Sales and marketing people all across the globe are gradually losing their interest in the traditional idea of the sales funnel as the concept of one-to-one marketing are taking hold in the marketplace.
Therefore instead of pouring in leads into the easy to use CRM software’s old-school funnel en masse and wishing an acceptable percentage of those leads to become buyers, businesses are nowadays searching for means to establish with their customers authentic and long-term relationships.
This is the exact reason as to why the expression ‘customer journey’ has become so popular over the last couple of years, which show the path that reflects the truth, that your customer’s relationship with your brand is rarely a ‘love at first sight’.
In fact, every buyer wanders through a long and winding road to adoption and purchase that includes identifying a problem, finding a solution, discovering that the product or service exists, evaluating its attributes, sweeping aside doubts, calming the naysaying obstructers who may have a stake in the decision making process, gathering funds, and at the very end getting a green-signal to buy the offering.
Therefore, in the modern times, the recognition of the customer journey has led, in turn to customer journey mapping, which is a new practice that has sprung up from the Customer Experience (CX) discipline and is intended to aid your teams appreciate and build customer relationships that spawns recurring revenue, from maintenance fees, follow-up sales, upgrades and repeat purchases (beyond original sale).
In a flat organization, customer journey mapping may involve senior executives and require direct inputs from customers.
However, this must be understood that it is fairly obvious that sales reps are extremely crucial in capturing the customer’s journey for analysis, as ‘Sales’ is the customer’s most frequent and closest touch-points in any organization.
How “Personas” Impel and Affects Customer Journey Mapping
In any business, sales are the first and most essential contributor to the customer’s journey mapping procedure as it helps to define the purchasers of your offerings as stereotype characters, called personas.
It is helpful to scope the exercise by limiting these personas into small sets and thereafter classifying them by various psychological and demographic characteristics.
The idea behind creating personas is to find a number of well-worn paths by which consumers arrive at the realization that they have a requirement and that your offering(s) is an effective solution for it.
It has been observed that among customers who fit a given persona, are mostly consistent in how they approach their problem and solve it.
In other words, customer journey mapping provides a fairly reliable and consistent map of the customer’s process of deciding to buy your offerings, discerning that along the way, most of them will discover their moments of truth when they need any special kind of information from your brand.
Now each of these moments of truth is, in reality, is an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customers.
The customer will experience a spectrum of emotions and discomforts (which the salespeople atypically call pain-points) along the journey that gives rise to needs.
The hope to find excitement and elation at the discovery of the solution by the customers will be punctuated by moments of conflict, skepticism, fear of making costly mistakes, all of which must be anticipated and dealt with.
Hence, the customer journey map charts these positive and negative emotional ebbs and tides of the customers, associating them with relevant events in the sales cycle- some of which you can control while some you cannot control at all.
Even your organization’s touchpoints are clearly visible on this map, like who are the people in your organization that interacted with the customer or might have influenced their decisions to buy your offerings.
Now, over a sales cycle that may be of months or even at times years, there may be hundreds of touchpoints like your brand’s advertisement, your current reference customers, your trade show staffs, your inbound marketing staffs, employees who manage your brand’s social media presence, accounts executives and ultimately your post-sales support staffs.
Therefore, having the customer journey map allows your sales managers to analyze how their touchpoints handle these predictable moments by clearly seeing when and where a customer is going to lose their way and ask for expert help.
At these junctures and touchpoints your content marketing team will have to provide materials to help prospective customers to find out the issues and pain-points that your offering solves, recognize the range of possible solutions available in the market, and thereafter frame your offerings as the best possible product or service among several other competing alternatives available in the marketplace.
The Role of Sales in Customer Journey Mapping
It must be obvious by now that people in sales should be enriching and guiding the organizations’ understanding of the customer personas since these personas inspire actions that drive in revenue.
However, what specifically is the role of sales in this process?
Sales need to find out answers to questions like:
• Are your marquee customers shifting their concerns and attitudes?
• Are your present customers influencing other purchasers in a way that will affect your future revenue?
• Is there any major shift going on that can affect the entire market segment or is the change only going to affect an important customer persona?
As a person in the sales team, your sales reps are the first one to discover such shifts.
Guide Development Of Marketing Contents
What really works in content marketing are buyer-centric contents (sales enablement resources that express value matching the need of a specific customer persona).
Therefore your marketing contents must help your buyer to find out how they can solve a practical business issue or exploit an opportunity (not just explain features of your offerings).
Hence if your content marketing teams are not providing these buyer-centric tools, your sales teams need to ask for it.
Meet with Marketing
Finally, you must also wide open channels of communication and invite an attendant from your marketing teams to attend the sales meetings regularly so that they can share contents and campaigns that are under development and even use these meetings to show marketers how your sales teams are personalizing the contents that the marketers provide and how they are delivering it.
In the present times, there are several companies that have undergone a customer journey mapping process and are ideally updating and revising their maps.
Therefore if you find that your product management or your sales teams have not yet invested the time in creating a customer journey map, take the initiative and start building the customer journey mapping process for your brand.
We are sure once it is done your effort will have a profound impact which will help in finding happier customers and therefore foster rapid business growth.