How many times have you clicked on an ad for a SaaS product, arrived on a landing page, lost interest, and left without taking any action?
It’s probably happened more times than you can remember.
Now, try to remember the last time you had that experience. What made you leave?
It’s likely that you lost interest because you were put off by something along the way. Maybe you found a better option elsewhere, or maybe you weren’t intrigued enough to buy anything.
Which means you hit a roadblock somewhere along your customer journey.
Anyone who knows B2B knows how frustrating and complex the customer journey can be. (We know this well—after all, we're a B2B SaaS company.)
There are layers of channels to navigate and complicated steps that need to be taken before a sale will ever happen.
In this piece, we'll talk about:
The B2B journey today:
Today, it's tough being a B2B company. For one, buyers need to get multiple stakeholders (the average B2B purchase decision now involves 6.8 stakeholders) to agree with their decision.
Not only that, McKinsey’s research revealed that a B2B buyer will frequently use six distinctive interaction channels throughout the customer journey, and nearly 65% of buyers will walk away from it being frustrated by inconsistent experiences.
Major disruptions that impact the decision-making of B2B customers
For a large proportion of B2B customers across various industries, the growing influence of digital channels and involvement from decision makers pose a critical challenge.
That’s where B2B customer journey mapping can be an extremely important tool for your customer experience.
What is B2B customer journey mapping?
A customer journey map is a detailed illustration of how your customers interact with your products and services. It’s a valuable asset for any organization looking to boost sales and deliver awesome customer experiences.
The purpose of B2B customer journey mapping is to understand the motivations and reactions of B2B buyers across the different touchpoints of your organization. You can use this information to help them achieve their objectives with your offering (as well as identify where you’re failing to meet their expectations).
It doesn’t matter if you have a great product or the best design in your industry. If you aren’t paying attention to, or trying to understand your buyers’ mindset, you may be guilty of selling your company short.
With B2B customer journey mapping, you can gain a bird's-eye view of the buyer journey, seeing exactly where and how various behaviors occur. This information will enable you to create a smooth customer experience from start to end.
You’ll also get answers to important questions like:
- What channels do buyers frequently use to interact with the company?
- What pains and frustrations do they experience?
- What key messages are they receiving?
- What information or content formats do they want at each stage of the customer journey?
- What actions are needed to nudge them along the path to purchase?
The tactic has already struck a chord with a growing number of companies. The 2018 Customer Journey Mapping Research Report found that 67% of 248 experience/service professionals have used, or are using, some kind of journey mapping.
The majority of those not mapping customer journeys stated that their organizations aren’t happy with the amount of insight they have into their customer journey:
Moreover, 85% of those who’ve implemented journey mapping said their programs are having a positive or very positive impact. Nearly 71% of respondents believed that customer journey mapping has led to an improvement in customer satisfaction:
Others reported that they experienced a reduction in customer churn, an increase in Net Promoter Score, and fewer customer complaints.
But if you want to get the best results, you need to understand your customer journey better than your customers.
Learn strategies to reduce churn and keep customers longer with this handbook.
Here’s how to create a customer journey map for a B2B brand.
The process of mapping your customers’ journey has to start with getting to know buyers.
Many B2B companies already have some data on their customers. In fact, you might raise a few eyebrows by telling the management team to repeat this exercise. However, much of that information is outdated and buried somewhere beneath the day’s clutter. This is why conducting new research is an excellent first step.
1. Gather meaningful information about your customers.
The nature of information you’re going to collect about B2B customers is quite different from the information for B2C.
For B2C customer journeys, you want to know the pain points, motivations, and expectations of your target audience. But with B2B customers, knowing frustrations and motivators is barely enough.
Unlike many B2C decisions, B2B customer journeys are increasingly lengthy and often involve several buying committees. So, your customer journey research should also account for:
- Company size
- Level of influence
- Buying process
The good news is that most of this information can be sourced via LinkedIn.
For example, if you’re researching corporate account managers at a particular company, you can type “Corporate Account Manager” in LinkedIn’s search function and then use the “current companies” filter to refine results further.
So if you want to collect information about corporate account managers at a technology company such as Microsoft, you can just apply the “current companies” filter and select Microsoft as the company.
LinkedIn will then show you a list of people who are currently working as corporate account managers in Microsoft’s offices.
