You are living under a rock if you haven't read something about the buyer's journey. It's discussed most often in marketing circles, but there are bigger implications.

A buyer's journey lists the steps buyers take to buy a product or service. It is much more detailed than a sales process and more expressive of what buyers actually do. A buyer's journey is defined within a market segment. It represents the typical people involved, and the steps a group of buyers takes.

There isn't one buyer's journey. In fact, there are at least three. One is for customers buying for the first time. One is for renewing (or buying the newest version). And one is for buying add-ons to a product they've bought (accessories).

The insight you hope to gain from documenting a buyer's journey isn't what a buyer wants and when they want it. Sure, you'll learn that. What you really want to learn is how a buyer (or group of buyers) makes a buying decision.

Embracing the buyer's journey concept is a smart decision. I'll share 5 smart reasons why and you can decide for yourself.

The sales process doesn't tell the whole story

The sales process begins with a lead and ends with a sale. It doesn't tell the entire story. It doesn't capture the work buyers do before they engage with a salesperson. It's doesn't capture the work buyer do to install your product after the sale. It doesn't consider the work to a make your product a success in their organization.

In a buyer's journey, your sales team participates in one part of the journey. In some cases that part is small compared to the whole journey. Marketing participates in the entire journey.

The buyer's journey is one of the ingredients of the Product Marketing Stack. It describes the whole buying story. From the trigger that motivates a buyer to look for a solution, to how they become a loyal customer. This insight drives awareness, thought leadership, sales enablement, market segments evaluation, message development, content strategy, and go-to-market strategy.

Best of all, it helps with the vexing problem of aligning sales and marketing.

Better alignment between sales and marketing

The conflict between sales and marketing is a reality I've experienced throughout my career. In rare occurrences, there is peace and harmony. If you have it today, please enjoy it. It doesn't last.
The buyer's journey delivers a stable way to address the sales and marketing alignment problem. The marketing team can focus on what they do. The sales team can focus on what they do. Both teams use the buyer's journey as a common foundation.

A common foundation enables the sales team and the marketing team to collaborate for a common purpose: to sell more stuff, faster. Bottlenecks in the buyer's journey prevent that from happening.

A deeper understanding of how buyers think

A good Buyer's Journey Decision Map documents buyer personas, the triggers that get them motivated, the steps they take, the needs they have in each step, and the marketing assets available to meet their needs.

It helps the marketing team learn how to find buyers, develop messages, know which marketing activities work, and which don't.

It helps sales teams learn how to identify good opportunities and bad ones. It helps with efficient onboarding of new salespeople. It explains the importance of using one sales technique over another.

The buyer's journey reveals where there are bottlenecks that slow buyers down. And it provides a roadmap of where to focus marketing resources to get the best results.

It's easier to identify bottlenecks

The 'big picture' view a buyer's journey makes it easier to identify bottlenecks in a buying decision. We often think about bottlenecks within the sales funnel, but bottlenecks can occur along the entirety of the buyer's journey.

In the earliest stages, buyer's may not be able to find your product. They may form an incorrect perception of what your product does and how it helps. These are examples of bottlenecks occurring before your sales team gets a sales lead. These are bottlenecks that impede building a healthy sales pipeline.

Bottlenecks can occur within the sales funnel for many different reasons. It could be a lack of information a buyer needs, or it could be a skills problem with members of your sales team. The bottlenecks here impact the sales close rate.

After the sale, bottlenecks can happen when customers try to implement your product or are unable to get technical problems solved. These bottlenecks create customer experience problems, which impact renewal rates.

Better use of marketing resources

There are never enough marketing resources to meet the demands placed on them. A buyer's journey decision map acts like a roadmap. It shows who is traveling, where they are going, and what they need on their trip.

That insight equips the marketing team to identify the marketing assets that are missing. And provides clarity on which activities will have the most impact on buyers.

The goal isn't to create more content and sales tools. The goal is to sell more stuff faster.

Wrap up

In a B2B world, buyers buy in groups. We'd like to think they are a coordinated group, hunting like a hungry pack of wolves. It's not the case. Buying occurs in unorganized groups. Individual buyers know what they need, but may not be aware of other buyers in their organization, or what those buyers need. No single buyer has the whole picture.

The last article I published teased that there's a new BrainKraft product marketing class in development. The new class focuses on the problem in today's article: how to identify, understand, and document a buyer's buying decision.

The key artifact from the class is a Buyer's Journey Decision Map. It aligns buyers with their buying steps, what triggers them to act, their needs, and your marketing assets to satisfy those needs.

The class will be available soon. If you want to be notified when it's available, register at the BrainKraft School. There is no obligation. I'll send you an email when there is more information.

As always, a like and a share is appreciated. It doesn't pay the bills but it does make me smile.

--Dave

NOTE: This article originally appeared in the BrainKraft.com blog