Expert Advice: A 9-Step Guide to the Buyer’s Journey

There are plenty of ways to look at the buyer’s journey, and a number of stages you can break that journey down into depending on which model you’re using. One of my favorite ways to look at the buyer’s journey was discussed by Ken Krogue, Founder and President of InsideSales, in a webinar earlier this year.

Why did his model stand out? Because unlike many views of the buyer’s journey, Krogue’s model relies on three different types of nurturing carried out by the marketing and sales teams: social nurturing, lead nurturing, and prospect nurturing. Using a combination of nurturing techniques, these two teams can speed up the time it takes for a prospect to go from awareness to interest to need.

According to Krogue, before the traditional lead nurturing process can begin, there must be a stage devoted to social nurturing, which uses social media and PR to generate awareness and interest. Combined with lead nurturing, which is carried out by your marketing team, and prospect nurturing, which is handled by sales, social nurturing ensures that you’re nurturing your entire funnel — not just your leads.

“Marketing’s job is to educate interest into need. Sales’ job is to validate need into closure,” said Krogue of the teamwork involved in the nurturing process.

This three-stage model is broken down even further by Krogue to incorporate the different questions and obstacles that buyers must overcome in order to reach the decision phase. Let’s take a look at the full process, along with Krogue’s recommendations for an improved marketing and sales process that caters to the needs and habits of today’s buyers.

Social Nurturing

Step 1. Awareness

Question to answer: “Who are you?”

At the very beginning of the buyer’s journey, you’re trying to answer the following question: “how do I know I’m interested if I don’t know you exist?” This stage is all about creating an awareness of your company through the use of PR, social media, general awareness content (typically focused around the questions ‘Did you know?’ and ‘Have you heard?’), and media coverage.

Step 2. Curiosity

Question to answer: “What do you do?”

If you’ve done step one correctly, your buyers should want to know more about your company and what you do. Use industry research, top-of-the-funnel content like “how-to’s,” positive reviews, and continued social messaging to build intrigue.

Lead Nurturing

Step 3. Interest

Question to answer: “Why is what you do important?”

By step three, two things should be happening: you’ve hopefully piqued your buyers’ interest, and marketing should be getting more hands-on with targeted lead nurturing. Start letting your buyers know why what you do is important by getting more topic and keyword-specific. Focus on key features, benefits, and broad case studies that apply to your buyer’s pain points and needs.

Step 4. Understanding

Question to answer: “How does it work?”

It’s time to start diving into more product-specific messaging at this stage of nurturing. Cater your content and conversations to specific pain points and job titles, and don’t be afraid to move away from social and PR messaging into targeted email content in order to better explain why your product is the best solution for those needs.

Step 5. Relevance

Question to answer: “Does what you do matter to me?”

So your buyers understand what you do — why is it relevant to them? This stage is about making conversations more personal by tailoring specific offerings to your buyers’ needs. Use proof metrics, case studies, and testimonials from companies in the same industry with similar needs to strengthen your pitches, and make sure you’re adjusting your messaging to the specific decision makers involved in the buying process. As your buyers start to show buying signals, begin passing them to sales to start the prospect nurturing process.

Prospect Nurturing

Step 6. Need

Question to answer: “Would what you do work for us?”

This is when your buyers realize that they have a need for a product like yours, and are generally evaluating different vendors. That’s why it’s so important to get your sales team involved to move the lead toward closure. Start talking more specifically about how your product could be a solution to their problems, ask questions in order to really hone in on their unique needs, and leverage industry-specific case studies to show commonalities.

Step 7. Validation

Question to answer: “Can you prove that it will really work?”

You can say that your product will work all you want, but your buyers are going to want proof that they can float up to upper management. The validation phase will focus on proving your credibility through endorsements, references, statistics, product demonstrations, and competitive evaluations. Keep in mind: a positive testimonial can go a long way!

Step 8. Urgency

Question to answer: “When can we get it going?”

At the urgency stage, your sales team will want to focus their messaging on operations, specifically targeting the Sales Engineer or CIO — whoever will be handling the implementation. Remember that immediacy is important at this stage, and be sure to set milestones and deadlines to stay on track.

Step 9. Closure

Question to answer: “Moving ahead, what does this look like?”

You’ve done it — you’ve reached the closure stage! The focus is now on planning and goal-setting, and conversations should revolve around strategy questions and the benefits of ownership. According to Krogue, the important thing at this stage is to move along as if your buyers already own your product.

With the above nurturing process in place, handled simultaneously by sales and marketing, you can accelerate your pipeline and cut down on tedious tasks like cold calling. Want more information? View the full presentation deck and recording here.

And, don’t forget to view our interactive buyer journey microsite by clicking on the banner below!