Revenue teams work each day to delight and entice buyers. In the current attention marketplace, it's getting harder and harder to connect with them at the right time, let alone close a sale. That means having a thoughtful and well documented buyer journey is more vital than ever.
When you know your buyer, you can develop a deeper, more human connection with them. Plus, planning the steps of their journey ahead of time helps your entire go-to-market team get aligned.
From the first marketing touch to the sales cycle and beyond, the buyer journey is the way your customers and prospects experience your brand each day.
So, while your personal day-to-day might center around dials, paid ad adjustments, or mining your CRM for business insights, the buyer’s day is constantly in flux and hard to predict. That said, a bad buyer journey map (or no buyer journey map) could cost you thousands, even millions, in revenue.
Why? Because you will inevitably burn out or alienate your customers if you’re missing key steps in the journey or if you are making those steps too difficult to figure out or complete.
An example of this is a B2B SaaS company relying solely on email marketing to generate all their inbound MQLs for cross-sell.
In addition to the regular email cadences one might expect from a SaaS provider, such as monthly newsletters, product updates, and maintenance announcements, the example company started sending monthly emails targeting current customers.
The purpose? Trying to get customers to take a demo of their add-on features and offering a gift card if they did.
These emails, which were product feature heavy and did not account for the needs of consumers, tanked the overall health of their database. Unsubscribes skyrocketed, and the general consensus of the targeted buyers was that the company only wanted a quick cash grab. Thus, they exhausted one of the most valuable - and low cost - marketing channels: email.
How could a buyer journey map help here? Instead of relying on marketing alone to generate more qualified leads, a holistic analysis of the entire go-to-market process could have uncovered the real issues.
In reality, their sales cycle was too long and involved. If the GTM team had taken a look at the entire buyer journey, they could have found the friction points and solved for success. Instead, they drove up CAC by offering gift cards, exhausted their email lists, angered customers, and increased churn. A lose-lose-lose situation.
Does any of this sound familiar? Are you struggling to craft your buyer journey map? Don’t worry! The RevOps Co-Op is here to help.
No matter your market, your revenue, or your company size, you need to find the facts about the current state of your buyer journey. Here’s three ways to get started.
Before you can use your buyer journey map to help generate revenue, you need to build one. Involving your entire go-to-market team is one of the best ways to get a clear picture of the journey. Leaders from every business function - Sales, Marketing, Success, Support, IT, Product, and Finance - should give their input on the current process.
From there, you can discover what parts of the buying process each function thinks needs improvement. These conversations will serve as a baseline for questions with the other two interview groups.
Here are some sample Buyer Journey questions that community partner, Central Metric, uses with their clients.
At a software company, your sales team can be one of your most valuable resources for mapping the buyer journey. After all, they’re the team running demos of your software on a day to day basis. Not to mention that they’re often the first point of contact for buyers.
Your sales stakeholders can get valuable, first-hand feedback from your prospects. But the most important part? Your sales reps will be the biggest users of the buyer journey map. It's their actions and interactions with prospects (among other things) that you are mapping!
Not only can they help you with feedback from potential customers (think biggest pain points to sell your product to solve), but they can also shed light on the most excruciating parts of the sales cycle - all while they’re developing a deeper understanding of the entire journey within the GTM team.
If your buyer journey is broken, your sales reps will hear about it first.
If you build a process that your sales function isn’t happy with, you will not get the results you’re looking for. So, let them have a hand in crafting the operating system they’ll be operating on.
You can’t really know your buyers unless you’re talking to them. And, there’s no better buyer than the one who’s already a customer. Get the 411 on your buyer journey, straight from the source, by having an open and honest conversation with your customers.
Whether that’s identifying who wants to talk to you about their experience via a customer survey or focus group, or simply having Customer Success identify power users or newly onboarded accounts, you’ll uncover a wealth of information.
