5 Factors for Customer Journey Mapping

Consider these 5 factors consider when creating your customer journey map.

Gain Customer Insight By Mapping Their Journey

We all understand the need for Marketing to positively and directly impact the sales cycle and win ratio. If you want to improve your win rate – both in terms of numbers and speed – then you need to have a deep understanding of  your customer’s buying journey and how to move them forward through the process. This deep understanding is essential to improving both opportunity quality and quantity.  When lead quality and quantity are out of kilter, sales cycles increase and the lead-to-conversion ratio declines.

How can we record the buying process when most customer buying journeys and lifecycles are not linear? While it is impossible to completely capture and monitor the entire buying journey and decision; mapping this process helps you capture their channel preferences and interactions. You may not be able to know exactly which colleague, analyst, on and offline channels a customer used, or which publication informed them, but mapping the buying journey and customer lifecycle gives you insight into when and how they are influenced.

Maps help you understand or define a process or problem. A map is a kind of model that typically includes some kinds of guidance that others can later follow.  There are different approaches to mapping the customer buying process. Regardless of the approach you take, it is important to include input from all internal people in contact with customers (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Product Marketing) as well as the customers themselves.

How the Best-in-Class Approach the Customer Buying Process

We know from our research that Best-in-Class (BIC) Marketing organizations embrace performance analytics, invest in training and technology, and streamline their processes in order to shrink lead turn-around time and response to customers. As they improve their understanding of the customer buying process and organize their Marketing and Sales processes around the way customers’ buy the see positive movement in the win rate.

They employ six steps when mapping the customer buying process. Here’s how you can follow their lead.

  1. Create a detailed list of your customer’s entire buying process. (customers in different industries or different sizes may have different processes, so one process may not “fit all.”)
  2. Organize the list in the order you think they occur.
  3. Validate the process with your customer advisory council or board or other “friendly” customer.
  4. Reconfigure your opportunity pipeline stages using the customer buying process so that your stages are linked to specific observable incremental customer buying behaviors.
  5. Revise your lead scoring methodology to match the customer process to improve the handoff between the Marketing and Sales team, reduce leakage, and improve the conversation rate.
  6. Synchronize your Marketing and Sales activities with the customer process.

Consider Five Factors For Journey Mapping

Your mapping process should take into account five primary facets:

  1. Initial triggers that lead to first contact.
  2. Steps they take (industry reports, product reports and reviews, white papers, demos, etc.) and the conversations (analysts, colleagues, event encounters, call centers, sales people, etc.) they engage in to solve their problem and find a specific solution.
  3. Steps and experiences leading up to their purchase (the RFP, reference calls, pilots, etc.).
  4. Steps associated with the purchase and consumption (the onboarding process, purchasing processes, implementation, invoicing,   etc.).
  5. Ongoing experience and reaction to their purchase (problem resolution process, new product offers, community participation opportunities, etc.).

Once you’ve mapped the process organize each step into the appropriate stage. We recommend these behaviorally oriented stages:

  • contact
  • connection
  • conversation
  • consideration
  • consumption and
  • community

Now you can synchronize your marketing content with the buying process and lifecycle. As a result you will more tightly align Marketing and Sales and create a more behaviorally-based opportunity qualification process.

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Match Mix, Content, Channel and Lifecycle

The link between Marketing activities, content, and the customer buying process, and lifecycle, will become clearer once you complete the mapping process. It will become obvious that different programs and content will be more valuable and appropriate at different stages depending on the customer process. The map will serve as a guideline for improving the utility of your mix, and the content you use to connect and engage with customers and prospects, and to enhance existing customer relationships.

For example, you may learn through the mapping process that, traditional in-person events and presentations are far more valuable at creating contacts and connections for a specific segment that social media and blogs are. Your map may reveal that webinars with industry experts are a viable touch point for consideration for some customer segments while online chats with existing customers and traditional telemarketing are more effective for other segments. Through the process, you may learn that traditional e-newsletters are ideal for staying connected with one set of existing customers and online community with guest posts is better for another. As a result, Marketing will need to select the program and build content that supports the preferred channel for that touch point in the process.

Is it worth the effort? Research by Marketing Sherpa suggests that it does. Their work reveals that buyers prefer content that is targeted to their specific industry, job function and company size. They also found that educational pieces such as sharing best practices, work well during the early stages and industry-oriented pieces work well during solution evaluation stages. So before cranking out more content, step back and validate the buying process, content, channels and mix so you can orchestrate a marketing effort that will engage and motive customers.

