying their needs.

As I was thinking about the “Stopwatch,” I remembered a report that I wrote in 2006 called “Tune Sites For Visitors’ Knowledge And Commitment Levels.” Although the research focused on Website design, it can be applied to any type of customer interaction. The report stated that companies need to, at a minimum, understand their customers’:

  • Subject matter knowledge. Customers can only consume information that they understand. Think about a customer trying to open a new investment account. Detailed descriptions about account options that satisfy an experienced, active investor might not meet the needs of a novice investor who doesn’t even know what “margin” means.
  • Commitment to the process. While some customers are willing to spend hours trying to complete a goal, others may only be willing to spend a couple of minutes. That’s why a multistep needs analysis tool may appeal to some credit card shoppers, while it overwhelms others.

I used those two dimensions to identify 4 customer archetypes: Wanderers, students, surgeons, and aficionados.

Four Customer Buying Archetypes

What do you do after identifying your customer archetypes? Ideally, your primary customers fall into a subset of the archetypes. If so, try to accomplish some common goals as if you were that type of person. If you can’t prioritize archetypes, then try to accomplish the goals for each of them: Wanderer, Student, Surgeon, and Aficionado. You’ll likely find that the quality of experience differs for each one.

The bottom line: The best experiences cater to the needs of your customers.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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