Mapping your buyer journey
A guide to aligning sales, marketing and CS
DEAR STAGE 2: I recently joined a startup and it feels like we’re often being too aggressive with our leads during the sales process, but not consistently delivering on the post-sale experience. Do you have any advice on how to map the buyer journey and help get our team aligned around the customers’ needs? ~Focusing on the customer
DEAR FOCUSING ON THE CUSTOMER: Defining the buyer's journey is critical for all companies. Product, Marketing, Growth, Sales, and CS should ground all of their work in a shared understanding of the buyer’s journey.
We often look at this question through the lens of marketing, which means the vast majority of companies build a buyer journey that takes them from lead up to an initial sale:
But more and more, the voice of CS is rising to the forefront — the buyer journey doesn’t stop at the point of sale! You need to deliver on the promises made and provide a delightful user experience, activate the account, ensure they realize the value, adopt new features as they are rolled out, and renew.
With that in mind, I called on Lexi Bohonnon, EVP Global Customer Success at Yext, to share her views on how to define and evolve a buyer journey map — one that goes beyond the decision and focuses on the actual success of the customer:
A buyer's journey is not “set it and forget it." Lexi notes, “We've seen a significant change to the buyer journey and customers’ preferences over the last few years — more virtual, more self-serve, higher technical acumen.”
This has happened across the board in software, so whether you are starting from scratch, or updating and iterating on your buyer journey, we can all learn from the steps and care the Yext team puts into evaluating how to improve the customer experience. While they are lucky enough to have a dedicated GTM Strategy & Operations team that owns this work alongside Marketing, Lexi’s advice is broadly applicable:
Identify your buyer personas: Begin by defining your ideal customer, including their demographics, job titles, pain points, and goals. This will help you to better understand their motivations and needs. Lexi’s example of seeing higher technical acumen among buyers has led to a change in buyer behavior — they want to get into the details faster and be more efficient with their time. This presents an opportunity for sales and CS teams to act faster and match the prospect’s pace.
Map the current touchpoints: Start at the top of the lead flow funnel and map each and every interaction step along the way to the signature and then to becoming a successful and engaged customer. When you do this, you will certainly notice areas where you could improve the experience. Lexi challenges us to simplify at every step: ”Efficiency is so key in the map — how do we simplify, consolidate and streamline processes that, in years past, were often elongated in an attempt to build relationships and do more discovery?"
Conduct customer research: Interview current customers or prospects to learn about their experience with your product or service. Understand the process they went through to make a decision, the channels they used to research solutions, and the pain points they experienced.
Define and document the buyer's journey: Identify the different stages that potential customers go through in a way that the entire company can quickly digest. The Stage 2 team relies on this template to get started:
Develop content for each stage: Create content that aligns with the customer's needs at each stage of the journey. For example, educational content such as blog posts and webinars can help build awareness, while case studies and product demos are more relevant as prospects get deeper into consideration and decision. Lexi advises making sure all assets lead with value and can stand alone — you never know where these things get forwarded and passed!
Buyer journey work is never done — your audience is always evolving and the buying motion is changing. Lexi’s left me with a final challenge — “Think about the people you're engaging, the engagement channel, reactive versus proactive, the assets and the standard narrative throughout, and the team you're bringing to each step of the journey. And in every scenario simplify, simplify, simplify.”
Until next week!