I want to help you sell more stuff — to get rich and to be awesome.
In pursuit of this grand goal, the more you know about your buyers, the better you get at marketing to them.
Every single buyer is different from every single other buyer. No major news flash there.
But there are major ways of viewing buyers. One of the most understandable ways of viewing your customers is through the four-part modality framework of Bryan Eisenberg.
Here are the four types, briefly described:
Which brings us to a modality that I haven’t yet explored in detail on my blog: The methodical buyer.
Say hello to the methodical buyer.
His name is Sherlock, also known as Benedict Cumberbatch (or even Smaug).
Why did I just show you a huge picture of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock? Because this sums up in visual form the main idea behind the methodical buyer.
He is a detective, an investigator, a learner, a searcher.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to leave the article at that. We have a lot more to discuss. However, that photograph above helps to communicate the big idea in the shortest amount of time.
They come into a purchase decision with a large amount of background information.
A methodical buyer does not hop online, pop in a query or two, and find your website.
Before he buys, he researches. In fact, he might even pre-research his research before he researches to buy something.
He might even read a book on how to buy what he’s considering.
In any discussion of buyer modalities, you have to understand that there is a below-the-surface level of knowledge and information. This is known as the buying cycle. Its iterations are legion, but its idea is generally the same. It looks like this:
You can also visualize the buy cycle as a straight line from awareness to purchase.
The methodical buyer needs very little time to become aware of his need. Instead, he dives into the decision-making process, and spends a lot of time and effort here.
They view the purchase process as an information-gathering event.
For the methodical buyer, it’s research project, not a mere purchase.
The methodical modality is characterized by a vast amount of research.
Research is not a foreign concept to most shoppers. Most people, regardless of their modality, do some research.
According to the Acquity Group and its study, the 2014 State of B2B Procurement, 94% of B2B buyers research their purchase decision online.
Retailing Today reports that 81% of all shoppers, not just the penny-pinching B2Bers, research their purchase online first.
Generic research is a common trend. That doesn’t get at the heart of what a methodical buyer is really doing. A methodical buyer isn’t simply doing a search engine query. She’s doing more.
Notice how, statistically speaking, fewer people actually do the nitty-gritty research. Anyone can peruse product descriptions and prices. But the methodical buyer digs into warranty information, coupon redemption, access to support, the fine print on return policies and everything else.
That kind of research burns your retinas and blows your mind. And that’s okay for the methodical buyer.
In the mind of the methodical buyer, it’s that data that makes or breaks a final purchase decision. Remember Sherlock. It’s about the small clues, the little thread on the hat, the small twitch in the eye. It’s in the details.
Notice how fewer people research these aspects of a purchase:
Acquity Group points out the following information about B2B shoppers:
- 77 percent use Google search.
- 3 percent check business websites.
- 34 percent visit third-party websites.
- 41 percent read user reviews.
The harder it is to find the information, the less likely it is that the customer will do the research. Unless their name is “Sherlock,” and they are a methodical buyer.
According to Retailing Today’s study, just about everyone does “research,” but few actually dig into the details.
The people who dig into the details are your methodical buyers. The thrill of a purchase is in the process of buying — the research, the discovery, the “ah, ha” moment of finally uncovering those two words in the legal terms of service that turn the tables.
They are slow to make a decision.
Methodical buyers care about process. What is the process? Let me show you the definition:
Methodical buyers follow a process when they make a decision. Every methodical buyer’s process is going to look different, but the main idea remains: There is a process, and it must be followed.
In the methodical buyer’s mind, to circumvent the process — even skipping a single step — is to risk making a bad decision. That is unlawful.
The process drives the purchase. There is no other way.
As it turns out, this takes some time. A process can’t be rushed. A process is a process.
[Methodical buyers] will pace themselves and work through their buying process in an orderly manner. Don’t try to jump process steps.
Retailing Today indicates that most major decisions require a decision-making process that averages 79 days.
That’s a long time. Follow the process. Let them do their thing.
They make decisions independently, but may poll their social network.
According to the ODM Group’s research, “74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions.”
Methodical buyers are no different. They want to understand what their social circles are buying, along with their experience.
But there is a key distinction in how the methodical buyer uses social input. A competitive or spontaneous buyer might do social research to make sure that she’s buying a product that her peers will approve of, or making sure it’s the right brand, color, style or shape.
A methodical buyer, on the other hand, does social research for its informational value, not necessarily its social value.
- What was your buying experience like?
- Were there any hidden costs?
- Did the product meet your expectations?
- Did you interact with customer service?
- Have you experienced any problems with the product, etc.
- Can I see it?
Another distinction is that the methodical buyer doesn’t rely on social networks in the sense that it drives their purchase decision. Instead, social input augments their decision.
ConversionXL makes the point that “People gather [purchase] information from mixed sources.” One of those sources is a social network; the rest comes from alternative forms of research.
They review all the information.