Take a scientific approach to pipeline engineering to improve your win rate

Improve your Win rate with a deep understanding of your customer buying process

The Value of Pipeline Engineering on Your Win Rate

Pipeline engineering is the result of your customer journey mapping. It helps identify where bottlenecks or gaps exist. For example, maybe there are too many contacts and the organization cannot process them quickly enough. Or there is a dearth of qualified leads indicating that the sales team won’t be able to produce the needed number of deals. We can also use the pipeline to compare a program’s performance to industry standards. Pipeline engineering allows you to calibrate your marketing and synchronize marketing and sales efforts. It truly is the first step in marketing and sales alignment.

Pipeline engineering allows you to take a more scientific approach to opportunity and customer development. It serves as a vehicle to manage opportunities, reduce your sales cycle, and improve your lead-to-win ratio. When you understand what is happening in the in your customers’ buying process you can make faster course adjustments.

Read the Don’t Waste Your Bullets for more about mapping the customer buying process, syncing content, and creating opportunity scoring models.

What does Pipeline Engineering Entail?

The idea behind pipeline management is that you can collect data throughout the process and continuously monitor multiple metrics, such response-to-lead rate and response-to-sale rate. This data over time can then be used as a way to assess your marketing mix and evaluate the return on various marketing programs. The data provides insight in which segments and mediums are performing, even what types of prospects are more likely to be qualified. Pipeline engineering is about shifting from the inside perspective of the sales funnel to a customer-centric perspective of the buying journey.

From:                                                                                                                To:

Pipeline Engineering

Traditional Sales Funnel

Pipeline Engineering

The Customer Journey is not linear. Pipeline engineering takes a customer-centric approach to the customer buying journey.










Unlike the funnel which suggests that a lot more has to go in at the top of the funnel than what comes out at the bottom with opportunities dropping away at each stage, the pipe offers a more ideal shape, suggesting that every opportunity that goes in at the front of the pipe truly has a chance of being converted to a customer. While this isn’t realistic, transforming the funnel into a pipe does provide a different point of view. A pipe suggests that different marketing programs and sales tools may be needed at different stages along the way. And a pipe suggests that segmentation, targeting, and qualification are extremely important to the reducing waste and customer acquisitions costs.

The pipeline engineering process is based on behavioral stages (see above) defined by the buying process and not on stages defined by the company how the company sells. Developing a good pipeline requires understanding your customer’s decision-making and buying process. Effective pipeline management is a reflection on your company’s ability to not only identify the right opportunities and the needs of your prospects but to truly understand how they will go about making the purchase. Once you understand your customer’s decision making and buying processes you can develop a strategy for managing the opportunity at each stage in the pipeline.

Start  your pipeline engineering process with these three steps:

  1. Integrate the sales funnel with the customer buying process. As a result, the sales funnel ceases to be merely a tool for the sales team. It will actually morph into what should be called the buying pipeline.
  2. Create a common vocabulary and opportunity management process: Why does this matter? A sales funnel suggests two things. First, the term suggests that this process is something owned by sales and not necessarily a shared responsibility across the organization. Yet, marketing plays a critical role in bringing potential buyers to the table. Marketing has the responsibility to identify, find, and secure profitable customers – that is opportunities. Marketing also provides segmentation, customer targeting, positioning, product offers and messaging to differentiate the company. Therefore, both the Marketing and Sales functions within the organization are essential to building the buying process.
  3. Facilitate a customer-centric approach to the buying decision. Building a healthy opportunity pipeline starts by understanding your customers’s needs and their buying process. Once the buying process is mapped to the pipeline, the pipe can be divided into stages that are intended to represent the state of the opportunity. Just like with a sales funnel the stages are labeled, as contact, suspect, lead, qualified lead, prospect, customer. The difference is that these stages are now linked to specific observable incremental buying behaviors.

Pipeline management can also help identify where bottlenecks or gaps exist. For example, maybe there are too many contacts and the organization cannot process them quickly enough. Or there is a dearth of qualified leads indicating that the sales team won’t be able to produce the needed number of deals. We can also use the funnel to compare our program’s performance to industry standards. Pipeline management allows you to calibrate your marketing and synchronize marketing and sales efforts. It truly is the first step in marketing and sales alignment.

It also allows you to take a more scientific approach to opportunity and customer development enabling you to understand what is happening in the buying process and where to make adjustments. Pipeline management is really about managing opportunities. Opportunities represent customers which brings us back to the need for a customer- centric approach to opportunity management.

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