The Cyclonic Buyer Journey
Almost everyone has noticed that the old marketing and sales playbook doesn’t work like it used to. You can’t cold call and sell your way into sustainable, predictable and repeatable revenue generation. The old funnel isn’t representative of your prospects’ buying experience anymore.
Instead, you have to earn attention and get found by creating disruptive and compelling content, including your own company story. After you’ve earned that attention, you must nurture those prospects to continue the conversation while they proceed on their own journey.
Then, when they are ready to talk to you, consider acting as your prospects’ guide while their buyer journey continues, helping them to get educated around their purchase decision, so they feel like your company is the safe decision. Finally, you have to take great care of those new customers, and you have to delight them so they tell everyone about your company. Do that and you’ll be rewarded with a steady stream of revenue.
Now that might sound easy, but you have to do it at scale. This means it’s not enough for one person to be working like this. Your entire sales, marketing and customer services organization has to embrace these principles and change the way they execute all aspects of marketing, sales and service.
But we still have to execute marketing, sales and customer service playbooks. How do we know what to do and when to do it? How do we determine what’s going to produce the desired results? To help, we created a new journey graphic that we think better illustrates today’s prospect journey.
Take a look as we describe why this fits better today than the old traditional funnel.
First, you’ll notice that the new buyer journey isn’t linear. It doesn’t start at the top and flow down to the bottom to finish. In our opinion, the series of cycles means each stage includes a set of experiences.
If you do a good job in the awareness cycle, then you might move your prospect out and into the education cycle. If you don’t, your prospect might get stuck in that awareness cycle until additional information is provided or outside influences cause the prospect to progress. More on those influences in the next section.
Our research shows that in most cases, prospects move from cycle to cycle not in sequence but based on the environmental factors that influence them along their journey. Some of those factors include how you market to them, how your sales teams work with them and how your customer service reps take care of customers.
This explains why some prospects progress quickly and others progress more slowly. This means your content, website and lead nurturing work must be highly effective, data driven and perfectly designed based on your understanding of your prospects’ persona, pains and journey insights.
Also, you should notice the cycle that wraps around after the final decision. You have amazing opportunities to work with customers and introduce new products/services or project opportunities. You have an opportunity to upgrade the communication and how you incentivize them to be your advocate. After the sale is done, the process has to continue. The cycles continue to spin. The bigger cycle always spins.
What you don’t see in this graphic is that factors inside and outside of your control impact these cycles. While your prospect might be moving along quickly, when they go dark, are slow to respond or reach out with contradictory feedback, it’s likely that one of these outside influences is now affecting their ability to move through the series of cycles.
While you are not in control of these outside influences, you have to be smart enough to give the prospect an opportunity to share those inputs with you, so you can respond accordingly.
The biggest challenge is the sheer amount of information available to your prospects during their journey. They’re going to be confused, and that confusion slows down your process. You might not be aware that the CIO is now active in influencing your prospect’s decision. You didn’t identify the CIO and didn’t ask about their involvement, but now they are slowing down your prospect’s journey. You need your champion or contact person to give you that information, so you can adjust accordingly and then build into your process a point to make sure you don’t get caught unprepared again.
Your job is to position your company as the trusted source, your sales team as the guides and your service reps as advisors. If you do this well, all of that conflicting information will come back to you through your prospect, and you can help them work through that info and keep them moving forward.