Understanding how buyers buy is critical to your success


If you’re not seeing the market traction you were expecting, or sales are taking longer than you forecasted, it’s probably time to evaluate the alignment of how you’re selling and how your ideal customer buys products like yours.

The Buyer’s Journey is a foundational element in a go-to-market strategy, along with identifying the market you’re competing in and defining your ideal customer.

Buyer’s Journey

As sales and marketing teams grow, they figure out the processes and the infrastructure they need to scale and work efficiently. In a new venture, there’s pressure to execute, learn and iterate at high speed, putting a lot of focus on internal performance. This internal focus is where a disconnect can come in.

How buyers buy may not match how you’ve developed your sales and marketing processes. Maybe you never understood the process in-depth because your initial buyers were invested in making you successful, which is typical. However, to move from manual to automated sales and marketing processes to fuel growth, you must align how you sell with how your buyers buy.

Some telltale signs you need to learn more about the buying cycle: 

  • Longer time from the first conversation to closing a deal
  • Missing information a potential buyer needs for decision making stalling the deal
  • Someone inside the buyer company sabotages your deal
  • The stated reason you’re losing deals is because of the price
  • Meetings with senior management and executives get delayed or canceled

What is it?

The Buyer’s Journey is the process your buyers go through to make technology purchase decisions. It represents their touch points and interactions with various players during this process.

Key considerations when considering buying cycles

  • Context: the industry, competitors, market dynamics
  • Product category: is your product a solution for individuals, teams, organizations, or the entire company. The smaller the group, the easier it is to sell.
  • Company size: the larger the company, the greater the complexity as more people are involved in decision-making.
  • Go-to-Market Strategy: how are the specificities of your ideal buyer and audience represented in your launch strategy?
  • Bottoms-up decision-making: reliance on the network effect, typically through end-users using the product and promoting it
  • Top-down: executives decide to implement technology to address a specific business problem that employees must adopt.
  • IT/Security/Privacy/Compliance will have a seat at the table at some point (Enterprise B2B sales)
  • Role in the decision-making process
  • Who and what influences are involved

Getting started

Just do it! No, it won’t be perfect, but it gives you a place to start, learn and iterate to perfection. You’re creating a visual representation of what will become a strategy of engagement that anyone on the frontlines will know, understand and be able to act against to help you close more deals faster.

If you don’t know something, use what you know to create hypotheses to test and verify as you talk to potential buyers. Always learn and listen to understand how buyers operate as part of your discovery process.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Start today with a brainstorming session.
  • Pull together anyone in the company involved in selling.
  • Different perspectives will yield better results. Typically, at a minimum, this would include the CMO or iCMO, sales, product marketing, product management, and customer success.
  • Map out every interaction anyone in the company has with the “buying team” across the last ten deals, assuming the deals all have the same context (e.g., industry, company size).
  • Note who participates at every point of engagement and their role. Track texts, chats, calls, emails, meetings, etc., documenting the main topic of each conversation.
  • Detail what information buyers are asking for, who’s doing the asking, and the format needed.
  • Document who you see in deals, what you know about them, and the buyer’s perceptions of your competitors.
  • Take note of who influences each person in the buying team. Where do they go for information when evaluating companies and products like yours?

We created a template of a typical buying process to get you started.

Now what?

You’ve taken the first step! Next is to determine what you’re going to do about it.

  • See where you need to make adjustments to your sales process. Start with 1-2 things and test them.
  • Identify any missing content you need to create – apply the 80/20 rule; don’t create one-offs.
  • Determine if you need to tweak messaging to address different roles.
  • Decide if you know enough about your competitors to differentiate your offering.
  • Align marketing programs to relevant touch points to help engage and move the buying team through their process.
    ○ This is where the Conversation CanvasTM can help map the conversation, information (content), offer, and actions as part of your communication strategy.
  • As a team, prioritize the actions you’ve identified and the expected outcome of each.
  • Track outcomes and apply learnings.

One more thing

Rarely do enterprise buying processes change dramatically over time. Yes, people change roles and leave, but how large companies buy products doesn’t change much. So if you invest the time now, you’ll likely have a strategic framework you can simply update as part of your planning process.

Download the Buyer’s Journey Template to help you get started.

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