C-Suite Lifestyle

5 Subjects Buyers are Obsessed With Yet Businesses Keep Ignoring, Again and Again

Marcus Sheridan

We see the trends.

Consumers and buyers are more informed than ever.

As a CEO, surely you can see it.

As a consumer, surely, you’re living it.

Multiple studies have shown that today’s buyer is more than 70% through the buying journey BEFORE they engage an organization.

Pre-internet, that number was dramatically less.

But today, it seemingly grows by the hour.

The information is right at our fingertips, and it has certainly empowered buyers at levels unimaginable just 20 years ago.

The question is, though, what does this trend mean? How should businesses today respond to an ultra-informed buyer whose expectations are higher than they’ve ever been?

An Obsession with “The Way Buyers Think”

For starters, every CEO, business owner, and      marketing department, needs to have a literal obsession with the way buyers think.

And when we say “the way buyers think,” we’re really talking about the questions they ask as they go about researching your product, service, company, etc.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve been immersed in the very specific study of the exact questions buyers ask when they are making a buying decision.

For me, it started as the owner of my own business—River Pools—an inground swimming pool installation company that was literally on the brink of bankruptcy in 2009 because of the collapsed economy.

It was during this time of tremendous financial stress and worry that I really started to lean into the internet, and upon reading all these fancy phrases online like “Inbound Marketing” or “Content Marketing” or “Blogging” what I concluded (in my simple “pool guy” way) was this:

Just answer their questions. 

That’s it.

Obsessively listen to your customer questions, worries, fears, etc.

Then address those subjects on your website—honestly, transparently, and without ceasing.

I called this philosophy “They Ask, You Answer”—and this different way of doing business would not only lead my company to become the most trafficked swimming pool builder website in the world, but it would later become a best-selling business book that has now been practiced by businesses all over the world to tremendous success and results.

Today, I look back at the last decade and I continue to be amazed at the stories that come in from so many CEOs and business owners, the majority of which want to talk about how the simple act of answering their customer’s questions changed their lives, their businesses, and their financial peace.

The Power of “The Big 5”

What’s funny about “answering your customer’s questions” is that most businesses, and certainly most CEOs , believe they do a good job of answering the questions their buyers have.

Let me be very clear in saying this is absolutely not the case, and it all comes back to what is referred to in They Ask, You Answer as “The Big 5.”

What is The Big 5? Well, these are the five most prolific subject areas that consumers and buyers want to research and understand BEFORE they engage a company. Before they walk through their doors, fill out that form on their website, or click that “buy” button online.

What are the five subjects that buyers (people just like you and me) are so obsessed with? Here they are:

  • Cost/Price/Rates
  • Problems/Negatives
  • Vs/Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • Best

Those five subject areas literally run the economy.

Just think about all the times you’ve gone to Google and typed in any of the five when researching a product or service.

For the majority of people reading this, the answer is literally “thousands of times.”

Yet this is where it gets very, very interesting.

The Ostrich with Its Head in the Sand

Although buyers are obsessed with researching these subject areas before they’ll engage a company, businesses (at least the very high majority) don’t like to discuss these things.

This phenomenon is called “Ostrich Marketing” – mainly because businesses will bury their head in the sand, hoping these difficult buyer questions will just magically go away.

As a result, we have a paradox of wants.

Buyers want to know the answers.

Businesses would rather not discuss them, at least on their website, in an effort to either ignore the question entirely or at least wait until the buyer specifically asks the question during the sales process.

You can very likely see how and why this is such a problem.

Sure, 25 years ago, right before the internet changed the world as we know it, this was a viable business model.

But today, if a company truly wants to earn a buyer’s trust early in the sales process, they must be willing to address that which others are not, which brings us back to The Big 5.

In part II of this article here on CEO world, I’ll discuss in detail how to address each of these five subjects, and very specifics examples of how this would look if you were to pull it off as an organization, regardless of what you sell.

This being said, the power of these fives subjects comes down to the fact that they are absolutely aligned with the bottom of the traditional buyer’s funnel.

What do Serious Buyers Want to Know?

In other words, these are the questions your sales team is getting every day:

  • Can you help me understand why this costs what it costs?
  • I’ve been told there are a few issues with your (product/service), can you explain?
  • How does your (product/service) compare with (competing product/service)?
  • What is everyone saying about (product/service)? What are its pros and cons?
  • What is the best (product/service) for (my situation)?

Hopefully, upon reading each of those questions, you’re doing two things:

  1. You’re imagining your product or service in each, and thinking about how a buyer would ask each, in their own words.
  2. You’re asking yourself: Are these questions answered, at least to the best of our ability, on  our website right now?

I can assure you this:

If you’re ignoring these questions, especially on your website, you’re hemorrhaging potential leads and business, regardless of what you sell.

If you’re truly answering these questions, then you’re very likely in a class by yourself within your industry.

Want to be different than your competitors? Want to stand out? Want to earn more trust earlier in the buying cycle?

This is exactly how you do it.

So embrace The Big 5.

Brainstorm with your team the questions your potential customers are asking about each—stated in their words, just like they would search them online.

Once you do this, take the time to create content on your site, specifically with text and video, to address each.

And remember—you can’t always answer every question you’re asked.

But you can address each—something we’ll discuss in detail in part II of this article.

This, my friends, is often the key in business.

Talk about it.

Teach it.

Be a part of the conversation.

This is the essence of standing out in the information age we’ve all been so dramatically thrust into.

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Marcus Sheridan
Marcus Sheridan is a digital sales and marketing pioneer. He is an international keynote speaker with a unique ability to excite, engage, and motivate live audiences. He also works with hundreds of businesses, helping them to become the most trusted voice in their industry. He is the author of They Ask, You Answer and The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World.

Books by Marcus Sheridan:
The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World.
They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today's Digital Consumer.

IMPACT is a digital sales and marketing company focused on educating and training business leaders with a growth mindset. Through their digital marketing agency services, events, online publication, training programs, and virtual community, they empower businesses and their leadership teams with the education, tools, training, and support needed to take their careers, and their companies, to the next level.

Marcus Sheridan is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit.