How to Use a Customer Journey Map to Boost Your Sales Team’s Performance
In today's marketplace, a positive customer experience plays a critical role in customer acquisition and retention. But did you know it can also determine how well your sales team performs?
According to a Salesforce study, 80% of customers value their interactions with your company as much as your product, and another 86% are willing to pay more for a good customer experience, according to PWC. Treat them badly once, and 49% of them will leave.
By implication, even if you have a fantastic product, a poor customer experience can cost you a lot of business. To avoid that, you need a practical customer journey map for your sales team, especially since they’re the most frequent touchpoint for customers.
This post will guide you through everything you need to build a practical customer journey map from scratch. But before we get into it, let’s discuss the definition of a customer journey map and why your sales team must have one.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map clearly outlines the customer’s demographics, needs, pain points, touchpoints, and motivations for either continuing with your business or going with the competition. Armed with this knowledge, your sales team can devise the best strategies for reducing friction points and maximizing opportunities.
Generally speaking, a customer journey has five stages, which are as follows:
- Awareness: A customer becomes aware of a problem and becomes aware of your product or service as a possible solution. This could be via an ad, a social media post, an organic search, a PR mention, and so on.
- Consideration and alternatives evaluation: They're making a decision and weighing your product against potential alternatives.
- Purchase: They've decided to buy your product or service at this point.
- Retention: Customer retention occurs when a customer becomes a loyal customer and makes recurring purchases.
- Advocacy: If they’re happy with your brand, they may promote it on social media and among their friends and family. Although most customers don’t get to this stage, the value is inestimable.
Here's a good example of a customer advocating for a brand:
Everyone in SaaS should be learning from @PostscriptIO and their CSM strategy.— Eli Weiss (@eliweisss) February 9, 2023
No bullshit sales pitches, just great customer support and a strong focus on helping brands crush sms as a channel.
It’s been a min, but stoked to be back on the postscript train with JRB.❤️🔥
As you can see, this customer isn't only thankful for their service, but also for excellent customer support. And that’s what you should be aiming for.
To return to what we were saying, an inability to see the levers that move your customers from one stage to another will limit the selling power of your sales team and may have a negative impact on your bottom line.
But that’s not all. Other benefits of customer journey mapping for sales teams are:
- Improved customer understanding: A customer journey map provides a comprehensive view of the customer experience, allowing sales teams to better understand their target audience's needs, pain points, and motivations.
- Enhanced empathy: From the knowledge provided by the journey map, sales teams can develop a deeper sense of empathy for their customers and a better understanding of their perspectives by visualizing the customer experience.
- Improved sales strategy: Customer journey mapping assists sales teams in identifying opportunities to improve the customer experience, streamline processes, and optimize sales interactions.
- Increased customer satisfaction: Sales teams can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by addressing customer pain points and providing a seamless customer experience from first touch to purchase and onboarding.
- Improved collaboration: Customer journey mapping can be a collaborative exercise involving cross-functional teams such as sales, marketing, customer service, and product development. This can promote departmental collaboration and teamwork.
- Increased efficiency: When your sales team understands how customers come to a purchase decision, they can focus their efforts on the moments that matter—bringing their sales superpowers to work in the stages where they’ll have the biggest impact.
What to Include in a Customer Journey Map
When it comes to what goes into a customer journey map, nothing is cast in stone.
Take the SaaS industry, for example. The Pirate Funnel, a customer journey mapping technique specific to SaaS, has evolved into numerous variations over the years. But the foundational framework remains the same. Everyone just builds out of it what works for them.
So, as we discuss the basic components of any customer journey map, remember that you can adjust them as you see fit.
Outline the Buying Process
While customers often follow a predictable pattern, the nuances will vary from company to company and from context to context. You must understand and outline what customers' buying process looks like for your organization.
For example, we all know that "awareness" is the first stage of a buyer’s journey, and “consideration” is usually the second. But what if your brand is so popular that the majority of your customers start at the consideration stage?
Household names like Netflix and Amazon come to mind here. Many of their customers had known about them for a long time before deciding to try them out.
Or what if you’re targeting existing customers, and this particular customer journey map needs to start after the post-purchase phase? And how do you move them on to the next stage once the process has been kicked off?
By outlining their buying process.
Here is an example of what that might look like:
After outlining their buying process, you should include what actions customers will take to move forward, as well as what roles your company needs to play in making those actions seamless.
For example, if a user finds your website through an organic search and ends up on your website, that’s the first touchpoint (action taken) in their awareness stage.
You need to find out what other steps they’re going to take before moving on to the next stage and include that in your map.
Will they contact your sales representatives, read more blog posts on your website, or sign up for a free trial? Knowing all these will allow you to take a look at every possible interaction and ensure everything is working well.
Another important component you should note in your customer journey map is the overarching emotions that customers will feel at different touchpoints.
