How Sales and Marketing Can Align to Streamline the B2B Customer Journey

Contents:

Introduction

What is the B2B Customer Journey?

Maximizing the B2B Customer Journey for Increased Sales

Know Before You Go: How B2B Customer Journey Maps Define Your Sales Strategy

Using B2B Customer Journey Mapping to Drive Success

How to Create a B2B Customer Journey Map in 8 Steps

How a Digital Marketing Agency Optimizes Your B2B Customer Journey

Erfolk: Your Comprehensive B2B Marketing Solution

The customer journey for B2B buyers is often long, complex, and full of twists and turns. With countless decision-makers, stakeholders, and stages involved, mapping and optimizing the B2B customer journey may seem daunting. But a clear understanding of your buyers’ needs, pain points, and preferences at each stage allows you to engage them more effectively and ultimately drive more value for your business.

What is a B2B customer journey? The b2b customer journey maps a business buyer’s various stages, from initial awareness of problems to post-purchase support. These stages typically include:

Problem recognition: The buyer realizes they have a business issue or opportunity that needs addressing.

Research: The buyer searches for potential solutions and narrows down options.

Evaluation: Buyers compare the shortlisted options based on criteria.

Purchase: The buyer decides on a solution and makes the purchase.

Onboarding: The buyer begins using the product or service.

Advocacy: Satisfied buyers promote the solution to others.

Mapping the B2B customer journey involves identifying key touchpoints, interactions and resources that influence buyers at each stage. This way you identify gaps, improve processes and create targeted messaging to guide buyers through their journey.

What is the B2B Customer Journey?

Complex, multi-step and full of unique challenges – that’s the typical B2B customer journey. Compared to B2C buying, the B2B process involves a larger number of influencers, longer sales cycles and more decision criteria.

Understanding what is B2B customer journey and how it differs from consumer buying processes is important to engage and delight your customers.

You must first determine what B2B customer journey – the stages business buyers go through from problem recognition to advocacy – to identify ways to simplify processes, ease pain points, and create tailored solutions that better meet your business needs is.

Key differences between B2B and B2C customer journeys:

Multiple decision makers – Multiple individuals from multiple departments are typically involved in B2B purchases. Their needs may conflict and stall the journey.  

Longer sales cycles – The journey from awareness to purchase may take months or even years for B2B buyers.

Higher costs – Since B2B purchases tend to be for higher value products, buyers undergo a more rigorous evaluation process.

Complex criteria – B2B buyers evaluate solutions based on complex factors like cost, functionality, integration and security. 

More impersonal – B2B interactions tend to be more formal and task-focused versus the personalized B2C experience.

Emphasize ROI – B2B buyers are looking to justify purchases based on tangible return on investment for their business.

The B2B customer journey consists of distinct stages that your buyers progress through:

Problem recognition: The business realizes they have an internal issue that needs addressing.

Research: Information is gathered to determine potential solutions.

Evaluation: Shortlisted options are rigorously compared based on business criteria.  

Purchase: A solution is selected and acquired.

Onboarding: The new product or service is implemented and put into use.

Advocacy: Satisfied buyers promote the solution through word-of-mouth.

Mapping these stages, you identify where buyers need the most help progressing through the journey, pinpoint their unique pain points, and create targeted communications to guide them to a purchase decision.

two women looking at a computer

Maximizing the B2B Customer Journey for Increased Sales

At Erfolk, we define the customer journey as the holistic experience our B2B customers have with our brand, products, and services – from initial awareness all the way through post-purchase support. We view it as crucial in delivering increased value to our customers and driving revenue growth for our business.

Understanding the complexities of the customer journey B2B is critical for you to effectively engage your customers and drive growth.
Here’s how we define and use the customer journey for increased sales:

Awareness – We start by making buyers aware of our company, products, and how we solve their business problems. Content marketing, digital ads, events, and PR may generate initial interest.

Consideration – During this stage, we provide helpful resources like case studies, white papers and demos that convince evaluators we are worth a closer look.

Evaluation – When customers request proposals or move to trial our solution, we focus on addressing their unique criteria and evaluating their specific needs.

Purchase – After a customer selects us, we simplify the contracting and onboarding process, removing friction wherever possible.

Onboarding – Robust onboarding and training assist new customers in getting up and running quickly so they immediately realize the value of our solution.

Advocacy – Through excellent customer support, updates, and a strong relationship, we aim to create customers who become advocates and refer us to others within their network.

By mapping out the stages your B2B buyers progress through, we identify gaps in your current customer experience and allocate resources to the stages that will drive the most impact. This approach provides us with a seamless delivery system that exceeds expectations at every touchpoint and keeps customers – and revenue – flowing into your business.

