The Buyer’s Journey, Literally
Let’s begin our buyer’s journey map with the story of a tangible journey. An accountant, let’s call him, Mr. Accountant, takes the bus to work (because he’s thrifty like that). While on the bus, he scrolls through an accounting subreddit*, where one of his peers asked a question about how to better present company health at board meetings. Other peers jump in to share their experiences and link to consultants they’ve hired, tools they leverage, and processes they’ve implemented. With his annual review on the horizon, Mr. Accountant ponders how bringing such a solution to his CFO’s similar struggles to report to the board might result in a particularly profitable annual increase, or maybe even the kind of initiative that will put him in line as the next CFO. When he gets to work, he returns to the subreddit and further explores the recommendations in the thread.
If you’re marketing an accounting software that helps solve this issue, how do you earn Mr. Accountant’s business? This article isn’t about the tactics, but rather about how you bring Mr. Accountant into your funnel and manage his experience from “lead” through sales qualification.
*If you’re not familiar with Reddit, here’s a marketing subreddit
Where Journey Mapping Fits in Demand Generation
In his post “Demand Generation Framework, A Playbook for Impacting Revenue“, our Chief Strategy Officer, JT Bricker, explained the strategic elements of our demand generation sub-framework (pictured below). Before you go any further, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have we done our target market research?
- Do we have our ideal customer profiles defined?
- Do we have a solid grasp on our buying roles?
- Do we know what our target accounts are?
If you answered yes, congratulations! That means you’re perfectly prepared to move to the next pillar, “Process”. If you answered no, don’t fret! Take a look at JT’s article and it’ll give you an excellent source to get started. You can also always give us a call and we’ll collaborate with you to identify and define these strategic elements.
Today, I want to talk through three pillars that fall under the “Process” part of the framework. Lifecycle, scoring and routing are key pieces of the marketing puzzle. And they can help you achieve big goals, if they’re approached the right way.
Lifecycle (Your Buyer’s Journey): Customer versus company
When you start to shift from strategy into the process pillar of our framework, one of the first things you’ll address is lifecycle. In other words, you must understand your buyer’s journey. This is important for many reasons:
- It enables the right people/roles to do the appropriate things to move your prospect in an ideal direction
- It will help you manage and maintain relevant data in your systems
- It provides valuable insights into what stages your prospects/customers are currently residing and where you may have bottlenecks that need to be alleviated with strategy/process adjustments
There are two ways to view your lifecycle: from the perspective of your company, and from the perspective of the customer. It’s usually easier to view it through the company lens, since you’re part of the company, but it’s imperative you look at it through both lenses.
The Accounting Software Perspective
Using our Mr. Accountant example, think about the lifecycle from an accounting company’s perspective first.
- When Mr. Accountant hits the company website, what happens?
- If he fills out a form to download a piece of content, thus becoming known, what happens?
- Do you think the accounting software company understands where Mr. Accountant came from and what type of information he’s seeking? Do you think they understand his personal drivers?
- How will they get Mr. Accountant into a product demo?
- What happens after the demo?
- At which stage will he bring in his CFO? Will that happen as the result of someone in the software organization encouraging it? Or making it a requirement for the demo?
Map out all these buyer’s journey stages. Personally, I love using a flow charting tool or a good old fashioned white board to accomplish this.
Mr. Accountant’s Perspective
Next, consider your prospect’s point of view. As they become known to you and move through their buyer’s journey, what’s their perception of the process? Map out the stages again, and compare them with the stages you’ve already noted.
- If Mr. Accountant receives a call right after downloading a whitepaper, is that welcome or annoying?
- If your sales person refuses a demo unless the CFO joins, does that put Mr. Accountant in an awkward situation or helpful one?
By putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes, you can often uncover gaps in stages and/or expectations they may have to define a good prospecting experience. Create one unified lifecycle that addresses both perspectives.
The biggest takeaway when it comes to your lifecycle is this: Aim to be selfless and customer-centric in your approach. If you focus on your customer’s point of view primarily, and how your company can support their needs, you’ll set yourself up to reach your long term goals.
Scoring: Specific and informed
Once you’ve defined various stages and milestones you want to track from a lifecycle perspective, your next job is to tackle scoring. The most common way to think of scoring is the handoff from marketing-centric lifecycle stages to sales-centric lifecycle stages.
In Mr. Accountant’s case, we can assume the buyer’s journey begins during his anonymous visit to the site and tracks when he becomes known through the form fill. We will also assume he’ll receive marketing tactics to increase his engagement, from online ads that follow him everywhere he goes to emails. As he engages and returns to the site, he warms up to have a more sales-ready conversation with a sales rep. Which is when scoring comes in.
Proper scoring helps you assess whether a prospect is someone you want to talk to from a demographic and firmographic standpoint, as well as whether they’re interested in your brand and ready to entertain a conversation with a sales rep. The goal with scoring then is to evaluate each lead so you can shepherd them at the right time to your sales team who will work the opportunity and turn it into revenue.
Beware! Common scoring snafus
Problems commonly arise with scoring when the model is defined without fully understanding the full picture. A list of five to ten demographic and behavioral items that seem important, based on individual assumptions, might be created, and then subjectively assigned points to each. This often becomes the basis of a scoring model – except that this won’t get you the results you’re seeking.
Instead, scoring should be informed by data and strategy. You should know at this point what your best customers look like, and can use all the work you did in your strategy phase, as well as some data analysis, to help you develop your scoring strategy. Only then can you define your scoring model, and trust it will serve you optimally.
One last tip, your scoring model should be iterative. This is not a set it and forget it matter. On a regular basis (most people will assess quarterly or twice per year), you should be refining your scoring model with feedback from the sales team to ensure it is providing the best quality prospects in a timely fashion.
Routing & Conversion: What happens when?
Finally, we get to routing and conversion. These steps are important because they help to define the actual process and rules of engagement that will support your lifecycle. At this stage, you’ll consider the following:
- What happens when a brand new prospect becomes known to us? What system are they entered into?
- How do we track their engagement?
- Do they get assigned to marketing or an open sales queue? Maybe they automatically get assigned to a specific rep…
- How do they get qualified?
- What does the handoff between sales and marketing look like?
- Once the prospect gets handed off to sales, does marketing’s involvement end? Or do they work with sales to continue to engage through targeted campaigns?
- What happens once they become a customer? Does the ownership of that person change?
All of these questions deserve some quality time and attention, as they will shape your lifecycle and ensure a seamless process for all prospects and customers.
Once you get your lifecycle, scoring and routing/conversions dialed in, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your organizational goals. If you’d like further help getting your strategic pieces in place, or using our framework to your advantage, we’re standing by.
Meet Cassie Coke
Cassie Coke has a unique combination of creative and strategic skills that make her invaluable to the success of your projects. She is a firm believer in leveraging performance data and user experience techniques to make strategic and tactical decisions. Cassie has ten years of experience in the technology industry, including roles in graphic design, web development, and marketing automation. She has her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Communication from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While not working, Cassie enjoys being outdoors, cooking, and anything DIY.