The Customer Buying Cycle: In 20 Easy Steps



Kirby Vacuum Cleaners35 Years ago Your Business Blogger was a door-to-door salesman. Peddling vacuum cleaners.

Cold calling. Mocked by Seth Godin.

But cold-calling worked. Here’s how.

It was helpful if the prospect 1) heard of the Kirby product, or 2) was referred to me.

Awareness shortened the sales cycle.

In both marketing and sales, London businessman Thomas Smith outlines the challenge in this cascade.

1. The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.

2. The second time, they don’t notice it.

3. The third time, they are aware that it is there.

4. The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.

5. The fifth time, they actually read the ad.

6. The sixth time, they thumb their nose at it.

7. The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.

8. The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”

9. The ninth time, they start to wonder if they may be missing out on something.

10. The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.

11. The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.

12. The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.

13. They thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.

14. The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.

15. The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.

16. The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.

17. The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.

18. The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.

19. The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.

20. The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.


credit: growabrainI like to come in at step 20.


If I was persistent I was able to compress the complete cycle into a single day. But it took shoe leather.

If I knocked on 100 doors in a day, 3 prospects would invite me in for a demonstration: 1 would buy.

Persistence and a trusted brand can speed sales. It was true decades ago.

Centuries ago.

Thomas Smith wrote The Customer Buying Cycle in 1885.


Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

credit: Nancy LaJoice at the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce.

Linc-Biz has list.

And see Online with Louise Ripley

Maneuver Marketing gets it right. As usual.

Bookmark growabrain. Worth your time.

I’ve never really trusted a sales or marketing guy until he’s sold cold. After having doors closed. Literally.


You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Carol says:

    Interesting! Selling isn’t easy, that’s for sure! It IS encouraging to know that if we jam enough stuff into the funnel, something will begin to dribble out of the bottom. …Carol

  2. Tony F says:

    Thanks, Jack!

    I need to remember this (persistence) as I’m doing a lot of “cold calls” myself right now.


  3. Fred says:

    Sounds like the spammers who send me the same e-mail day after day after day. No sale here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *