Mapping the Customer Journey

The customer journey today is very different from even five years ago. It typically begins before you have any contact with the prospective customer, as soon as they identify a need within their business. Someone at the business — rarely the actual decision maker — starts researching solutions. Eventually they sign up for a trial or fill in a form for some collateral on your website. Now you’re on their short list.

The journey continues as you build value through your sales process and close the initial sale. Then it keeps going through their first “wow” moment with your services and the expansion of their use of your products and services for as long as they remain a customer.

The key thing to remember is that customers have a lot more control than they used to. They have a lot more knowledge and a lot more options. So how do you get and keep customers in this new paradigm?

This is the art and science of shaping the customer journey. It begins with mapping the steps your prospect will move through, taking into account where they’re coming from and how you can best guide them into a successful customer relationship.

A Bird’s Eye View of the Customer Journey

Discovery: Prior to First Meeting

In our first Pipeline Way e-book, Building a Lead Machine, we focused on this initial phase of the customer’s journey. We detailed three tracks for bringing potential customers into your sales process:

  • Personal Networking. Creating a web of connections and maximizing referrals. This is your chance to get in the game as soon as the need for a product like yours is identified by someone you know or one of their connections. If people are connected to you and know you as a thought leader, hopefully they’ll think of you first.

  • Marketing Led / Inbound Sales. Drawing in potential customers who have identified their need and begun searching for solutions.

  • Sales Led / Outbound Sales. Reaching out to find people who are ready for your solution, even if they haven’t started looking yet.

We also provided guidance on initial lead qualification, and we began exploring the importance of data collection. Get your copy of the e-book now.

Core Pipeline: From First Meeting to First Sale

This phase is where most salespeople invest most of their time.

You’ve got a great sales qualified lead (SQL), and you’ve scheduled an initial meeting or call or demo. Now, how do you make the most of the opportunity and move the prospect through your sales process to close? Also, what can you do to set the customer up for long-term success and maximize the number of referrals they provide?

Customer Success: After the Initial Sale

There’s a lot to consider beyond the initial sale. Developing a strategic, proactive Customer Success program can make a huge difference for your business.

Customer Success is a cross-functional, data-driven effort to help customers get value from your solution or service — and to engage at-risk customers before they churn. The goal is to actively optimize customer satisfaction, adoption, and health. Customer Success goes hand in hand with increasing the value of your customer relationships over time through up-selling and cross-selling.


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Accelerate Sales 2015 Wrap-Up

We just wrapped up our first Accelerate Sales conference in Seattle — hopefully the first of many. For two days, we got to meet our customers and learn more about their businesses, hear inspiring speakers, and have great conversations about different approaches to the sales process.

If you didn't catch our live blog posts from the event, here are some highlights from our keynote sessions with Craig Elias, Matt Heinz, Jack Daly, Craig Rosenberg, Marylou Tyler, Lincoln Murphy, and the PipelineDeals team.

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Live from Accelerate Sales - Lincoln Murphy and Closing Speech

2:47 We're live once again and (so sadly!) for the last time this year from the PipelineDeals Accelerate Sales User Conference in Seattle, WA being held at the Hyatt at Olive 8. Our last keynote of the conference is from Lincoln Murphy, whose talk is entitled, "The Secret to Rapid Growth in Any Market."

2:49 "There's an ulterior motive in this conference...they know that if you aren't successful at sales, you won't be successful with their product....So secretly, this is a customer success event!" Uh oh, Lincoln's on to us.

2:51 "Customer acquisition without a focus on retention is a waste of time...But it's not just about retention, but it's about growing them."

2:56 Customer Success started with subscription services, because it's easy to tell when someone will stop using your service. It started with churn mitigation, but has since grown.

2:59 "The initial sale is critical, but it's just the tip of the iceberg." The bigger part of the business is in repeat or recurring business.

3:01 "Develop the same sense of urgency that you have around closing a deal to ensure you deliver value to the customer." Do what it takes to get your customers to value quicker, and you will keep more of them. Most issues that lead to churn are related to onboarding issues.

3:05 "Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company." Desired Outcomes are a combination of the required outcome (that which your customer needs to have) and appropriate experience (UX/UI, service experience, and other things which appeal to the desires of the customer and not just the requirements).

3:09 "Be deliberate. Be successful because of your efforts, not in spite of your have to know who your customers are, who your ideal customers are, but more importantly who they are not."

3:13 Create an Ideal Customer Profile:

  • What does a customer who is ready, willing and able look like?
  • Acquisition Efficiency. How easy would it be to convert this kind of customer?
  • Success Potential. Who is likely to successfully use your product or service?
  • Expansion Potential. What's the likelihood of this customer turning into more business in the future?
  • Advocacy Potential. What is the likelihood of them becoming an advocate for your company?

3:18 Copywriter Robert Collier once said, "Enter the conversation already going on in your customer's mind." This conversation is the foundation of the customer's Desired Outcome.

3:20 Desired Outcome is Transformational:

  • Acquire the best customers.
  • Engage and deliver value quickly.
  • Expand their investment.
  • Mobilize your advocates.
  • Retain and renew customers.

3:22 Don't be the bad email that gets shared around. Be very careful in your cold emails and respect the sales process. The right message sent to the wrong target can do a lot of damage.

3:24 "We all get cold emails that we respond to every day, we just don't think of them as cold emails because it was someone you wanted to talk to....That was a cold email, but it doesn't feel like it...because they connected with you somehow."

3:31 Move your customers through success milestones. At certain points, there are natural upsell opportunities. Find those in your customers' milestones and capitalize at the right time. Success milestones aren't time based but usage-based. "This may seem somewhat selfish, but really, if you upset at the right time it genuinely becomes a win-win situation." Don't be a salesperson, be a trusted advisor.

3:35 Mobilize your advocates. Operationalize and organize your word of mouth referrals. "There are two reasons why that's really important...customers that bought more actually become advocates more....[and] customers that advocate for you, they become stronger customers."

3:37 Doing these things makes renewal and retention a given. "If you have customers right now that are about to churn...if they're at that point, you might be out of luck....Everybody going forward? Focus on Desired Outcome and retention won't be an issue."

3:40 Thank you so much to Lincoln Murphy for taking the time to speak with us today. He is sharing some resources with us on his website here.

3:42 Thank you all for joining us on this journey. We hope you found something from this conference that will bring you value your business going forward!