<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1021636444570495&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/32387/buyersjourney2.jpg

How to Illuminate Your Technology Buyer’s Sales Journey

By Carrie DagenhardJul 9, 2015

buyers journeyEven though I’ve lived in Austin, Texas for over a year, I never get into my car without plugging my destination into my favorite navigation app. It’s become habit. Although I know where I’m going (most of the time, anyway), having turn-by-turn navigation and a live map at my disposal ensures I’ll get from Point A to Point B in the fastest and most efficient way possible. It helps me avoid traffic jams and, on the off chance I miss a turn, it seamlessly guides me back to my route.

A map is a great thing to have — whether you’re seeking an alternate route during rush hour or strategizing the next step in engaging your company’s prospects. Even if you think you know the journey by heart, you’re more likely to avoid common pitfalls and yield better results by having a reference handy.

The problem many technology companies face is their buyer’s journey isn’t as straightforward as the traditional sales funnel model would lead you to believe. With so many touch points along the path before a buyer even reaches out to your sales team, how can you identify what takes your buyers from “I have a need” to “I choose your solution”?

Consider the following to help you make sense of your buyer's sales journey and build a map to guide your inbound sales strategy.

The 3 Stages of the Buyer's Journey

First, let’s start with the basics: understanding each segment of the journey. Your buyer enters three phases before selecting your product as his chosen solution. These stages include:

  • Awareness: Regardless of the product or service your tech company provides, every customer relationship begins the same — your buyer begins experiencing pain points or challenges that indicate a need.



  • Consideration: In this phase, the buyer fully recognizes and understands his need. This is the “Aha!” moment that encourages a prospect to begin researching potential solutions.

  • Decision: During the final stage, the buyer identifies and compares all possible solutions. At the end of the journey, the buyer determines which option he feels will most likely satisfy his unique expectations.


This chart from HubSpot illustrates these three stages:

Buyers-Journey

What Does a Technology Company’s Buyer’s Journey Look Like?

While no two companies share identical buyer’s journeys, the steps your customers take toward a sale are often similar. For example, let’s say you work for a company that sells project management software to small businesses. Here’s what your company’s buyer’s journey might look like.

  • Awareness: A small-business owner has a fast-growing staff, and many employees work remotely. Because their schedules vary, keeping all team members on the same page is difficult. Lately, assignments have been falling through the cracks. The business owner begins researching information on how to better manage her remote teams.
  • Consideration: The small-business owner realizes her chief problem is a lack of streamlined communication processes. She reads a white paper about project management in the digital age, and determines she needs to invest in a project management tool. She begins seeking out providers.
  • Decision: The business owner locates three project management software vendors, including your company. She reads a case study you’ve published and is impressed by the results, so she fills out a contact form to schedule a software demo. After the demo, she speaks with one of your sales representatives and ultimately chooses to move forward with your company.

Seems pretty easy, right? Once you’ve mapped this journey, strategizing becomes much simpler. But to properly identify each step and influencing factor within the journey, you have to do a little old-fashioned discovery and analysis.

Back Up Assumptions with Qualitative and Quantitative Data

You’ve been in the tech industry for several years, and you’ve been with your current company long enough to know what drives your customers to make a decision. Creating a buyer’s journey will be a piece of cake. Except, of course, if you assume incorrectly.

In addition to uniting your sales and marketing teams, discovering your buyer’s journey offers you the opportunity to locate and patch holes or weak spots in your process — so long as you do your homework. While assumptions are helpful, you still need to dive into the data. Here’s how:

  • Qualitative: This is the data you obtain through interviews, surveys and observation, and can be used to determine your buyer personas. During this process, you’ll need to determine:

  1. What are the job roles of your prospects?

  2. What job-related challenges or stressors keep your prospects up at night?

  3. Who else is involved in choosing a solution?

  4. What questions and objections do your prospects have during the sales process?

  5. What resources do they consult prior to comparing solutions?



  • Quantitative: This is the data based on analytics and numbers, and is usually obtained through your marketing automation software and CRM. During this process, you’ll need to determine:

  1. What is the most common first page your prospects land on?

  2. What resources are your prospects downloading first?

  3. Which resources convert at the highest rate?
  4. What is the top referral source to your website?

  5. What month, day or time of day are your prospects most likely to convert?


Take Insight from Both Sales and Marketing

The biggest threat to the success of technology companies isn’t a lack of funding from investors or waning market demands. Heck, the biggest threat isn’t even a company’s closest competitor. The No. 1  hazard holding you back from exceeding your business objectives is a lack of alignment between your sales and marketing teams.

And the No. 1 solution? You guessed it. A well-mapped and clearly documented buyer’s journey. Here’s the important piece of the puzzle, though. To really understand the sales journey, you have to marry the experiences of sales and marketing. If you ask a salesperson why a customer made a purchase, then ask a marketing person the same question, you will get two very different answers. This is because they’re engaging with customers at different points in the journey. To see a clearer picture, you have to understand both teams’ experiences. Then cross-educate these teams.

By creating transparency and open communication between your sales and marketing teams, you will not only develop a clearer roadmap, but you can ensure proper engagement at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

highfive

Conclusion

It's essential to understand your buyer's actions and behaviors within each phase of the buyer's sales journey. While thoroughly mapping your journey and using it to drive your inbound strategy doesn’t mean every lead will become a customer, shaping your processes to your buyer’s behaviors will help increase efficiency. And even if your current process is successful, a little additional direction could mean the difference between meeting and exceeding your quarterly sales goals.

Additional Topics:
The Author

Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is a seasoned content strategist who worked as a department editor and music journalist before making her foray into inbound marketing as a content analyst for a web development and SEO company. Carrie works hard at crafting the perfect content strategy for clients and using her hard-hitting journalism skills to tell your brand’s unique story. Outside of the office, Carrie enjoys live music, Tex-Mex, exploring the city with her husband and attempting to win the affections of her two terrible cats.
MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR >