The 7 Principles of Buyer Experience Journey Mapping


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A few years ago at the first mPlanet conference ever held, I had the opportunity to listen to  and speak with Dan Henson who was then GE’s Chief Marketing Officer for all of GE’s divisions.  The topic that day was “How World Class Organizations Innovate in B2B Markets.”  It sparked a personal journey and quest around a simple phrase that Dan discussed back then: identifying how customers buy.  I began to use this phrase quite often afterwards, adding that  why customers buy is equally important, but the origins and credit really belongs with Dan Henson.  This is a simple yet brilliantly profound concept that can be challenging to accomplish.

In a recent article I wrote, The 4 B’s of Buyer Experience Innovation, highlighted was the importance of buyer journey mapping as one of the critical “B’s” to consider for Buyer Experience Innovation.  The use of buyer experience journey mapping is one of the, although not the sole, important means by which an organization can attain a deep understanding of how and why customers buy.  A profound understanding that, as Dan Henson highlighted back then, can lead to innovation in services, products, and relationships. 

There are seven principles that are foundational to buyer experience journey mapping:

Qualitative Research Based

Presumption arrived at in a conference room can be detrimental.  To uncover a detailed buyer experience journey mapping, an organization will need to invest in qualitative research that employs ethnographic and anthropological attributes. If not conducted, an organization will sell itself short, very short, in mapping the buyer experience journey.

1 to 1 vs. Generalization

Executives must now account for one of the key transformational changes in the B2B buyer world.  That is, that no two buyer experience journey maps may look alike for certain industries and/or markets served.  Basing strategies on one generalized view will limit effectiveness in creating buyer experiences that result in revenue growth.

Processes within Processes

Process mapping thinking is applied to not only the overall view but to that of the processes that exist in each important step of the journey.  Of criticality is reaching an understanding of the buyer’s processes that he or she must implement to meet corporate buying strategies and policies.

Design Commitment

CEO’s and executives will need to commit to the context of design for such an initiative.  Buyer Experience Design is just that – a commitment to design thinking and to accept that redesign will be an outcome.  Executives will need to lead in establishing that purposeful redesigning around buyer experience is intentional. 

B2B is also B2P

While B2B is vastly different than B2C in many ways, it is still a business to people environment.  Analysis in B2B is often devoid of the emotions, attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and mental models that exists and play out prominently in the buyer experience journey.  Uncovered in the buyer insight and buyer persona development stages of Buyer Experience Innovation, a portrayal of how they affect the buyer experience journey brings context to the entire mapping effort.

Goal Orientation

Throughout the buyer experience journey, there are a myriad of goals that serve as the platform for the journey.  When referring to goal orientation, I do not refer to the goals of the seller.   Buyers make choices that are goal-based and it is important to gain an understanding of the goal-based choices buyers make throughout the journey.  Reiterating on the first principle mentioned this can only be attained through sound qualitative insight gathering. 

Integrated Buyer Experiences

One key degree of separation from consumer journey mapping is that buyer jounreys usually represent a multiple set of buyer experiences throughout and most likely by different stakeholders.  Buyer Experience Journey Mapping is purposeful in building in the multiple experience scenarios and providing an integrated view of buyer experiences.

The inherent complexity of B2B experiences calls for a new way of thinking as well as approach to mapping the buyer experience journey.  As Dan Henson stated prophetically a few years ago, attaining an understanding of how and why buyers buy has never been more important.  Mapping the buyer experience journey contextually to the realities and complexities of B2B offers organizations the insights and views needed to make informed decisions that shape customer and growth strategies in the modern era. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tony Zambito
Tony is the founder and leading authority in buyer insights for B2B Marketing and Sales. In 2001, Tony founded the concept of "buyer persona" and established the first buyer persona development methodology. This innovation has helped leading companies gain a deeper understanding of their buyers resulting in revenue performance. Tony has empowered Fortune 100 organizations with operationalizing buyer personas to communicate deep buyer insights that tell the story of their buyer. He holds a B.S. in Business and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management.


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