The business-to-customer or B2C sales cycle has always been viewed by industry experts as something of a mystery. In fact, a search on Amazon.com or a stroll through the local bookstore will reveal volumes of material written about the process that consumers undergo before making a purchase.
There seem to be two main schools of thought on the subject. While some advocates believe consumer purchases are driven by a specific need, others argue that sales are driven by psychology.
Understanding the fundamentals of these two theories can help businesses reap the rewards that come with B2C sales. Let’s start with need-driven sales.
Needs-Based B2C Retail Sales
All consumers have needs, and all businesses cater to needs—whether it’s B2B or B2C. The needs-based sales cycle suggests that B2C retail sales begin with an issue the consumer needs to have addressed and then identifies a product that satisfies that need. From there, the five stages of the buyer decision process suggest that the consumer will research the product to make sure it will deliver. This stage involves reading reviews and gathering ‘social proof’ that purchasing that specific product is a ‘smart’ move. Once the consumer has gained confidence in the product, alternatives may be evaluated as reassurance that there isn’t a better alternative. In the fourth stage—once the evaluation process has been completed—the purchase decision is made. The final stage is known as ‘post-purchase behavior’, which includes possible regret or entertaining thoughts that an alternative might have been the better option.
Under this model, selling to consumers involves:
1) Positioning a product so that consumers can easily locate it when a need arises (e.g. windshield wipers at a service station, coffee house in an office building);
2) Feeding appropriate information to help with making a favorable purchase decision, and
3) Vigorous customer support to address post-purchase doubts.
Psychology-Based B2C Sales Cycle
The other popular view relies on human nature as the reason consumers make any purchases at all. While psychology plays a role in the needs-based B2C sales process (validation and post-purchase stages), the fundamental belief is that three key emotions drive all purchase decisions.
Those emotions are:
- Ego – consumers make purchases to feel better about themselves, a long-held belief by lifestyle-product advertisers and marketers. Businesses selling on ego will appeal to a consumer’s sense of self, applauding the purchase decision as a smart and/or popular one;
- Fear – consumers make purchases to alleviate a real or, more often, perceived fear. Businesses selling on fear will appeal to a consumer’s doubts and uncertainties and highlight how their product will keep them safe and/or eliminate the fear altogether, and
- Greed – consumers make purchases for selfish reasons that will advance their own interests. Businesses selling on greed will demonstrate how their product delivers more than other products the consumer’s neighbors, family, friends, and colleagues may have purchased.
It’s important to understand that businesses cannot appeal to all three of these emotions at the same time. This underscores the importance of understanding the product being sold, and which emotion it homes in on.
Caveat About Selling to Individual Consumers
Well-respected and bestselling books like Why We Buy and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work demonstrate that no single theory can adequately dissect the B2C sales process. For businesses wanting to achieve success in the B2C arena, it’s vital to understand their product offering as well as their differentiating factor. In particular, what emotion does their product appeal to the most? How do the business and its products differentiate themselves from competitors?
Once the business understands both itself and its product line, it’s important to align the brand with the most effective stages of the purchase decision cycle while reinforcing the emotion-based rationale for making the right purchasing decision.
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It was November 4, 2017 – a Saturday morning like none other, at least like no other Jamaica has ever seen. In a flash, the room at the Jamaica Conference Centre began to come alive, quickly filling up with hungry people.
Les Brown engages a hungry audience at the Jamaica Conference Centre November 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Involve Magazine
The anticipation on faces told a story of deep yearning and longing, probably even desperation. But nothing physical could satisfy that gaping void. It was a hunger that goes much deeper than the bottom of the stomach. After all, the weeks of obvious intense planning by a hard-working team could not afford to yield disappointment. Greatness like you’ve never seen before, was about to be unleashed.
Elegantly garbed in a powerful red long-sleeved top complimented by a flared, quietly-sexy black skirt, host Amita Persaud-Webb shouted exuberantly to the audience in waiting at 9:11 AM EDT, “Good morning and welcome to the Unleash Your Greatness Conference”. Moments later, co-host Oliver Mair joined in getting a room, which was full to capacity, even more euphoric about what was to come.
A pre-conference chat with some of the attendees revealed the expectations of many. They range from ‘killing the enemy within”, to “eliminating fear” to “getting inspiration to take action”.
Clearly, everyone was ’hungry’ to hear and see the main speaker, the legendary and highly sought-after, Les Brown. This, they had to wait for until the other scheduled speakers presented. But lest there was any doubt about the caliber and aptitude of the other speakers, they never hesitated to dispel any such myth through the demonstration of their mastery and competence. Delivering with gusto and sincerity, they rose above the obvious pressure of presenting on a platform with the man of the moment.
Les Brown and his son Patrick shares lens as they departed Jamaican soil at the Norman Manley Internation Aiport after the Unleash Your Greatness Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre November 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Involve Magazine
Patrick Brown, son of Les Brown, was the first one to serve up the appetizer. He came on stage rapping much to the amusement of an audience in waiting. “Greatness is your heritage”, he posited. “program yourself for success”, “we all start from somewhere and nobody starts at the top”, he continued. He went on to share his experiences growing up in the shadow as ‘Les Brown’s son before poignantly ending with a poem entitled, “It’s Time”. It’s time to step into your greatness, he charged, to the applause and approving cheers of a gathering whose appetite has clearly been whet.
