How aligning to the customer journey enhances your sales process.
Nothing really is more important to mapping your sales process, than understanding the customer journey. Now I know that term “customer journey” has been pretty buzzy, particularly since the pandemic struck. But when you really spend some time and unpack what is under the bonnet of that term, it’s really important. As a matter of fact, it’s critical.
In today’s selling environment, we need to recognise that the full customer experience shapes every touchpoint within it. This experience begins way back when your customer first has a problem that they know needs solving. It also continues long after the purchase has been made, in the way your customer feels about the experience while they’re in it, and after it’s over.
Hit play on the audio, or keep reading below, to find out more about understanding the customer journey, and how critical to your sales process it can be.
The customer journey explained.
For those of you who are not aware, the customer journey in my view is really the complete sum of every experience that a customer may go through when they are interacting with your company and the brand. Typically, many of us in sales used to look at just the transaction part of the experience. However, the customer journey, when handled correctly, should document the full experience. The customer journey looks at a couple of different phases rather than just purchase.
The customer journey typically looks at five aspects:
- Awareness. Where we work to make a potential customer aware of your brand. At this stage, a potential customer generally has a problem, but may not know about your solution.
- Consideration. The customer moves to a stage of actively researching and comparing different options to address their needs or desires. They compare products, read reviews, and gather information to make an informed decision.
- Purchase. At this stage, a decision to buy is made and the sale occurs. They officially become a customer.
- Retention. Your company continues to nurture the customer relationship, deliver quality and support on an ongoing basis with a view to continuing engagement and creating a customer for life.
- Advocacy. Here’s where satisfied customers turn into brand advocates who actively refer other people.
Mapping out your customer journey is absolutely critical and will lead to overlaying a customer-centric sales approach which will increase your win rate.
It includes much more than what happens at the point of sale.
Take the common example of searching for a new internet provider, for instance. Before we make a purchase, we probably conduct some research online to determine what we actually need and what is available to us. We may already have problems with our internet that our current provider doesn’t solve. So, we may be looking for ways a new provider can solve them. Those parameters help us narrow down our search. We may also ask around and get some recommendations based on our needs. We may test a few providers out at the pointy end. We may go forward with a plan based on the good experience we have at the purchase stage. However, we all know that it doesn’t end there.
A critical aspect of what we determine our experience to be is how our interactions go after the provider has us on their plan. A positive experience here makes us more likely to stick with the provider and importantly, to recommend them to others.
Signs of misalignment with the customer journey
Sometimes when sales are not consistently where they should be, it’s worth asking if the business is truly aligned with the customer journey. Here are some telltale signs at the pointy end that you may need to work on this aspect:
- Inter-departmental complaints and arguments on a consistent basis (for instance, between marketing and sales, or sales and service).
- Leads are largely uneducated about your solution
- Objections are numerous at the point of purchase
- Win rates are low
- Customer complaints are high
- Refunds and cancellations are up
- Customer retention is low
- Repeat business is down
Attuning to and anticipating your customer’s needs will increase sales.
A sales process aligned with the customer journey paves the way for better customer relationships over the long term. That’s because the process examines the impact of every interaction your customer has with your company over time. It looks at the full experience from the customer’s viewpoint.
According to a survey by Salesforce, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. In fact, 91% of those polled say they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase after a positive experience, and 71% say they’ve made a purchase decision based on experience quality.
So, every department, including sales, becomes integral in delivering that great experience for the customer. And every department has a contribution to make to the sales process.
Remember, it’s not one singular transaction that sticks with your customer. It’s certainly not that great sales pitch. It’s the way the overall experience with your brand (aka the customer journey) made them feel.
Sales is never an island, and it’s always imperative we integrate the whole experience for the best results – for your business and your customer.
Do you need to work the customer journey into your sales process?
If you’re working on your sales process (or intend to), what are the key components you need to step through in a customer-centric approach?
Here’s a great worksheet to help you consider more of your customer journey when defining your sales process.
Hope it’s helpful to you.