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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

15 ways to gauge a prospective client’s buying behavior

Consumer psychology 101: Apply these engagement strategies to your sales funnel process.

15 ways to gauge a prospective client’s buying behavior
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Keeping your fingers on the pulse of what’s going on inside the mind of today’s consumers, in real-time, doesn’t have to be a hit-or-miss situation. If you utilize the proper tools and techniques available, you’ll be able to quickly identify ways to elevate the customer’s journey and exceed their satisfaction.

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Once you’ve discovered what is working, or how to make the necessary tweaks in their experience with your products or services, you’ll also be on track to gaining their long-term loyalty, trust, and support when it comes to advocating for your brand.

Below are 15 methods that Fast Company Executive Board members are implementing in their business practices to engage with prospects and gather key information, which leads to sales.

1. EFFECTIVE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

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Figure out how your ideal customer persona gets a hit of dopamine from your product or service. Then deliver that addictive chemical with each engagement. It will be different for each company and service, but if you can figure out what makes your customers happy, you will build loyalty. Don’t focus on the brand, focus on happiness, and the brand will come later. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

2. REFERRALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

For a software as a service company, referrals and user recommendations are essential to understanding the consumer base. It’s the best way to measure your customers’ happiness followed by subscription retention and usage analytics. – Amir Tarighat, Agency

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3. BUYING HABITS

Leaders should focus on their clients’ regular spending habits. Doing so will help companies gain a better grasp of why customers bought an item and what pushed them to buy it in the first place. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal

4. SURVEYS AND SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS

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Feedback from your customers will always give you insight into why they feel a connection to your brand. Customer sentiment analysis allows you to identify what consumers are happy with and which areas can be improved on. This information can be obtained by sending out surveys and monitoring the comments on social media platforms. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

5. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 

AI gives business leaders the power to analyze thousands of pieces of data in seconds and provides them with invaluable insight. Using all the voice and text data we receive, AI helps us to make better business decisions, faster, but more importantly, it helps us to deliver exceptional customer service. Sophisticated data insight also means that we understand our clients and their industries even better, elevating each conversation to the next level. – Eric Schurke, Moneypenny

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6. CUSTOMER JOURNEY

Few things help a brand understand their customer better than mapping the “moments that matter” on their purchase journey. When you are able to recognize and solve the customers’ needs, providing them with exactly the right information at the right time, your marketing doesn’t feel like advertising. Instead, it feels like a service, and that turns customers into loyal advocates of your brand. – Barry Fiske, Merkle

7. QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH 

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Deep customer insight stems from understanding the needs, wants, and desires of the humans you’re designing for. The strongest design and product leaders use a mix of qualitative and quantitative research, connecting behavioral and interaction data with ethnographic approaches like in-depth interviews. The quantitative data can tell you the “what” and “how many,” but the qualitative gives you the “why.” – Rachel Kobetz, Expedia Group

8. CUSTOMER LOYALTY

One gauge to understand consumer psychology is customer loyalty. This can be measured by tracking repeat purchases, customer retention, or the percentage of active users. When you track these metrics you will begin to see what type of person is most attracted to your business and what kind of experiences drive loyalty. This will lead to growth in connection as well as sales. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

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9. PLATFORM AND SERVICE METRICS

Usage metrics are key to success. Whether it’s usage metrics for your own customer base or the industry at large, understanding what platforms or services are being used will reveal pain points for your team to improve on. Consumers can report they like your solution, but if they aren’t actively using it, that sentiment is meaningless. – Ryan Anderson, Filevine

10. REAL STORIES

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Tapping into lived experiences is one of the simplest and most effective ways to drive connection through understanding. The nuance within real stories from real people provides a deeper sense of understanding than any statistic or generalized survey can provide. When we tap into that human-centered place of knowing, we enter an authentic, creative territory that cultivates meaningful connections. – Beau Oyler, Enlisted Design

11. MUSIC AND SOUND

With the amount of video that is now in demand, I think the psychology that music and sound play in our decision-making process and perception of a brand is more lasting than we realize. Music has the ability to create more emotional ties and memories than just about anything. Brands should have it be part of their brand guidelines as an area of emphasis and should focus on how this psychology could impact their experience. – James Gilbert, RedRoute

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12. CONSUMER FEEDBACK

Talking to your consumers is key! Asking consumers for their feedback and practicing perceptive listening will allow you to understand what motivates them to take interest in and eventually buy your product. Once you know what they do and don’t like, you can tailor your product development, marketing, and more to meet their needs and thereby drive sales. – Nihal Advani, QualSights

13. AUDIENCE EMOTION

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The most important psychological driver for consumers is their emotions. Entrepreneurs and marketers who can tap into their audiences’ emotions will be able to create campaigns that resonate with them and make them want to purchase products or services from that company. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

14. RECURRING BUSINESS

Recurring customers can give you a lot of feedback on why they in fact come back. Using software and analytics can work well for feedback, but if you have a recurring user business model, you need to know if you are supplying your consistent customers with a good experience. If you notice a drop off in engagement from them, with a change to your business, then you should reevaluate if it was the proper decision or not. – Tyler Angelos, Angelus Brand

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15. PROSPECT TESTING

Test, test, test. Investing in consumer testing for what you want to upgrade is essential. Begin by enlisting prospects to walk through your UX and your competitors’ (without branding, of course). You may find that ho-hum products or features are still market best and are what people want and need. In any case, testing typically ensures that you are making meaningful product changes that consumers are willing to pay for and will use. – Jennifer Dixson Hoff, Colibri Group

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