I’m beginning, dear reader, a series of posts on the various buying stages for business-to-business customers. These buying stages correspond – as you’re probably sick of reading on this blog by now – to the sales stages of the selling organisation.

There will inevitably be generalisations, and of course you should adapt – through experimentation – what I say to your own customer groupings, but in the main the vast majority of this holds true. The terms, jargon and definitions may vary, but the essence is the same.

The challenge for the selling organisation is that nowadays it’s possible for the buying organisation to complete quite a few of the buying stages without the selling organisation ever knowing. So, unless you’re on top of your game and the available technologies, sales may simply pass you by.

So, back to the first stage. This stage is what I call ‘ongoing’. It’s the ongoing operation of the business. It’s in the day-to-day running of the customer’s business that problems, issues or opportunities arise. It’s the stage where the customer first becomes aware – awareness is the key behaviour here – that a situation exists that they need to address or capitalise on. This is the inflexion point where the company starts to contemplate spending money in order to make more money than they’re spending.

This is also the stage where companies are also evaluating the investments they’ve already made, reviewing their performance and making decisions about whether they will reinvest. As such, this stage both starts and completes the buying cycle.