The ‘New’ Center of the Sales Cycle

The sales cycle is a classic framework that has been around for a long time. You can find versions that are more complicated than this, but I like this one.

For me, this is the simplest way of breaking down how a person goes about choosing and using a product or service. The cycle may happen fast (when you’re buying a candy bar) or the cycle may happen slow (when you’re buying a car) but it generally happens in this order, over and over again. This framework, however, often ignores a critical characteristic at the heart of the entire cycle. It’s sharing.

Now, if you listen to the Social Media Gurus™, you’d think they had discovered a new law of nature recently – that people share information during each stage of the sales cycle. Some pundits have gone so far as to say that this sharing phenomenon has destroyed the sales cycle. But the fact is, humans sharing information about their needs and their purchases isn’t a new phenomenon. People have always shared information with other people:

– “Do you know a good butcher?”

– “How do you like your Cadillac?”

– “‘Do you want Levis or Wranglers?”

– “How do I get this DVR to record a show?”

I imagine that even during the Mesopotamian era of branding, folks were asking questions and sharing information about the local olive oil producer, neighborhood wine maker or weaver. Those conversations happened on the sidewalk, over kitchen tables and backyard fences. That’s not new. What is new is the fact that now marketers can participate in the conversations as they’re increasingly happening on-line for the world to see and search, real time and permanently. So although the manifestations of a natural human characteristic (the desire to share with others) may be changing, our inherent nature isn’t. For me, that’s one of the key truths about looking at various ‘eras’ of branding…the tactics may change, but many of the central principles remain the same. And all the chatter about the new ways in which brands have to behave are true to a certain extent. But that chatter misses the fact that it isn’t ‘sharing’ that’s new  – it’s how we’re able to do it these days.

What are the ways you’re seeing this ‘new’ center of the sales cycle making itself manifest?

Image from Flickr user: thomas.williams


Commenting area

  1. I’m a post graduate brand identity teacher at Universidad Austral of Buenos Aires and recently had a comment from one of my master’s degree student. He was very enthusiastic about how brands would die with social media and how influential friends would be more important than brands, given the fact that you could just tweet a question about a certain product and inmediately get an array of responses that could eventually turn any brand strategy useless.

    I completely agree with your post and would like to thank you for a very clear and simple answer to the issue. Probably not the only one but a very useful one for me.

    • Tito-Thanks for the note. I’ve heard that argument, too. I don’t think brands are going away, but I do believe how brands will have to operate in this new era will change. feedback/answers from friends have always played a role in branding decisions. That’s nothing new. But your master’s degree student is right that brands won’t be able to exploit the information difference like they used to in the past. Today, almost everything is transparent: production, ingredients, pricing, etc. This new era and how brands will operate is exactly what I’m trying to explore and discuss in this blog.

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