By John Kennedy on 2017-03-28 17:58
When we as customers follow a sales conversion path, logically, the company that we are buying from needs to be present somewhere along our buying journey. As customers in today's 24/7 world that multi-channel journey can move across mobile, laptop, TV, or in-store without us even thinking about it. There is often a blurring of lines between offline and online, as we become agnostic to any particular communication medium or channel strategy.
Salesforce reports that “86% of senior-level marketers say that it’s absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey.”
To get a better understanding of this end-to-end journey, we as sellers need to know how to map it to be able to influence it. This isn’t possible without first understanding the journey, the key customer touch points, the buyer persona and how this links to your company.
What Is A Customer Journey Map?
It is important to understand how your customers find you, and the journey they take from the first point of contact.
Megan Grocki writes in How to Create a Customer Journey Map: “A Customer Journey map is a visual or graphic interpretation of the overall story from an individual’s perspective of their relationship with an organization, service, product or brand, over time and across channels.”
A visual timeline of stages and touchpoints that your customer passes through when they interact with your brand. It starts with what is it the customer is trying to achieve, what are they thinking, feeling - what is the customer doing? And then looks at how your company fits into this before, during and after a sale.
Viewing the journey from the customer’s perspective enables your company to spot the gaps that impact the customer experience (CX). Removing these inefficiencies not only improves customer experience, it may also save the company money and increase revenue.
You might wonder whether a customer journey map is the same thing as a sales funnel. The answer is no, a sales funnel provides a theoretical view of the sales process, but does not actually map the journey fully from the customers perspective.
Benefits of drawing up a customer journey map are:
- Helps you to understand your customers by "walking in your customer shoes"
- Expose changes in customer behaviour
- Appreciate what the customer issues are and work on addressing them
- Identify areas in which you can differentiate your customer experience
- Discover how customers engage with your brand
- Uncover operational inefficiencies and reveal unmet customer needs
- Breakdown organisational silos
- See and approach things from a customer’s point of view
- Provides a shared vision of the customer
In order to become a journey driven organisation, you’ll need to understand the customer journey and what actions to take. The HubSpot inbound methodology lays out the stages of a customer journey, the actions and the tools used to lead a stranger toward becoming a customer.
How Do I Start A Customer Journey Map?
First of all give some thought to how your organisation, product or brand fits into the customers life. If you have not created a customer journey map before it is best to draw up an internal map, which details your best guess of the customer’s journey. The second step is to validate your internal findings with your customers, which means talking to them, doing research and using what data you have available.
The concept of a customer journey map is being able to track and visualise how individuals engage and interact with your brand across multiple channels, and to decide where to focus your efforts. Taking into account both the emotional and rational thoughts that go into a purchase. So for example; how long does the journey take, the sources of information, the “moments of truth” for the buyer that you will try to influence. The mapping should identify the gaps, how you are missing opportunities, falling short on service, etc. You need to understand what is a persons objectives and for each stage of the journey what do they want to know, how are they searching and are you meeting these demands.
My two favourite tools on visualising the customer journey are www.smaply:
Below we have compiled a list of questions to help you fully understand your B2B customer journey. These will help you to become more informed of what the journey looks like for your customers and your company.
What Information Do You Need To Understand A Customer Journey?
Buyer background (buyer role, type of job, etc.)
1. What job do they have, level of seniority?
2. How long have they been in the company?
3. What is their role in the company?
4. What are their work responsibilities?
5. What skills or expertise are required to do their job?
6. What tools do they use?
7. How is their work measured?
8. Is there any particular influencer or group that they trust?
9. What is their company organisational structure like?
Demographics (male / female, age, location where they live, etc.)
10. Describe their career path.
11. How did they end up where they are today?
12. What does a typical day look like for them?
13. What motivates them?
14. What typically do they like and dislike about their job?
15. Where do they spend most of their time at work?
16. What are their top work priorities?
17. What are the consequences of inaction by the buyer?
“Firmographics” (industry type, company size, location, number of employees, etc.)
18. What type of industry or segment are they in?
19. Do they sell a service or products?
20. Any key industry verticals to be aware of?
21. What is the company size: How many employees? Annual revenue?
22. Do they have a particular business model that they follow?
23. What are their geographic locations?
24. Any particular customer base?
25. Who are their competitors?
Goals (Primary and secondary)
26. What is the top priority that they are responsible for?
27. What does it mean to be successful for them?
28. How do they decide the priorities?
29. Are there common misconceptions buyers have about addressing the goal or challenge?
Pain (Primary and secondary)
30. What are their biggest challenges or pain?
31. What do you offer to help them overcome specific pain?
32. How do they solve (or cope with) the problem before they found your solution?
33. Is there a particular corporate language or terminology that they might use when talking about or searching for a solution?
34. What keywords and search phrases do they use when looking for a solution?
How do they buy things?
35. How do they prefer to interact with vendors (e.g. email or in person)?
36. Do they use the Internet to research vendors or products?
37. Describe a possible recent purchase and how they would approach it.
38. Do they have a particular evaluation process when making a purchase?
39. What are the common buying triggers that set customers off in search of a solution?
40. Are there particular categories of solutions for the buyers to investigate?
41. How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
Objections (why would they not buy your product or service?)
42. Have you had any feedback before on resistance to buy, or what concerns they have with your offering?
43. Have you done any research to see what are the key reasons to buy, and how does your solution match that list?
44. When buyers investigate your company’s offering, what do they like about it compared to your competitors?
45. What are the most important added values of your product/service to the customer?
46. Do you have a value proposition?
47. How complex is your solution to use and implement?
48. What level of knowledge, skills or experience do customers need?
49. Are there certain criteria that buyers use to evaluate what you offer?
50. Do prospective buyers have expectations of a trial before they purchase?
51. Outside of making a purchase, are there additional preparations, such as implementation plans or training strategies that need to be made?
52. What is the average length of the sales cycle?
53. What does the competitive landscape look like, mature, new entrants, growth, etc?
Where and how would your persona search for information?
54. The type of information, search / keywords, etc.?
55. What do they read or format do they prefer to consume content in?
56. How much information do they source from colleagues or friends?
57. How do they learn about new information for their job?
58. What publications or blogs do they read?
59. What associations and social networks or platforms do they participate in?
60. Where can you find them, and how would you educate them, do they have a preferred format for learning or digital engagement?
61. What thought leaders, writers, bloggers, and industry experts do they follow?
I don't think you need to answer every single question to understand the B2B customer journey, but the more of this kind of knowledge you do have about your customers, business, and marketplace, the more effective your efforts will be.
The true value from answering these questions is not derived from the exercise itself but from the actions that follow it, how well you operationalise the information and knowledge that you have gathered. Using it for example in a comprehensive inbound marketing programme.
To help you collect your thoughts we have created a fully customisable PowerPoint template to help inspire your marketing strategy and planning. Free to use and share with your colleagues:
Image source: www.freepik.com