Clients Buying Process

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Client's Buying Process

Clients Buying Process Definition

Definition: Clients’ Buying Process includes the recognition of needs and wants, information (re)search, evaluation of alternatives, purchasing, and post-purchasing evaluation.

From a psychological point of view, all purchases start with the recognition of needs and wants. The second step is the search for information. After an evaluation phase, the purchase is happening. Finally, buyers evaluate their acquisitions.

This buying process is the same for all purchases and it is the buyer’s point of view.

Why People Buy

Psychological studies indicate that purchases are often run by compulsive impulses. In such cases, the information search is nothing else than a search of confirming data to support the decision to buy. So, this poses ethical issues for all businesses.

Nevertheless, buying covers a learning path. The customers fall into a range from cold to hot, from being passive or indifferent to enthusiastic toward specific goods and services.

Phases of Clients’ Buying Process

The description of clients’ buying process describes better a common purchase, like the acquisition of a washing machine. Thus, we have to elucidate how this scheme apply to our field of activity.

First of all, architects’ potential clients are buyers of a larger buying process. This is the building development. It is an investment.

However, in a stricter sense, our clients hire an architect on the same scheme:

  • 0. Potential clients find out they need an architect
  • 1. They look for an architect (search). They create a short-list.
  • 2. They evaluate their options.
  • 3. Architecture design contract.
  • 4. Post purchase evaluation.

In „How Architects Attract Clients” we explain that 90% of contracts are closed this way. But it is more interesting to attract potential clients in their larger buying process.

Recognition of needs and wants

People intentionally construct all buildings because they need or want a new building. The future building solves a problem like a house to live in, although most persons buy one. But some of them decide to build a new house.

To do that, they search for information on building a house. Some of them do this after researching if they should buy one or build one.

Clients Buying Process - Information search (research)

Information search (research)

In our case, potential clients conduct more research:

  • Should they buy a house, or build one?
  • How much costs to build a house in their area?
  • If they have the land, can they build on it? How? (Zoning regulations).
  • If they have to buy a plot of land, which one? What should they be aware of? Etc
  • Do they need a building permit? How can they get a building permit?
  • Do they need an architect? How should they hire an architect? See the buying process of architecture services.

Usually, at this point they recognize they need an architect, see previous title.

But their research phase can be more thorough:

  • How can they find a builder?
  • How do they hire the builder?
  • Construction quality issues.
  • Cost-control

Their questions are project-management questions.

Some of them get the relevant information on architects’ content. It is the quality, informative, high-in-demand, and helpful content we were talking about in Content Marketing. Thus, some of them get in touch with helpful architects. They will make the most important decisions with their architects. Those are the clients we all want, the informed, open-minded clients.

But those who get information from other sources continue to the evaluation of alternatives, making all decisions by themselves. Therefore, they will try to impose their solutions to the architects.

Evaluation of Alternatives

Evaluation of Alternatives

For washing machines, a buyer compares rotations per minute, the capacity of the washer, etc. But in our case, the evaluation of alternatives continues with the evaluation of information gathered. Because building is a complex process, our potential clients have to discern between relevant information and the irrelevant one.

During this phase, they make a lot of decisions regarding their future project. The key difference is if they make these decisions with their architect or just by themselves.

They have to search for an architect, because they simply can’t continue by themselves. So they enter the smaller buying process mentioned before.

But they are looking for an architect to implement the solutions. They think those are the excellent solutions because they figure them out. All tensions between architects and clients have roots here, because clients try to impose poor solutions.

Purchasing Phase

Purchasing Phase

Both clients close contracts with architects at this point. The clients who collaborate with helpful architects during their decision-making phase continue their collaboration. The contract is just the formalization of an ongoing relationship.

But the clients who make all the decisions by themselves start the new buying cycle, looking for those architects willing to implement their solutions. They compare architects, rise objections, negotiate fees, impose their terms. You know them because they are the majority.

Loyalty Phase

Post-purchase Evaluation

Some clients trust their architects. They have realistic expectations, are open-minded, and focus on the construction, getting help from architects. Those are relationships leading to better design solutions and smooth collaborations, so clients are usually happy. Therefore, they gladly recommend their architects.

But the other clients are after a continuous struggle to implement their vision into architects’ design. They hardly accept any compromise, and tensions arrive with frustrated architects. The architectural design is hardly coherent, leading to budget and deadline overruns, so they are exhausted and rather dissatisfied. Thus, if recommending their architects, they do this for their abilities to accept unrealistic customer solutions.

So, who are the clients you’d like to have?


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By Octavian Ungureanu

Marketing for Architects helps worldwide architects and architecture firms to better promote their businesses, attract more and better clients, and get new, exciting projects.