Even 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.
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:
This chart from HubSpot illustrates these three stages:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.