Check out their LinkedIn profiles (don't skip the headline and summary) to get an idea of whether they’ll be comfortable in navigating the buying process. Pay special attention to their experience and other hints about their decision-making power.
For instance, if they have worked for large organizations since the beginning of their career, they may feel comfortable about navigating the purchase process, even if they’ve just joined the company.
However, if they’ve previously worked for startups and joined a big company for the first time, they might need to involve other decision-makers in the buying process.
Additionally, you can check out the company’s Linkedin page to get an idea of its size and what industry it’s operating in. Microsoft, for example, has 10,001+ employees, which indicates that it’s a large organization. A company with 50-100 employees, on the other hand, would be classified as a small company:
If you want to go one step further, you can sign up for a Premium LinkedIn account to filter results by prospects’ years of experience, company size, and even seniority level. This will cut your research time in half as you won’t have to research information like company size and experience manually.
Another thing you can do is use a CRM to research the activities of your existing customers. Is there a specific touchpoint that everyone seems to pass through before they move on in the customer journey?
It might be that customers who buy always reach out via email, while your phone calls make less of an impact. That tells you something important about your customer behavior, and it’s just the insight you need to improve your research.
For example, in Copper, you can filter for certain activity types including emails, phone calls, meetings and calendar events, well as filter for specific users.
2. Create buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your customers, backed by research collected about their behavior. They give you a more holistic picture of who your customers are and what type of experiences they’re seeking.
In B2B customer journey mapping, personas are heavily focused on where the customer works, what sources of information they trust, and who influences their buying decisions.
Here’s an example of a B2B buyer persona:
While the information highlights key attributes and pain points of the individual, it also dives deep into content preferences and other influencers of his decision-making. As a B2B salesperson, knowing these details can help you think of potential solutions in advance—and even better, you’ll know who to call if the customer hesitates in making a decision.
There are several ways to gather the information you’ll need to build B2B personas:
- Customer support emails
- Feedback requests
- User trials
Once you’ve figured out the traits of your ideal customer, it’s time to define the stages of your buyer journey.
Know your ICP?
If you need a little help determining what your ideal customer looks like, this worksheet will help.
3. Identify what stages apply to your customer journey.
No two B2B customer journeys are alike. Numerous factors, such as your sales process and customer success efforts, will affect the outcome of your journey. It’s therefore crucial to organize your journey map in defined stages so you can get a comprehensive overview of what’s happening.
Here’s an example of a customer journey map that does that:
This map describes the customer journey in five separate stages. Your customer journey may have more or fewer stages depending on your customer expectations and the nature of your business.
To figure out the different stages that make up your customer journey, imagine passing through the journey as a customer. What are your goals? What considerations would you make before buying your own product or service? Typically, a customer journey consists of the following stages:
- Choice evaluation
You’ll need to see which of these stages define your customer journey. You might also need to incorporate additional stages like “free trial” depending on your setup. This will provide a clear framework for understanding how purchase decisions are made.
4. Plot out the touchpoints your customers need to pass through to accomplish their goal.
After you’ve incorporated the stages in your customer journey map, the next step is to determine what interactions are influencing your customers at each stage.
These interactions are referred to as touchpoints, and they highlight all the different channels through which a buyer may come into contact with your company:
For example, a customer may go to your landing page and then download your mobile app. Your landing page and mobile app are both touchpoints.
An easy way to use touchpoints in B2B customer journey mapping is to input all the relevant places on sticky notes or individual cells and attach them to your map accordingly.
You can get valuable insights into your journey touchpoints through Google Analytics. The Behavior Flow chart and Goal Flow report will show how people are interacting with your website:
This example shows what landing pages people are checking out on a website.
All in all, think about how people interact with your company at various points and how you can improve your customer journey. This all helps to enhance your overall customer experience.
B2B customer journey mapping is the key to improving customer satisfaction.
Well-executed B2B customer journey mapping makes it easier for you to know what a buyer wants to achieve with your offering and how to help them move from the initial contact to sale.
Building customer personas, identifying customer touchpoints, and understanding what happens between the stages can facilitate the development of positive relationships that ultimately lead to more sales for your company.
Of course, mapping your customer journey is not a cookie cutter solution. There are several ways to design an effective journey map and you’ll need to find out what’s ideal for your business.
The more effort you put into creating your customer journey map, the better it will be, and the more satisfied your customers will be.