The customer journey is a process that begins when a potential customer becomes aware of your business. It continues through various stages until they become loyal customers or decide to part ways (churn).
But why is this journey so critical? Here's what the data tells us: According to McKinsey, aligning with the customer journey can lead to a 15-20% increase in customer satisfaction. Understanding and optimising this journey is critical to success.
So, let's explore these stages together and see how each plays a vital role in building strong customer relationships and driving business growth.
Stages of the customer journey
According to Google, 71% of B2B buyers start their journey with a generic search. For potential customers, this Awareness stage is about discovery and exploration. They identify their needs and seek solutions, often encountering various brands for the first time. Your business's presence in this stage is pivotal.
It's where you need to capture their attention with effective SEO, targeted marketing, and proactive outbound sales efforts. This stage is about making that critical first impression and positioning your solution as a relevant and compelling option in the potential customer's search for answers. To gauge the effectiveness of your strategies in this initial phase, focus on these key performance indicators:
Traffic: Measures the volume of visitors to your website or landing pages.
Conversion Rate: Tracks the percentage of visitors who take a desired action.
Qualified Leads: Counts leads that meet specific criteria indicating potential for sales.
By nurturing your awareness efforts and monitoring these KPIs, you can become visible to potential customers, paving the way for the next stage in the customer journey - Education.
In the Education stage, your prospects seek to deepen their knowledge about potential solutions to their challenges. This phase is less about selling and more about informing, where your role is to provide valuable, in-depth information that addresses their specific needs and pain points. Through educational content like whitepapers, webinars, and detailed product guides, you help prospects understand how your solution can solve their problems.
From a business perspective, this stage is crucial for establishing your brand as a trusted advisor and thought leader in your industry. Your outbound sales activities should align with this approach, focusing on nurturing leads with informative content and consultative communication rather than direct selling. Forrester reports that 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
To effectively measure your impact in this stage, keep an eye on these key metrics:
Content Engagement: Tracks how prospects interact with your educational materials.
Lead Quality: Assesses the relevance and potential of leads engaging with your content.
Information Request Rate: Measures the frequency of inquiries or requests for more information.
By effectively educating your prospects, you build trust and credibility, paving the way for a smoother transition to the Selection stage, where they begin to evaluate your solution against others.
In the Selection stage, prospects evaluate and compare available options, making critical decisions about which solution best meets their needs. This is where the rational appeal of your product's features and ROI figures, combined with the emotional impact it offers, becomes crucial. Customers are looking for a solution that solves their problem efficiently and resonates with them on a personal or organisational level.
Gartner found that 77% of B2B buyers stated that their latest purchase was very complex, so businesses that efficiently communicate the impact of their products to the right stakeholders will win. Your sales team should focus on providing clear, quantifiable impacts and appealing to the emotional needs of the decision-makers.
To ensure you're on the right track in this decisive phase, focus on these key metrics:
Decision Rate: Measures the rate at which prospects make a decision post-evaluation.
Win Rate: Tracks the percentage of opportunities that convert into sales.
Customer Feedback: Gauges prospect responses, providing insights into their decision factors.
Navigating the Selection stage successfully is critical to turning prospects into customers. With a clear understanding of your product's rational and emotional benefits, you can guide them towards the next phase - Onboarding.
In the Onboarding stage, the focus shifts from acquisition to customer experience. This is where you set the tone for the long-term relationship with your new customer. Effective onboarding is crucial, as a TSIA report indicates that 70% of customers say their loyalty is influenced by how well a company onboards them. This stage ensures customers understand how to use your product to its fullest potential, maximising their perceived value and satisfaction.
From a business perspective, onboarding is your opportunity to reinforce the customer's decision to choose your product. It involves educating them about the product, providing necessary training, and addressing initial concerns. This stage is critical for reducing churn and establishing customer growth and advocacy. In the Onboarding stage, as you guide new customers in utilising your product effectively, it's essential to track their progress and satisfaction with these key performance indicators:
Time to First Value (TTFV): Measures how quickly new customers can achieve their first success with your product.
