How did your first customer find you?
How did your best customer find you?
How did the customer that spends the most find you?
Or did you find them?
Founders know exactly how they acquired their first customers. They can probably tell you what that customer journey was like.
I’m betting that most CEOs can tell you what the customer acquisition process is but not what the customer journey is like.
Are you involved in your #customer’s buying journey? Or are you more removed than you should be? Find out here! Click to tweet
Now that your company has matured and grown, and you have hundreds if not thousands of customers, you are (and should be) further away from the day-to-day customer acquisition. As CEO, your role is to get involved only with the most important, prestigious, and strategic accounts.
The problem is you may be too removed from the customer journey and what it feels like to become your customer and remain a customer.
How Did They Find You?
Every conversation your salespeople have with a prospect is because the leaders in that company have a need. Maybe they want to fix a problem, avoid some trouble, improve something, hit a goal, or grow faster. They reached out because they want to learn if your solution is the best to help them do that. So how did they find your company to begin with?
Entry Point 1: Inbound
They found you. They most likely found you one of two ways. They asked their trusted colleagues for recommendations, or they Googled. Even if they asked for recommendations, the next thing they most likely did was Google, go to your website and look at your social media to learn what they could on their own.
What was that experience like? What did they find? When was the last time you researched your own company on the internet to see what that experience was like?
If they liked what they found and understood that your solution might be a fit, they scheduled a call with a salesperson.
Entry Point 2: Outbound
You found them. A concerted effort between sales and marketing by building a targeted list and systematically approaching the suspected decision-makers, which ended up in a conversation.
The content your team sent intrigued them, or the cold call message was engaging enough that they booked an appointment with a salesperson. Then they went to Google and researched to see what they could find about your company in the news, on your website, and social media. What was that experience like, and what did they find?
They Talked to A Salesperson
Either way, they talked to a salesperson. What was their experience talking with your salesperson?
I know you are aware of what that was like because occasionally, you listen.
Was it easy to find you? Was the conversation with the salesperson valuable and insightful? Was it intriguing enough to continue the conversation and move forward?
Or was it difficult?
As the CEO, whether you are 20 years in or just starting, you must put yourself in the customer’s shoes. This is something your CRO or senior sales leadership should be monitoring closely so that when you do take the time to do this, you find out your customers’ journey to you is a good one. It’s easy and worth the time spent.
The customer journey should be mapped and explained to everyone at your company who has an impact on it. That’s almost everyone.
Is it time for you to take your customer’s journey to find the solution you provide? (Don’t forget to look at your competitors as part of the journey because they are looking at you.)
It Was so Easy to Buy from You – NOT
For most complex B2B sales, the buying journey a customer takes is NOT one they would love to do all over again. You don’t typically hear, “It was so simple to buy from you.” or “Making this decision with my colleagues to purchase from you was fun and enjoyable.” (Imagine if you did, though.)
Buying is not easy. It requires research on the problem and potential solutions and discussions with the users and the decision-makers. Bringing people with many different agendas to consensus and determining all the logistics of deploying the solution. It’s downright fatiguing. So much so that buyers are making no decision rather than buying from you or your competitors. According to Gartner, all decision-makers have to go through each of the 4 stages and do it their own way in their own time.
This is why understanding your customer’s journey is so important. What is their experience? How can your team make it easier and less fatiguing? How can they help bring everyone to a consensus?
What’s the Customer Journey?
I’m oversimplifying below, as you can tell from the diagram above. But let’s keep it simple to get you started.
The first step to taking any customer’s journey is understanding how they first became aware of your solutions. In most cases, the customer was looking for something for a specific need. Understanding the words they might use to find you is important. If you found them, understanding what words got their attention and intrigued them enough to have a conversation is important. What other companies will those same words lead them to? If they are aware of you, are they aware of your competitors?
Once a customer is aware of your business, they’ll start weighing out their options. Are there competitors they’re comparing your solution to? Would they try to do the same in-house? What if they do nothing? Is your solution showing up as different or better than those choices? What makes your company stand out as they research and consider? How do you guide your customers to choose you?
Your customer is ready to make a decision; if they decide to go with your company, how do you help your customer know they’ve made the right choice? Does your customer success team provide excellent onboarding and continued support? Was there a seamless process to becoming your customer?
Many companies believe the customer journey ends once the initial contract is signed or an order is placed, but they are wrong. If you follow Jacco Van Der Kooij of Winning by Design, the journey continues. So you need to ensure when your team maps, they don’t stop at “purchase made.” Did you know it is 16X as costly to find a new customer than cultivate the loyalty of an existing customer? That’s why this part of the journey should be important to you. What is the journey like after the initial purchase is made?
It’s not enough for customers to stay. You want them to become loyal customers. What does your company do to make it easy for your customers to be your advocates? Do you make it easy for them to continue a relationship with you and tell others about how you help them? Are they willing to make introductions? What is this part of the journey like for them?
Talk to Your Customers
Take your customer’s journey yourself, and then have your Go To Market team (Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success) go through it and map it. Better yet, have them talk to your customers and learn.
They need to ask, “Take me back to when you first learned about our company and tell me about it.” Follow that with, “and then what?” and “how was that?” You can also hire a neutral party to do that for you, and I’d be happy to give you some recommendations.
If you want more on this topic, check out my conversation with my good friend Brian Carroll on The Expert Series of Sales Talk for CEOs. We talked about the customer journey and more. Listen to it here!