Our customer journey strategy aims to make the experience of doing business with us as simple, helpful and valuable as possible for our B2B customers – positioning us as a trusted partner and growth driver for their businesses.

Mapping out the B2B customer journey through in-depth research and analysis provides valuable insights that reduce frustrations, simplify processes, and deliver more value to business customers.

Know Before You Go: How B2B Customer Journey Maps Define Your Sales Strategy

Understanding how your customers move through the sales process – from initial awareness to on-going support – is fundamental to defining an effective sales strategy. Creating a thorough customer journey map uncovers key insights that align your sales and marketing efforts with the real stages and struggles your B2B buyers face.

A well-crafted customer journey map:

Identifies the most critical stages – By highlighting high-impact moments that motivate or stop buyers, you see where to focus resources for maximum effect.   

Surfaces pain points and friction – When you visualize the full process, inconvenient steps, confusion and other irritants become clear – showing you where to improve the experience.  

Reveals interactions that matter – Your map shows which touchpoints and interactions influence buyers the most at each stage, informing how you engage with them.

Uncovers opportunities – By understanding buyer motivations, needs and concerns, you find creative ways to solve problems, ease journeys and differentiate your offerings.  

Aligns sales & marketing – Sharing the map across teams ensures sales & marketing are working from the same playbook, increasing cohesion and reducing misaligned efforts.

Informs personas & messaging – The insights from a journey map allow you to create accurate buyer personas with targeted messaging that resonates at each stage.

To create an impactful customer journey map:

Conduct primary research – Interview key stakeholders and buyers to uncover the reality of their journeys.

Illustrate the process – Use visual tools like diagrams, flowcharts and customer avatars to clearly depict each stage and touchpoint.  

Identify pain points – Flag anything that causes frustration, confusion or drop-off for buyers through the journey.

Surface opportunities – Note any gaps, problems, or needs your offerings could solve for buyers to ease their journeys.  

Align your teams –  Share the map across sales, marketing, and product to ensure everyone understands buyers’ realities and works from the same playbook.   

Update iteratively – Revisit the map regularly to incorporate new learnings and feedback that improve its accuracy over time.

A thorough customer journey map will reveal what really moves buyers through each stage – informing how you optimize your sales processes, messaging, collateral, and offerings to encourage more prospects to complete their journeys with your business successfully.

customer experience shopping

Using B2B Customer Journey Mapping to Drive Success

Mapping the customer journey is a proven way to increase revenue, improve customer satisfaction and streamline business processes. For B2B companies, journey mapping is impactful due to the complex nature of the purchasing process.
B2b customer journey mapping is an important process that helps you optimize engagement with your business-to-business customers.

Here are 3 main benefits of creating a B2B customer journey map:

Identify Pain Points
Your map will uncover any confusion, frustration, or obstacles buyers face at each stage of the journey. This shows you where buyers get stuck or drop out, so your business may intervene and improve the experience.

Innovate Value Propositions
By understanding buyers’ key priorities, needs, and pain points, you innovate your offerings to uniquely solve problems and ease hassles at different journey stages. This strengthens your value proposition and differentiates your business.

Align Sales & Marketing Efforts
Sharing the map across teams ensures everyone is aligned on the realities buyers face, improving coordination of sales and marketing processes to provide a seamless customer experience.

Steps to create a customer journey map for B2B:

1) Conduct research and interviews – Speak to customers at each stage of their journey to understand real pain points, needs and preferences.

2)Define the stages – Break the customer journey down into logical phases that buyers progress through (e.g. problem recognition, research, evaluation, etc.).

3) Identify touchpoints – Note where buyers interact with your business and competitors at each stage.

4) Map the process – Create a visual representation of the journey using swim lane diagrams, flow charts or storyboards.

5) Flag pain points – Mark any gaps, confusion or irritation your research uncovered that hinders buyers.

6) Spotlight opportunities – Note ways your business could improve the experience, differentiate your offering or ease buyers’ journeys.

7) Share with teams – Show marketing, sales and product management the map to align strategies and improve processes based on customers’ realities.

By mapping and continuously optimizing your B2B customer journey, you identify ways to improve every stage of the buyer’s experience – driving increased sales, customer satisfaction and business growth.

The insights gained from b2b customer journey mapping highlight opportunities for you to improve inefficiencies, streamline processes, and innovate new offerings to better meet the needs of business buyers.

two women fixing code

How to Create a B2B Customer Journey Map in 8 Steps

Mapping your B2B customer journey provides key insights to improve the buyer’s experience and grow your business.
Learning how to create a B2B customer journey map based on in-depth buyer research is key to identifying pain points, opportunities, and processes that need improvement within the current customer experience.

