Understanding the SaaS Customer Buying Cycle

In the business world, with various sciences and structures, you will undoubtedly have noticed that in many cases, things work around various types of cycles. Customer experience, production and product management, marketing, and many others all work in various cyclical forms. The nature and boundaries of some of these cycles can be difficult to comprehend, and even more difficult to explain, but that isn’t always the case. In the case of the customer buying cycle, it’s pretty simple to understand as a concept.

This cycle is actually a subset of customer experience, a subset of marketing and sales, and to a lesser extent, also a subset of product management and various financial processes. So, it’s one of those constructs through which a number of departments and disciplines overlap. Needless to say, it’s important to understand the buying cycle for a number of reasons. So, allow me to explain first the three common stages of a buying cycle, and then explain why having a good grasp of this cycle is so critical.

So, as I said, there are three stages in most representations of this cycle, and they’re pretty distinct from one another, unlike other, more ambiguous cycle concepts in business. The first is awareness. This can be defined as the initial point at which a customer is aware of your product or service, when they first become aware of a problem resulting in the need for this solution (but not specifically aware of you yet), or similar engagement. You can see where this overlaps the customer experience cycle pretty parallel here.

The second stage is consideration, which is where the customer considers first whether or not to seek out a solution, and then does research into various services or products to fill it, including yours. They will research your company, your product/service, competition, and of course, reviews and other third party literature. Again, this aligns with the greater customer experience cycle pretty closely.

Finally, there is the purchase, which is pretty obvious in its definition. And here, the alignment with customer experience ends, as experience goes on to include any customer service or support, as well as the discussion a customer may have with others, and so on.

So, now that we see the cycle, it’s pretty cut and dry. Customer becomes aware of a product or their need for it, they weigh their options, and they make a choice. This is basic commerce right? Well, yeah, but there’s a reason we need to see this cycle in this particular way.

In understanding these steps, we see what elements must be strategized for the first two, in order to add some surety that they will become customers of your specific company, and not competition. We can influence this in how we make them aware, and in how we engage them during consideration. Marketing campaigns that make an impact and speak to them personally will already instill some bias for your service, and engaging them by making the maximum amount of research material available can continue to influence them to choose your service. The sheer amount of data alone can make them feel that they have more surety with your option, even if another one looks in some aspects like it might be superior in some way.

Well, now we understand how the customer buying cycle works, and why it’s important. This just goes to show that not all these business cycle units are that confusing nor that complex. It’s sometimes a breath of fresh air when a concept is this easy to talk about and to understand, isn’t it?

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Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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