This can range from excitement to frustration, worry, and satisfaction. Identifying them beforehand can help you minimize negative emotions and maximize the positive ones.
For example, having a slow payment option will cause frustration during a purchase. But writing it down on the map will allow the salespeople to devise a permanent fix or find a way to incentivize the customer to carry on regardless.
Customer pain points mainly come from two sources:
- The ones that brought them to your doorstep in the first place
- The ones they’ll encounter while interacting with your brand
For example, if they left a competitor due to hidden charges, you should note it down in your customer journey map so that you can reassure them that you’re different.
And if your product has a steep learning curve, that might cause some hesitation in adopting it fully. By including it in your journey map, you will be able to alleviate this pain and move the customer further down the pipeline.
However, these are two distinct types of pain that should be addressed in separate journey maps.
Solutions to the Pain Points
The end goal of all your efforts is to find solutions to your customer's pain points.
To do this, gather your team members to brainstorm and find answers.
For example, how will your sales team handle a customer's demand if they want a yearly pricing plan, but you only have a monthly package?
This is one of the pain points that you’d have foreseen when putting your customer journey map together, and a brainstorming session with your team is where you find the answer to it.
Ready to start building your own customer journey map?
How to Create a Customer Journey Map
Now that you know what a customer journey map should include, the next thing is to create one that’s specific to your customer's unique journey. So, how do you do that?
According to John MacDonald, a conversion rates optimization expert, “A customer journey map shows how customers interact with your brand from the customer’s perspective…”
The keyword here is customer perspective, and the idea is to meet customers' needs at every touchpoint and make amends where you may fall short.
Follow the steps below to build an effective customer journey map:
1. Set Goals and Objectives for the Map
Every business needs a customer journey map, but for different reasons. Speaking of goals and objectives, there are two major reasons why you may need a customer journey map:
- You’re trying to create an effective, predictable sales process for your sales team
- You’re trying to eliminate long-standing roadblocks in your sales process
It may also be targeted at new or existing customers. Or it could be something much more specific. Just be sure to state it clearly, along with the methodology for achieving it and the expected outcome.
You'll be running blind if you don't have clearly defined objectives, and you won't be able to tell whether your efforts are bearing fruit or not.
2. Select the Customer Groups You Want to Map
Customers' sales paths can vary greatly depending on what you sell, and what works for A may not work for B.
If you sell software as a service, for example, you may discover that enterprise-level buyers behave differently than SMEs (subject matter experts.) The challenges, requirements, and emotions will vary.
As a result of this diversity, you must classify them into different groups based on similarities in:
- Behavior: Each type of customer has a goal in mind
- Demographic: Age, occupation, education, race, gender, etc.
- Attitude: What are they saying, how do they feel, and how do they communicate?
- Channels: How do they interact? On what social media platforms do they hang out? Who do they follow?
- Offscreen behavior: What they'll likely be doing when you're not there, such as speaking with stakeholders in their company (in the case of B2B) or inquiring about your product with their families and coworkers
This is known as the buyer persona, or ideal customer profile. Create distinct groups of customer personas and separate customer maps for each. If you uncover too many personas in your buyers, it is best to start with two or three of them, as too many groups will put your salespeople under strain.
Grouping customers into different categories like this will shape how you approach your map and whether one map is sufficient or many are required.
3. Gather Customer Data from Multiple Sources
To make step two above truly meaningful, you must go scientific by collecting customer data from multiple sources.
Data will provide you with important insights about your customers and also validate your assumptions about how users progress through your sales funnel.
Here are some examples of data sources from which you can obtain the information you need:
The best way to learn about customers is to ask them. You can solicit feedback from them through social media, or you can use Net Promoter Score (NPS) to assess their overall feelings about their interaction with your brand.
But, since we're looking for specifics, it's best if you just find a way to get them to write down their experience. This direct communication with your customers is the absolute best way to get this information—don’t underestimate it.
Sales and Support Teams
No one knows the customers better than the sales team. They are the ones who interact with them, listen to their complaints, and handle their objections. You should speak with reps to gain important insights into customer behavior.
CRM software, such as Close, is a goldmine for customer data. This is because all customer touchpoints, from the first to the last, are meticulously documented.
For example, in Close you can see a clear, simplified history of every interaction with a customer, including phone calls, emails, SMS, and other custom activities your team creates.
Customer Review Sites, Social Media, and Other Channels
You can also learn a lot about customers by reading their reviews on review sites such as G2 and Trustpilot, as well as on social media platforms where many discussions take place.
Talk to Your Company's Stakeholders
Speaking with your company's marketing, finance, and product teams can also provide valuable insights. Each of them has a different experience with the customer, and their insights can be extremely useful.
4. Identify Customer Pain Points During the Buying Process
Data is meaningless unless it’s translated into an action plan that drives a business goal. To do that, though, you need to analyze all the data you’ve collected and use it to identify customer pain points.
