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Specifically for small businesses interested in CRM and prospect management

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Kai Prime

How to Identify Where Prospects Are in the Buying Cycle

In This Article

– Introduction: What is the Buying Cycle?

– The Stages of the Buying Cycle

– Leads

– What Prospects Are Doing

– What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

– Prospects

– What Prospects Are Doing

– What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

– Nurture

– What Prospects Are Doing

– What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

– Target

– What Prospects Are Doing

– What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

– Close

– What Prospects Are Doing

– What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

– Customer

– Identifying Where Your Prospects Are in the Buying Cycle with popcorn

– How to Identify Where Prospects Are in the Buying Cycle: Conclusion

Introduction: What is the Buying Cycle?

Prospects have a whole journey they undertake before they become a customer by purchasing from you, which they repeat every time they buy from a business. This is also known as the prospect buying cycle. 

It is broken down by the prospect’s evolving intentions and behaviours. In this article, we’ll explain each step, so you can identify where a prospect is in the buying cycle. With this information, you’ll be able to bring your best selling to the table, ensuring your customer acquisition rate keeps improving.

aerial photo of vehicles driving on a roundabout for buying cycle article
Firdouss Ross on Unsplash

The Stages of the Buying Cycle


What Prospects Are Doing

Prospects are at the very start of their journey, having just defined a pain and are now searching for a solution.

67% of the prospect’s purchasing decision will happen before they even contact a salesperson—and this is the stage where it happens. They’ll be going through companies’ socials, blogs, and product descriptions. This is so they avoid ‘buyer’s remorse’: making a purchase only to realise it’s not the right fit for them after all.

What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

For this stage, you want prospects to be aware of you, even if you’re not actually searching them out. This is called inbound marketing; they should come to you (Source: They Ask, You Answer).

Keep an eye on who’s engaging with your content; they may become a serious prospect in the future.

You should have a system for storing your information, such as popcorn, so you’re ready to collect your data about them when the time comes.


What Prospects Are Doing

After doing their research, your prospect will start the process of narrowing down possible candidates. This doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy; they’re just being more selective. They’ll engage more with what you put out there, but they’ll also engage more with your competitors.

They’ll show you that you made the long list by:

– Following your Calls to Action (CTAs)

– Answering sales calls for the first time

– Being more selective about what they’re reading from you

What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

These actions will be telling you more about what their pains are; and, ultimately, what they need from you. Make sure you keep this information to hand, specifically in a CRM that will be able to keep this data and help you build up the bigger picture of their behaviour. You can do this by:

– Setting up sales pipelines to fit your prospect into the right groups

– Add tags to their contact information about what they’re doing and where they are in the buying cycle

– Monitor their engagement across email, website and social


What Prospects Are Doing

In the ‘Prospects’ stage, they put you on the long list. Now, your prospects have put you on the shortlist.

They’ll be continuing to engage with your content, but also they’ll be getting a feel of who you are as a company. Does your company culture fit the ideal they have for solving their problem? Remember, they’re trying to avoid buyer’s remorse as much as possible; they want to be reassured that you are the right fit for solving their problem.

What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

This is time for your marketing to shine. Because they’ve been interacting with you consistently, you can now build up a more in-depth picture of who that prospect is by monitoring their behaviours. Then, with this in mind, you should:

– Select, tag and organise your prospect into your campaigns based on their behaviour

– Monitor their engagement with you

– Qualify them as a cool, warm or hot prospect


What Prospects Are Doing

Because your prospect is in the final stages of making their decision, they want to hear from companies, and they want them to help them come to a conclusion. It’s the final stretch, so they want you to make it count.

They’ll be making this happen by:

– Requiring specific, time-relevant information from you

– Getting to know your business on a more personal level

– Phoning/being phoned multiple times

What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

For this stage, you need to be as present as possible, and personalise your marketing as much as possible. The prospect wants you to persuade them to buy from you; you need to deliver this to their satisfaction, or they’ll move to buying from a competitor. Keep doing what you’ve been doing in the Nurture stage:

– Monitor their communications

– Make follow ups

– Note down the important information from your communication

– Personalise your content

– Adjust where they sit in your sales pipeline, and be prepared to move them again


What Prospects Are Doing

Your prospects are thinking of choosing you—congratulations! Now you’ve got to prove to them that it’ll be worth it.

This is something you’ll need to convince them of on a few points: firstly, on the matter of your competitors. Why are you uniquely placed to solve their pain in a way that your competitors aren’t? Is there enough of a distinction between you and your competitors for the prospect? And secondly, though on what may be a related note: is your custom value for money?

What it comes down to is this: are you going to make their time worth it? If the answer’s yes, they’ll choose you.

What You Need to Be Doing as a Business

You’re a step away from crossing the finish line and winning—don’t stumble now. You need to end your customer acquisition efforts with a flourish, not a whimper. Your communication with the prospect is now absolutely vital. Draw on the power of the information you’ve collected in your CRM thus far, so you can personalise your angle for them in particular. Make the sales calls to close the sale; finish your customer acquisition campaigns; hint at your customer service and customer retention marketing. Most of all, what you say needs to convince them that their decision is the right one. As soon as you do, you’ve got the sale.


Congratulations on making the sale! But your work isn’t over yet. Your existing customers are a huge asset to your business, and if you make them into advocates, they will pay you back in kind for your hard work. But this is only the case if you give them reason to stay.

You can keep your existing customers by investing more time in your customer retention efforts, such as:

– Offering loyalty programmes, offers and discounts

– Asking for feedback

– Offering great customer service

You can find out more about customer retention by reading our article here.

low angle photo of orange and pink balloons with printed with smiley and angry faces for buying cycle article
Madison Oren on Unsplash

Identifying Where Prospects Are in the Buying Cycle with popcorn

Your ability to identify where you prospects are in the buying cycle is largely dependent on the tools you’re using to contact and monitor them, as well as storing their information. A CRM will do the trick, bringing all your data into one place so you can see the bigger picture of how your prospecting is going.

popcorn offers this in tandem with sales pipelines, so wherever your contacts are in the buying cycle, you’re aware of what you need to do next to progress them along your sales process. Plus, popcorn is directed by your prospects’ behaviours, so you can understand when your prospects are ready to buy and why.

Prospect Buying Cycle: Conclusion

How your prospects engage with you will tell you a lot about where their heads are in terms of buying a product/service and solving their pain. From the start, you have to be aware of what their intentions are, which means your inbound marketing, your communication, your personalisation and your monitoring should point you towards what stage of the buying cycle they’re in. By understanding your prospects in this way through a CRM, you’ll be able to match their intentions, nurturing them to the point of sale successfully—so you can see your sales take off.

How does popcorn’s prospect scoring tool work? You can find out how it can be applied to your prospects by clicking here.

Enjoyed this post? Comment below or read through our blog for more lead management and CRM tips, especially for small businesses.

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