Have you had an experience where you’re thumbing through a print magazine, and then you see an ad for, say, allergy medication or something. The first page of the ad is just a single page with a nice picture.
Then you turn the page, and see tons of tiny print with all kind of information — death, infection, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome. What is all of this?!
It’s information. It’s there for legal compliance, sure, but it’s the type of thing that methodical buyers are going to read.
They analyze the purchase according to both its cost and its actual offer.
There are two components of the purchase that methodical buyers analyze. First, they analyze the basic financials — cost, warranty, add-ons, shipping charges, guarantees, etc. If it has a dollar amount, they’re going to figure everything out.
Second, they analyze the product or service itself. As discussed above, they look carefully at all the fine print to understand what the product or service consists of and provides.
You can think of these people as label readers. They want to know what’s in it and how much it costs.
Unlike humanistic buyers, however, they are not likely to analyze the company’s involvement in say, human trafficking, social justice or environmental activism. They’re more focused on product and cost, not the halo of tangential issues that bear upon the purchase.
They’re analytical. Don’t confuse their skepticism with hatred.
A lot of times, when someone is thorough, skeptical, careful, curious and asks a bunch of questions, we think they’re haters.
In reality, they may be a methodical buyer.
A methodical buyer leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of the right purchase. To serve them, you must provide a way to answer their questions. Provide more information, and then some more. And then even more.
They will read it. They will analyze it. They will love you for it.
They want to be absolutely right.
At the end of the day, a methodical buyer wants to be right about their purchase. Their goal is to make the perfect purchase. They will not be satisfied until they have developed the personal confidence that they are making the right choice.
You can help the methodical buyer arrive at this rightness by providing all the information possible, and then reassuring them about their choice.
Please market to the methodical buyer in the following ways.
Now that you have a sketch of the methodical buyer, let me show you the practical techniques that will win him over.
1. Provide information.
You can’t provide too much of this. Stock your website full of information. Use long-form content. Write lots of blog articles. Provide comprehensive evergreen pages with product information. Just produce.
2. Pay attention to your small print.
Why? Because they will read it.
3. Add extra details.
Information alone isn’t sufficient. It’s the details that matter. Methodical buyers prefer to read about individual detailed facts than generic statements and remarks.
4. Back up your claims with proof.
Every claim needs to be proven with a statement, link or source that shows why it’s true. Methodical buyers are link chasers, clicking down references to see if they are backing claims up sufficiently.
5. Discuss your product/service benefits, but back it up with specifics.
A methodical buyer will be satisfied only when they read about the specifics of the product. Specifics can appear in a variety of places on your website. LanderApp provides this example of a sufficient amount of specificity in a testimonial:
But this one doesn’t cut it.
6. Show studies.
Methodicals are students. They like studies. They like to read studies. Reinforce your information with studies.
7. Tone done your spectacular claims.
Your product might be spectacular, but you won’t persuade a methodical buyer with that claim. She needs to read reasonable statements and determine by herself that you are spectacular. Outrageous claims will be met with a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach.
8. Try to be reserved in your language rather than spectacular.
This approach affects your entire content tone. The more AMAZING you sound, the less you’ll be believed. Focus on a grounded, reserved and balanced approach in the use of language, especially when discussing your product’s benefits and features.
9. Provide more data than you think is necessary.
I probably sound as if I’m saying it too much, but I’ll say it again. More data. Unleash a tsunami of charts, graphs, tables, statistics and numbers. They are persuasive ammunition for methodical buyers.
10. Show behind-the-scenes information.
A methodical buyer is always trying to peel back the layers of marketing information to see what’s truly behind the company, their process, their everything. To save the methodical buyer the effort, and to reinforce his confidence, show this information up front. Provide pictures of your manufacturing plant or office. Discuss the history of your company. Share statistics. Tell about the challenges. Give them a glimpse of what the company is all about.
11. Discuss sourcing of materials.
If you sell a physical product, talk about its origins. This stuff matters to methodically- minded buyers.
You might laugh, but it’s a real thing:
Where was this coffee bean grown? How are the farmers doing? What about this plastic? Does it have BPA?
12. Provide a comprehensive “About” page.
13. Show bios of your staff.
A bio page with pictures and information helps to grow trust in your company. Be sure that you’ve provided information on your company and your team members.
14. Be available to answer questions.
As hard as you try, you’re not going to be able to answer every question or satisfy every concern. The methodical buyer will want to ask more questions, and you’ll need to be available to answer those questions. Use chat widgets, 800 numbers, easy-to-access email addresses, and whatever forms you can to enable the customer to get in touch with you.
Methodical buyers are tough to please, and you might feel like punching them in the face sometimes.
Don’t punch them. That’s not nice. This is the way they’re wired, and you simply need to adapt to it.
But there’s a silver lining after the storm cloud of the methodical buyer has passed. Once a methodical buyer finds a product or service that he likes, he will be fiercely loyal.
Give them what they want — info, time, space, clarity, soundness — and they’ll come back for more.