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating an effective B2B customer journey map:

1. Define stages of the journey – Break down the full process from awareness to advocacy into logical phases. For B2B, this typically includes problem recognition, research, evaluation, purchase, onboarding and advocacy.

2. Conduct research – Interview customers at each stage to understand their needs, pain points, frustrations and priorities. Get input from sales, customer support and marketing teams as well.

3. Identify touchpoints – Note where and how buyers interact with your business and competitors throughout the journey. This includes websites, ads, events, content, salespeople, products, etc.

4. Map the process visually – Create a visual representation using methods like journey maps, customer experience maps, swim lane diagrams or storyboards. Illustrate the distinct stages, touchpoints, emotions, frustrations and decisions your buyers go through.

5. Highlight pain points – Flag any aspects of the journey that cause delays, drop-outs or frustration for buyers. This could be confusing information, lack of guidance, complicated processes, etc.

6. Spot opportunities – Note any gaps, shortcomings or problems in buyers’ current journeys that your business could improve. How could you simplify choices, ease hassles and solve key needs at each stage?

7. Share with teams – Present the map to sales, marketing and product management to better align strategies and processes according to your customers’ realities and identified opportunities.

8. Iterate over time – Revisit and update the map regularly as you gain new insights, feedback and ideas to continuously improve the buyer’s journey with your business.

By following these steps, you create an accurate and actionable B2B customer journey map that reveals how to optimize every stage of the buying process – driving improved sales, customer satisfaction and business growth.

Understanding how to create a B2B customer journey map by breaking down the buying process into key stages, touchpoints, and pain points allows you to optimize your offerings, messaging, and strategies to deliver a superior experience for business buyers.

How a Digital Marketing Agency Optimizes Your B2B Customer Journey

For many B2B businesses, the complex customer journey presents challenges that are difficult to navigate alone. Partnering with an experienced digital marketing agency make sall the difference.

An agency provides a combination of expertise, resources and best practices that optimize every stage of your B2B customers’ journeys. Here are some key ways a digital marketing agency supports you:

Create Greater Awareness
Agencies develop targeted awareness campaigns using techniques like SEO, content marketing, social media, influencer outreach, and advertising. This generates qualified leads at the top of the funnel.

Improve the Consideration Stage
Market research and custom content like case studies, guides, and eBooks aid B2B buyers evaluate your offerings during consideration. Agencies create this material to position your business as a trusted solution.

Streamline the Evaluation Process
Agencies may recommend process improvements, tools, and tactics that simplify and speed up how prospects research and evaluate your business – reducing friction in the evaluation stage.

Enhance the Purchase Experience
From optimizing your website and online presence to recommending systems to improve the contracting and onboarding processes, agencies identify ways to make purchasing from you as simple as possible.

Provide Post-Purchase Support
Agencies may develop materials, communications, and programs that encourage customer advocacy – converting satisfied buyers into promoters who refer your business to others.

Map the Customer Journey
By mapping your buyers’ journey, agencies identify weak points, opportunities, and processes that need optimization – recommending strategies to improve every stage of the process.

The right digital marketing agency partner provides the expertise, resources, and innovation you need to identify gaps, streamline hassles, and optimize your B2B customer journey – ultimately delivering a simpler, more satisfying experience that drives increased sales and customer loyalty.

man an woman meeting

Erfolk: Your Comprehensive B2B Marketing Solution

Streamlining and optimizing your B2B customer journey requires a thorough understanding of your buyers’ needs, pain points, and preferences at every stage. An experienced B2B marketing agency like Erfolk provides strategic guidance, creative solutions, and tactical execution to:

• Map your current customer journey to identify weak points and opportunities for improvement.

• Conduct primary and secondary research to gain insights into your buyers’ realities at each stage.

• Create targeted messaging and content to increase awareness, consideration and purchase.

• Develop campaigns and initiatives that aid prospects through the evaluation process.

• Simplify and improve processes to remove friction from the buying experience.

• Align sales and marketing efforts to provide a seamless journey that maximizes value.

• Continuously iterate and optimize the customer experience based on feedback and testing.

• Recommend innovative technology and tools that enhance the journey.

• Develop systems and processes that turn satisfied customers into advocates and references.

Erfolk brings deep expertise in B2B marketing, a proven customer journey methodology and an arsenal of strategic and creative solutions. Our holistic, iterative approach ensures we continuously refine and improve your offering, messaging, and customer experience to drive the greatest impact.

Working with an agency partner like Erfolk assists you to provide a customer journey that truly exceeds expectations at every stage – positioning your business as a trusted solution that makes a real difference in your customer’s success.

Let’s discuss how we’ll optimize your B2B customer journey to increase leads, sales, and customer loyalty.

outsourced marketing manager

Christian Pyrros
Managing Director

We look forward to hearing about your next marketing project. Schedule your call with us now.