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Ali Parmelee

By Ali Parmelee

Nov 23, 2017


Inbound Marketing
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Inbound Marketing

How to Match Your Sales Process with the Buyer's Journey

Ali Parmelee

By Ali Parmelee

Nov 23, 2017

How to Match Your Sales Process with the Buyer's Journey

There are two ways to look at the sales process—a new way and an old way. The old way involves looking at sales as a way to make money or increase revenue. The new way is all about solving a problem on the buyer’s behalf.

The new way to look at sales—as a problem solver— means disarming the consumer and earning their trust enough to let them realize your product or service is something they need. This necessarily requires a good deal of empathy.

That’s why the most effective, holistic sales processes are rooted in an understanding of and alignment with the buyer’s journey.

What is the Buyer’s Journey?

In a nutshell, the buyer’s journey is the process would-be customers go through as they move through being a stranger to becoming a customer. 

There are three basic stages of the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness: This is where users first begin to realize that they have a problem or a need to be filled.
  • Consideration: The problem having been identified, the buyer is now researching the issue and possible solutions.
  • Decision: During the decision stage, prospects are more informed about their problem and its potential solutions, and are vetting specific options—such as your product or service.

A truly effective sales funnel is created to fit the needs of a company's buyers at each of these stages rather than trying to push leads to the sale according to an arbitrary internal process.

But how does that actually work? How do you match the sales process with the buyer’s journey?

Plan Content that Aligns with the Buyer’s Journey

Content is the backbone of any inbound marketing campaign. If that campaign is going to be effective, the content will be planned and built out to align with the buyer’s journey.

Create a content plan that looks at each of the three stages above, and craft material that provides genuinely useful information for prospects at each one.

Once your content is planned and created, you can begin to promote it using tactics like SEO and social media marketing to target your ideal buyer personas.

“A truly effective #sales funnel is created to fit into each stage of the #BuyersJourney” TWEET THIS

Implement a Drip Marketing Campaign

Content is great for gathering leads. But leads don’t turn into customers on their own. Most need to be nurtured—and the best way to nurture leads is with a drip marketing campaign.

Like content marketing materials, drip emails and custom workflows are most effective when they’re crafted to match up with the buyer’s journey.

Drip marketing workflows are particularly well-suited for mapping alongside the buyer’s journey. A series of conditions and triggers that deliver custom content and calls to action based on past user behavior, custom workflows use if/then logic to respond to users’ needs as immediately as possible.

This helps not only to shepherd leads down the sales funnel toward conversion, but also to make sure leads receive the right information as they move organically through their own buyer’s journey.

Keep Marketing and Sales on the Same Page

We’ve talked mostly about the marketing process so far, but it’s vitally important that sales not be left out of the loop.

Simply gathering leads and lobbing them towards your sales department with no information, context or insight is a bad way to approach the sales process. Not only does it lead to poor results, but it’s never good for office dynamics or job satisfaction. Nevertheless, lack of cohesion between sales and marketing has been cited by HubSpot as one of the most common challenges inbound teams face.

When marketing and sales work hand-in-hand, it makes for marketers that are more informed about their buyer personas and salespeople that have a better understanding of their prospects and where they’re coming from.

And that gets back to the core of why sales needs to align with the buyer’s journey in the first place—because leads and prospects aren’t just abstract buyer personas or lines on an email list. They’re real people with real needs. Any sales or marketing team who keeps that fact as the center of their processes has a huge advantage over those who don’t.

It's important to build a sales process that aligns with and continues the momentum from your inbound process. Legacy sales is getting harder to sustain. Inbound sales continues to keep the potential client's needs in mind by focusing on individual buyers, pain points, specific needs, goals and challenges. This is vastly different from putting your needs first or playing only a numbers game. Understanding potential clients' needs is critical to this new sales process and to staying ahead of a sales methodology that's becoming out of sync with buyers. 

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