We’re on a road to somewhere – Are you lost ?

Journey

Are you losing customers before you have even had the chance to win them? Access to the vast amount of content available on the Internet means that today’s buyer is now better informed and more readily able to research the solutions to their needs and determine who they will purchase from.

Confronting this reality, there is a growing chorus of authors writing about the urgent need for organisations to create “customer journey maps” irrespective of whether your business is involved in B2B or B2C procurement.  So what is a customer journey map and why should you do one?

Growing up, a journey was what we took as a family during school holidays. It often started at 5:30am with the current family favourite audio cassette loaded and playing loud as we drove off, the sunrise glow flush on our faces, excited by the promise of the holiday adventure to come.

Also a map was something we were given on Cadet Camp for the obligatory navigational exercise, think 30 school boys wandering around lost in the Australian bush. “Do we add or subtract for magnetic north, where is North, I think we are here, no way we are here look at how close those contour lines are, the marker must be around here somewhere” In the end it was easier to sit down and eat our ration-pack chocolate and wait for a teacher to find us.

Business to Business procurement is undergoing a radical transformation. The traditional interruption marketing approach to sales is no longer effective. Today a much savvier and well researched prospective client has carried out extensive investigation and believes they know what they need and want before a sales person even enters the equation. The truth of this fundamental change in the way buyers make their purchasing decisions can be confronting to traditional sales organisations as highlighted in a recent McKinsey article:

“Seasoned executives and sales leaders often struggle to accept the reality that long standing “truths” about how to serve customers no longer applies”

If you are in the business of providing products and / or services to other businesses then it is vital that you understand the changing dynamic of B2B procurement. How do your prospective customers go about making their purchasing decision for your products and services? Also, and in some sense even more importantly, what do your current customers value about the services you provide them and what do you have to do to ensure that they stay as your customers? It is a long recognised truism of business that It is significantly many times more expensive to have to go out and win brand new customers than it is to retain the ones you already have.

The process of stopping to stake stock and methodically mapping out how your prospects buy, how your customers engage, in short mapping out their purchasing journey is not a luxury any longer. In this age of global competition, where start-ups are popping up like mushrooms with a website and a 3D printer or an ‘uber’ smart idea, businesses that want to grow, let alone survive, must make it a priority to understand their customer purchasing journey. For business this is as critical as determining the correct magnetic declination when navigating off a map out in the bush. If you don’t do it you are lost!

If you would like to know more about understanding which touch points your customers prefer for interacting with you, or how they come to a purchasing decision, I can recommend Phil Winters new book “The Customer IMPACT agenda

About Joel Dawson. 
Joel Dawson is an IT professional with over 30 years of experience across sales and delivery and has held a range of senior roles scoping and selling solutions to government and business customers over the past 30 years. He is also not actually that bad at navigation.

Kindle version of Phil’s book can be found on Amazon.com

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