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What Is the Buyer’s Journey — and Why Should You Care About It?

The buyer journey is a customer's path to purchase. Your job is to be a trusted guide along the way. [Studio Science]

Learn how to map out your buyer's journey to improve the path to purchase.

Today’s buyers are more informed than ever. In fact, 81% of reps say customers are conducting their own research before they ever connect with sales. Canned scripts and one-size-fits-all methods won’t cut it when dealing with savvy buyers — they want more detailed information, more personalized solutions, and a tailored sales approach. That’s why it’s so critical to understand the buyer’s journey. Once you know what a prospect needs to move from interest to purchase, you navigate the sales road with ease and close quickly.

Here’s how you get there.

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What is the buyer’s journey?

The buyer’s journey accounts for all the steps a customer takes to move from discovery for a product to purchase. This includes their behaviors and attitudes toward your brand and how they interact with your marketing and, eventually, your product or service.

This journey is typically segmented into three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Don’t assume, however, that every buyer steps through those three stages in 1-2-3 order every time. Buyers’ journeys often wind up taking very non-linear paths. We’ll get into that below.

What are the stages of the buyer’s journey?

As noted above, the buyer’s journey can be summed up in three stages. Each stage factors in the psychological state of the buyer, including their needs, behaviors, and decision-making processes. These help inform the actions a seller can take to move the deal forward. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

Awareness stage

Buyers at the awareness stage want something that solves a problem or meets a need, but they don’t know exactly what that is. They start to gather information about solutions, but this information is driven by knowledge of a specific product, service, or brand. Typically, this research involves online research or conversations with others dealing with similar problems/needs.

Tip: At this stage, it’s all about making a strong and credible first impression that lays the groundwork for a relationship based on trust and value. How? By focusing on solutions. Don’t pitch a product — solve a problem. This is when your marketing content, especially on social media, can shine. Video content is a great way to answer questions, provide examples, share testimonials, and deliver in-depth information that promises a helpful solution. As part of this, you’ll want to gently introduce your product — while keeping the focus on the solution it offers, not the features it includes.

Consideration stage

As buyers move into this stage, they are actively researching, comparing, and considering different options. Online shopping and review sites, social media, and email newsletters give customers multiple channels to explore. Take advantage of these by making them next steps in the buyer journey. If you find the buyer is engaging with awareness content like a blog post, for example, create a promo for a newsletter signup in the post to encourage continued engagement.

Tip: Engage potential customers in this stage by providing detailed, comparative, and solution-focused content like blog posts and personalized emails that highlight the unique benefits and features of your offerings.

Decision stage

By now, buyers understand their problem, have done their research, and are ready to make a purchase — but they haven’t crossed the finish line yet. Everything they’ve explored up to now, including price, value, features, benefits, customer reviews, and brand reputation, will be considered and factored into their final decision. The seller’s job? Package all of these as part of the original solution the buyer was looking for.

Tip: In this crucial stage, you want to address any remaining concerns and help the buyer make a purchase decision. To overcome objections, your interactions with customers should be persuasive, reassuring, and clear. Reinforce the value and benefits of your offering. Remember: Selling a solution rather than a product can help set you apart from competitors.

Why is understanding the buyer’s journey important?

More than just a throwaway sales concept, the buyer’s journey lets you see and understand the choices your buyers make at each stage of the sales process so you can meet their needs in the moment. Understanding the buyer’s journey can give you:

  • Enhanced customer insights: Studying the buyer’s journey gives you a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs, pain points, and decision-making processes. This data then helps you create content and strategies that resonate with potential customers.
  • Improved content strategy: By knowing what buyers think and want at each stage, you can create content that addresses specific concerns and questions. The right content can provide the guidance customers need to make informed decisions and can also help you field objections.
  • Increased sales efficiency: With insights from the buyer’s journey, you can anticipate needs, counter objections quickly, and tailor pitches more effectively. You’re not just selling. You’re providing solutions and guidance at the moment the buyer is most receptive.
  • Enhanced customer experience: When you anticipate and address needs at each stage of the journey, you deliver a smoother, more personalized customer experience. This not only increases the likelihood of conversion but also fosters loyalty, leading to repeat business and referrals.

Understanding the buyer’s journey is a key part of building lasting relationships with customers. It’s about moving beyond sales to build genuine connections based on trust and value and ensuring satisfaction at every touchpoint. This ultimately redounds to the seller’s benefit; with strong relationships and loyalty often come repeat sales.

How does the buyer’s journey relate to the lead funnel?

The lead funnel and the buyer’s journey look at the sales process from different perspectives. The lead funnel represents the process from a seller’s or company’s perspective. It outlines the stages a seller walks through on the way to a close. In contrast, the buyer’s journey sees things from the customer’s perspective. It’s all about their experience on the path to purchase.

How to tailor your sales process to the buyer’s journey

Aligning your sales process with the buyer’s journey ensures that you meet customer needs at each stage and can guide them toward a purchase decision without delays. Let’s combine what we’ve learned so far into actionable items:

Awareness stage actions

Understand your audience: Identify and analyze your potential customers’ needs and behavior. Pro tip: Use your CRM to help! An AI-powered tool such as Sales Cloud Einstein can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you via prompt-based research.

Generate awareness: Use educational content to draw prospects in and establish your brand as a credible source.

Consideration stage actions

  • Provide more details product content: Offer comparative, solution-focused content that highlights your product’s benefits.
  • Personalize communication: Tailor your interactions with information you’ve gathered about your potential customers.

Decision stage actions

  • Address objections: Prepare your team to counter any concerns or objections with clear and compelling information.
  • Simplify the purchase: Streamline the buying process, offer clear pricing, and be transparent about contracts.

Buyer’s journey example

The buyer’s journey is not linear. It’s a fluid relationship between brand and customer. Here’s an example that illustrates this:

Raina wants to cut down on her bills and realizes there’s an opportunity to cut down her monthly entertainment spend. Rather than pay for streaming services and cable TV, she wants something that consolidates both.

To start, Raina maps out what she wants. She lists her must-watch shows and researches which streaming platforms offer them (awareness). She narrows her choices to two platforms, including one ad-supported and one premium service. She’s also thinking about adding a live sports package but isn’t clear on which packages carry her favorite teams’ games, so she contacts the streaming service companies for more information (consideration). After chatting with several sales representatives, Raina asks for a demo of one of the service’s sports add-ons. She and the rep discuss subscription plans and go over which games will be available for streaming.

Ultimately, Raina decides to subscribe to both streaming platforms without the additional sports package (decision). Lucky for her, she’s offered a free three-month trial of the live sports add-on at sign-up. After realizing how much she enjoys the add-on in the trial period, Raina decides to keep it.

In this case, Raina’s buyer journey doesn’t end after her purchase. Her experience with the streaming services will influence how she feels about the brands and shape her future interactions with them, including future purchases.

Map to the buyer’s journey for better outcomes

If you pay close attention to the buyer’s journey and deliver high value, your customers are more likely to stay loyal and explore other products in your portfolio, which means more sales. Remember, each interaction with a prospect is an opportunity to understand, engage, and nurture. By aligning your sales process with each stage in the buyer’s journey, you can increase sales while building long-term relationships.

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Erin Hueffner, Writer, Salesblazer
Erin Hueffner Writer, Salesblazer

Erin Hueffner is a writer from Madison, Wisconsin. Her career spans two decades in tech, journalism, and content marketing. At Salesforce, Erin’s work focuses on sales fundamentals and best practice content for Salesblazers. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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