Onboarding Satisfaction: Gauges customer satisfaction with the onboarding process.
Initial Usage Metrics: Tracks how new customers use your product during the early stages.
A smooth and effective onboarding process is essential for transitioning customers into the next stage - Impact, where they see your product's value and benefits in action.
The focus is on the tangible benefits and value customers get from using your product. As Jacco always puts it, “recurring revenue is a result of recurring impact”. This highlights the vital role of recurring impact: consistent, positive outcomes from your product are essential for sustaining and increasing recurring revenue.
From a business perspective, this stage is about exceeding customer expectations. Regular reviews of the mutual success plans and health scoring are key activities. These processes ensure that the product is not just meeting but surpassing the goals you and your customers set. It's a crucial time for cementing customer loyalty and identifying opportunities for upselling. To effectively measure success in this stage, consider these key performance indicators:
Customer Usage Frequency: Tracks how often customers engage with your product.
Customer Health Score: Gauges overall satisfaction and engagement with your product.
Achievement of Mutual Success Plans: Monitors the milestones or objectives achieved using your product.
Consistently delivering impactful results is essential for nurturing customer loyalty and smoothly transitioning into the Growth stage, where customers increase their engagement and investment in your product.
Customers who have recognised the value of your product are ready for enhanced engagement. This phase is characterised by opportunities for account expansion, including upsells, cross-sells, and customer referrals. It reflects the success of your product in not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations.
Strategic account planning and whitespace planning are crucial in this stage. These approaches involve profoundly understanding the customer's business and identifying new areas where your product can provide additional value. Proper account planning aligns your offerings with the customer's growth, while whitespace planning uncovers new opportunities within existing accounts. Key metrics to track in this stage include:
Expansion Revenue: Reflects additional revenue from existing customers.
Adoption Rate of New Features: Indicates how customers embrace new features or products.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Represents the total revenue a customer contributes over their relationship with your company.
Effectively navigating the Growth stage with strategic account and whitespace planning is essential for sustaining a strong, long-term customer relationship. This approach lays the groundwork for the final phase - Churn, focusing on retention strategies and understanding customer turnover reasons.
Here, the focus shifts to understanding and managing customer turnover. This stage is crucial as it explains why customers discontinue your service or product. A study by Bain & Company suggests that a 5% reduction in customer churn can increase profits by 25% to 95%. This highlights the significant impact of churn on a business's bottom line. Effective management of this stage involves analysing churn reasons and implementing strategies to prevent future losses. It's about learning from lost customers and continuously improving your product and customer experience. Key metrics to track in this stage include:
Churn Rate: Measures the percentage of customers lost over a specific period.
Customer Feedback: Provides insights into reasons for churn.
Retention Cost: Assesses the cost involved in retaining customers and preventing churn.
Addressing the Churn stage is vital for maintaining a healthy customer base and improving your product and services. Insights gained here are invaluable for refining your approach in earlier stages of the customer journey.
Enhancing Customer Experience through B2B Sales Enablement
Optimising the customer journey in B2B sales hinges on two key elements: targeted sales team training and effective use of a CRM system. Training your sales team to be customer-centric ensures they are equipped to meet customer needs at every journey stage, from initial awareness to managing churn. This involves skills in understanding customer pain points, consultative selling, customer engagement, and retention strategies.
Complementing this, a robust CRM system provides invaluable insights into customer behaviours and preferences, enabling personalised interactions and data-driven decision-making. Together, these tools empower your sales team to meet and anticipate customer needs, enhancing satisfaction and loyalty at each journey stage and driving business growth through a deeper understanding of your customers.
Ready to constantly deliver value to your customers and grow your revenue? Revwit — a B2B Sales enablement platform — can connect you to trained and vetted talent to improve the quality of your sales team. And you can organise your customer data, team and processes in Revwit CRM so you can consistently make data-driven decisions and sell efficiently.