B2B Customer Journey
5 Ways to Improve the B2B Customer Journey
Consider how customers think and feel at various stages of the buyer journey, from the initial ‘I don’t think I have a problem’ phase, to well beyond the point of sale when they’re finally a paying customer.
Creating a strong customer experience is a team effort spanning marketing, sales, customer support, even finance. But marketing plays a leading role in convincing buyers they need something, long before a prospect has spoken to a person in your company. It’s marketing that’s there for every single stage of the buyer journey, and these five points will help you ease them along their way.
In general, the steps of a typical customer journey include (but not limited to):
1. Awareness — when a customer learns about the existence of your product
2. Consideration — when a customer researches your product
3. Decision — when a customer decides to buy (or not) your product
4. Service — when a customer officially becomes your customer
5. Loyalty — when a customer is loyal to your product over time
6. Advocacy — when a customer recommends the product to other people
1. Make sure you’re on the right journey to start with
Focus on identifying the specific segments that you’ll play in and work to really understand what the buying journey looks like for each.
This includes taking into account how buyers think and feel at various stages of the buyer journey, from the initial ‘I don’t think I have a problem’ phase, to well beyond the point of sale when they’re finally a paying customer.
You’ll also need a solid understanding of who’s involved in specifying, influencing, and approving the purchase. In B2B sales, you may need to convince anyone from admin assistants to the CFO (and many more in between).
You shouldn’t try to be everything to everyone but do make sure you maximize your reach into your chosen segments.
2. Create an ideal customer profile
To help us build a profile, we can use the marketing theory of “jobs to be done”, attributed to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, who wrote in the Harvard Business Review:
“When we buy a product, we essentially ‘hire’ it to help us do a job. If it does the job well, the next time we’re confronted with the same job, we tend to hire that product again. And if it does a crummy job, we ‘fire’ it and look for an alternative.”
So, a good place to start is with a list of your customer’s jobs to be done: the key things each buyer is looking to make progress on. That way you can make sure your approach covers the things that actually matter to the customer, rather than what you wished mattered to them (an all-too-common marketing fail).
3. Hunt down and eliminate friction
Starting at the point of closing the sale and working back, look for anything that can slow or derail the sale.
The things closest to purchase are often the simplest, fastest and most cost-effective to fix because the closer you are to the sale, the more things are known: who the buyers are, what they’re interested in, maybe their objections (plus, there are fewer of them). This means that you can make more targeted interventions to remove friction and improve results.
There is method in this approach. To increase sales, we can either spend more money to get more reach or we can look to convert more opportunities into sales. It tends to be easier and cheaper to focus on the much smaller group of interested parties near the bottom of the funnel and deal with their objections, reduce friction, and create targeted communications than it is to expand reach to the universe of prospects at the top of the funnel.
4. Be focused in your content creation
You don’t need to do everything across every channel, instead do less but do it better. Make sure each piece of content ‘sells’ the next action you want to see from your buyers.
Your goal as a marketer is to move prospects along the journey as fast as possible, so your content should be active, not passive. Start by structuring your content around the top three issues or challenges that matter most – or should matter most – to customers.
While you should aim to get a good spread of content across the buyer’s journey, if time and money are limited, focus on mid-funnel content that educates them on how to solve their key challenges.
5. Don’t hand off too early to sales
A form-fill does not a qualified lead make. Prospects are far less engaged than you think they are. There’s a danger of seeing someone interacting with a couple of pieces of content and thinking their pen is poised above the ‘sign here’ line. Rush a ‘marketing qualified lead’ through to sales and nobody benefits, least of all the business.
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