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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