Customers are your most valuable resource. And, with customer acquisition cost (CAC) on the rise, retention marketing and loyalty programs are more important than ever. So, make sure that your buyer journey doesn't stop when the first contract is signed. Map out your Customer Success process, too.
Don’t be scared to reach out - it’s okay! You can frame the conversation around wanting to build a better, more unified customer experience, for all buyers past, present, and future. If they had a bad - or particularly good - experience, then they’ll want to talk anyway.
Phew. You did it! A month of exhausting meetings, and you’re staring at the world’s strangest brain dump spreadsheet. Now what? There are countless ways to collate the information, but we recommend keeping it simple.
One of the ways you can blueprint processes out is in Google Sheets or Excel. That way, you can have one source of truth and keep everything in one place for other teams to review.
According to Sebastien van Heyningen of Central Metric, one way to set this up is by making each column in the spreadsheet represent a phase in your buyer journey (i.e. Prospecting, Engagement, Meeting/Demo, Negotiation, and so on for each GTM function).
Every process is different, so make sure you adjust the phases to match yours. From there, each row represents a goal, exit criteria, advancement criteria, internal actions, external actions, and the relevant objects, fields, and reports in your CRM.
This may sound tedious, but the blueprint will help you map the journey to your technical and process infrastructure (which can also help ease implementation, as you have a place to keep track of your needs).
In the age of RevOps, the understanding of the buyer journey is shifting away from just being about everything leading up to the sale and more toward being an all-encompassing representation of the interaction between your buyers and your company.
That’s a lot of shop talk to mean your buyer journey is so much more now than just documenting the sales process.
Why? Well, why RevOps?
As Revenue Operations grows as a function in businesses of all sizes, the core of its existence hinges on centralizing infrastructure ownership, eliminating silos, and creating a more efficient, scaleable, and process-driven business.
For software companies, that means dropping the old buyer journey model and moving toward one that is more inclusive of the greater go-to-market team.
Gone are the days where the buying journey ends the second a contract is signed. Now, your Customer Success team is likely doing sales of some kind. Whether that’s making sure your customers are optimizing their experience within your product, or helping identify which of your customers are at risk, the journey no longer comes to a full stop before buyers are handed over for onboarding.
Plus, Customer Success can help you generate a net promoter score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score to help measure the health of your customers.
By including more of the GTM function, we help further enable sales and other revenue teams to assist one another. You can better identify pain points within your process, as well as any hiccups in the renewal process.
We recommend documenting any other ways your buyers can enter the sales cycle. That includes any in-app messaging, requests, and contact forms, as well as Support emails, Product interactions, and Success cases. That’s where the previously shared Sales Process Map Slide Deck can help bring clarity.
You’ve finished planning, and your blueprint is ready. In all your research, you might have found you need some new people or technologies to help run the very blueprint you made. Now is when you’re ready to hire the right people and implement any new technologies.
Thankfully, your blueprint also serves as a requirement list for potential vendors. Find what they’re capable of doing for you, and confirm whether or not they can provide everything essential to building your buyer journey.
Use your internal tech admin resources (Sales Ops, RevOps, MOPs, IT, etc.), or you may want to consider bringing in a consultant to help get you started or across the finish line. Either way, they’ll be very grateful for the requirements you’ve built out.
So, you’re done. But are you really?
The buyer journey is not just a one and done type situation. It’s an ever-recurring process, and none of it is ever meant to be set in stone.
Just like there are changes in your product, your market, your company size, or your technologies, there will always be a need to update your buyer journey. Try keeping your model up-to-date as things change, so that new additions to the go-to-market teams can easily be brought up to speed.
Strapped for resources? Set a time each quarter or every six months to check in on the journey, and keep at it. Building healthy system habits help you keep your buyers - and customers - happy.
And, if you’re reading this and you’re realizing you left out most of the GTM teams… This is your reminder to schedule some meetings later in the quarter to get started.
Your future customers will thank you. 😉
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