Next on was Paul Bryan who spoke of his experience thirty (30) years ago with Les Brown via his mom’s cassette tapes which she played incessantly. “You’ve gotta be hungry”, was the main message that stuck like a glue to Paul’s memory. This was to make the point of the importantance of feeding your children’s minds with positive messages from an early age. Against the backdrop of the fertilization process where from a possible four billion sperm, only one will fertilize an egg, “You are, by your mere presence, extra-ordinary”, Paul emphasized before segueing to his roadmap to greatness which went like this:
- Get pregnant (with an idea) and give yourself over to an idea that excites you;
- Create environments for your success;
- Establish partnerships;
- Develop yourself;
- When greatness calls, answer, ‘YES’ knowing you have everything it takes to succeed.
With an American accent, Jon Talarico emerged next, shouting what seems to be the catch line for all visitors to the Jamaican shores, “Wat a gwaan Jamaica?” to an already steaming gathering. He started out by saying his turning point came from hearing that he has greatness within from a Les Brown conference he attended years ago. Jon went on, sharing his irrefutable Laws of Greatness – all ten of them.
- The Law of responsibility;
- The Law of motion;
- The Law of goals and planning;
- The Law of conduct;
- The Law of value creation;
- The Law of reciprocity;
- The Law of being unique;
- The Law of infinite possibility;
- The Law of education;
- The Law of attitude.
Sheree Martin, in her down to earth presentation style, put forth the idea that everything in life stems from two emotions, love and fear. When we live from a place of love we can never fear. She continued, “Measure success on your own terms…nothing has meaning except the meaning that you give it…you are a co-creator, the universe is conspiring to give you what you want. Live in appreciation of everything and bless others who are living in abundance even if you are not there yet”. Sheree’s model for success is based on Experiences, Beliefs, Actions and Results.
Kevin Ingram, representing sponsor National Commercial Bank (NCB), shared the secret of how the wealthy unleash their greatness. “Let your money stay in the bank and borrow other people’s money, create a vision, define what you want to be; practice good habits, keep focused and stick to your plan”, he said.
Keeping it ‘positive’. International Gospel Recording Artiste shares lens with Les Brown after his riveting performance at teh Unleash Your Greatness Conference at teh Jamaica Conference Centre on Saturday November 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Involve Magazine
In keeping with the positively charged atmosphere, the internationally acclaimed Gospel Recording Artiste, Rondell Positive, took the platform just before the lunch break. As he belted out hits like ‘Overcomer’, fans sang along while being feted to a dance off by Patrick Brown, son of Les Brown, host Amita Persaud-Webb and the man of the hour, Les Brown.
Host Emprezz Golding causing the attendees to erupt in laughter at the Unleash Your Greatness Conference with Les Brown at the Jamaica Conference Centre November 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Involve Magazine
After lunch, there was a shift, a changing of the guard as it were. A new host had taken the platform. The vivacious media personality, Emprezz Golding with her infectious personality, stopped short of bringing the audience to tears through laughter. Her energy set the stage for what to come. Giving out prizes after prizes, she brought audience members on stage to get their moment of fame. Many just had to merely open their mouths and a prize would be theirs.
When Internet Income Jamaica and Pow Social’s Alicia Lyttle, graced the platform, it wasn’t to train participants how to make money online but to let them in about what she has been through. She shared her powerful story of being a two-time Cancer survivor who had to overcame several other odds to be where she is at now. She charged everyone to:
- Understand responsibility
- Shed your past
- Hit decline when the calls from the naysayers and ‘waste’ people come in
Duane Lue-Fung, in his usual debonair style which is known to sell ice to an Eskimo, asserted that we must have a strong ‘why’ in our quest for greatness. He charged the twelve hundred strong participants to:
- Read the biographies of successful people;
- Express gratitude for everything, everyday;
- Stay away from average, it is the biggest enemy to success;
- Be intentional about your thoughts as they create your reality.
UK based, Online Marketer Danny Walsh added his flavor to the diverse pool of speakers. “Conversations is the key to success”, he pointed out. He further went on to state that, “If you are fishing in the wrong pond, you won’t catch the big fish.
Standing tall and strong at age 72 Les Brown at the Unleash Your Greatness Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre November 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Involve Magazine
Then it was time. The moment everyone waited for had arrived. Time for American motivational speaker, author, radio DJ, former television host, and former politician, Les Brown, to appear. The man of 72 years, appeared on stage to a standing ovation and cheers from a hungry crown. He invited everyone to be seated and for the next 1 hour and 40 minutes he held the attention of everyone. “Seated in this room is greatness and I’m honoured to be in your presence”, he started. Les went on to share his story of being labeled ‘educable mentally retarded’ while in grade school. His story is nothing short of resilience, telling the narrative of overcoming, through the help of his adopted mother and high school teacher – a tale he tells with pride.
As Zig Ziglar once said, “some people say motivation doesn’t last, neither is bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily”. A motivated and inspired audience was the result as was the objective of the conference. The stage has been set for the next event of this kind to take place because the motivation has to continue.
The Unleash Your Greatness Conference is the brainchild of Inspire Me Events, managed by Internet Income’s and Pow Social’s Alicia Lyttle, Lorette Lyttle and Andrew Reid, and Think Grow Lead’s Duane Lue-Fung and Paul Bryan.