It is important to understand your customers' needs and preferences in order to develop solutions to meet those needs.
But let’s put that in context. Here are steps to identify customer pain points and translate them into an action plan:
- Examine all data points to spot recurring complaints, trends, and patterns and assess customer satisfaction with your brand
- Analyze customer behavior on your website to identify areas where customers are leaving or experiencing issues
- Based on the frequency and severity of customer complaints, prioritize the pain points. This will allow you to concentrate on the most pressing issues first
- Look into your competitor's products via the customers’ lens to identify any gaps or pain points in their offerings that you could address
Most importantly, align your findings with touchpoints, or where exactly the customers are experiencing problems.
For example, if slow payment is an issue, it's understandable that it occurs during the purchase stage. The solution would be to find an alternative payment method or find another way for your team to assist with the payment.
Some pain points, on the other hand, can only be managed through proper communication and demonstrating value to customers.
Case in point: If your product has a steep learning curve because it has more features than others, you can show how critical those features are to their goals.
5. Create the Customer Journey Map for Each Persona
This is the stage where you compile everything you've learned and the data you’ve collected into an actionable diagram that your sales team can view and implement.
Here is a good customer journey map example:
In the image above, you can see there’s a lot of specifics on the customer journey, stages, touchpoints, emotions, and so on. What makes this so powerful is the fact that it isn’t generic but super detailed and explicit.
The Spotify team that created this understood the typical user's journey, what actions they’d take precisely and at what point, and the emotions that’d govern each action.
Consider the first element of the diagram, the stages. They knew where the customer's first touchpoint would be: on the phone, and they optimized for it.
However, if you look at the second stage, you'll notice that they tag it "listen" rather than "consideration." This also shows that the map's primary target is mostly existing customers rather than new ones.
When developing the customer journey map for your organization, that’s the level of precision and personalization you should aim for.
Once you’ve put something like this together, you’re almost there.
6. Take the Customer Journey Yourself
Customer mapping isn’t a set-and-forget activity. You might have truly deployed the best strategy and added everything that you should to the map, but to know if everything is working as expected, you have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
In other words, walk the path you set for your customers and see what works and what doesn't.
Examine the tools and guides you've provided. Review your sales enablement content to see if it truly adds value. Check the links to ensure that none of them is broken. Check the user experience of your site and ensure that the navigation isn’t confusing.
In summary, go over each step to ensure that everything is working properly.
7. Improve Your Customer Journey Map
No matter how carefully planned your customer journey map is, it’s still a mere hypothesis until it’s been tested in a real-life scenario. "No plan survives contact with the enemy," as the saying goes, is a timeless truth that also applies to business.
This is why you should keep tabs on how your customers are feeling and iterate from time to time. You'll have plenty of room for improvement, and that’s perfectly normal.
The most important thing is to take customer feedback and apply them to the map as you progress.
3 Types of Customer Journey Maps
Depending on your verticals, you may need only one type of customer journey map or different types.
Whatever your needs are, you’ll find your ideal customer journey map in the three types listed below.
Current State Journey Map
A current state journey map is used to improve your current sales process. This can be accomplished through customer research aimed at identifying and filling gaps in the customer experience.
It isn’t your customer's responsibility to inform you if something isn't working properly in your process. Instead, they may decide to leave and seek another option. The goal of a current state journey map is to improve your current process and avoid losing customers.
Future State Map
A future journey map is used as a roadmap to deal with customers' interactions with a product that doesn’t yet exist. It can also be used to predict how your customers will react to new changes in your business.
The goal is to be able to predict an ideal customer journey in the future, whether for a new product or significant changes to existing ones.
Day-in-the-life Customer Journey Map
A day-in-the-life customer journey map is the type that examines your customers' daily activities outside of their interactions with your company.
It tries to understand unmet customer needs and find ways to personalize relationships with them while taking what they do in their daily lives into account.
Customer Journey Map Template
If you haven’t used a customer journey map before, you don’t have to wing it. You can build on the success of others and personalize it to help you move quickly.
This is where the customer journey map template comes in handy. The idea behind using a template is to build on something that’s worked for others until you can develop your own.
Rather than creating one from scratch, a good template will provide you with a framework you can build on, allow your team members to contribute by enabling collaboration, and ensure that you’re consistent with the industry's best practices.
Want a head start? Download our free customer journey map template.
Customer Journey Mapping Can Keep Your Pipeline Healthy
To keep your customers happy and drive them to a long-term business relationship with you, you must understand and meet their needs. With the statistics cited in the introduction to this post, the lesson is that even one mistake can result in customer loss these days.
A customer journey map gives your sales team everything they need to succeed in preventing customer loss and, thus, profit loss. We've covered the nuts and bolts of customer journey mapping in this post, and we hope you found it useful.
In case you’re looking for a CRM that’ll boost your sales team’s productivity, try Close, a sales CRM and automation tool, for free for 14 days.