5 Steps That Will Change How You Think About the Customer Journey


Customers sign big deals when they are provided with a clear and decisive financial case for change. Keep the pipeline moving and revenue on track by developing an earlier, deeper, more concrete understanding of what your customers really need. In this article, Rebecca White, vice president of marketing, Databook, answers why the customer journey matters to enterprise sales.

Sales teams are familiar with the idea of the customer journey. That’s the progression of a prospect from determining a pain point to soliciting solutions, reviewing vendors, and ultimately purchasing and implementing a product or service.

The problem is that the traditional customer journey is often predicated on a misconception-that is to say, buyers tend to mistake the symptoms of their pain for the root cause. As a result, the solutions they express interest in and ultimately purchase aren’t always equipped to address real underlying issues, either conceptually or technically. And that means problems persist, projected value never materializes, and customer adoption rates sag. Compounding this problem is the fact that sales reps aren’t able to course-correct, because they’re just as blind to underlying problems and instead allow buyers to dictate what they think will cure their woes.

Learn More: 10 Must-haves for your Brand Crisis Response Toolkit: Lessons from Covid-19Opens a new window

The good news is that you can alter this journey to keep deals moving and revenue on track. The key is achieving an earlier, deeper, and more concrete understanding of what customers really need. Here are five steps to making that happen.

1. First, Realize That Your Data Needs Help

If you’re like most companies, your sales organization relies on data to drive deals. But are you getting the greatest insight from that data? Are you even getting all the data that’s out there? Probably not.

The sheer quantity of business information available today, coupled with the extensive nature of how that information is disseminated, makes manual compilation, let alone analysis, a nearly impossible task. That’s why truly powerful insight can best be derived through automation and artificial intelligence. The first thing you need is technology that can do the heavy lifting and filter through the noise, so you can see what’s really going on in your prospects’ businesses well before you pick up a phone.

2. Leverage Data to Prioritize the Right Accounts

In the typical customer journey, many sales reps prioritize prospects based on arbitrary numbers like company size, or perhaps because companies have issued RFPs that seem to correlate with what you offer. The issue with both of these approaches is that they’re often built on speculation-not fact. We just assume that large companies are good targets for enterprise system sales, for example, or that a company looking to purchase a specific solution actually needs that solution. None of these things, however, is necessarily true.

With AI-powered data analysis, you can systematically search vast amounts of company data for specific keywords that you know have relevance to your products or services. You can track purchasing cycles and historical data on solutions currently in play. You can determine whether a superficial issue might actually be the result of a deeper problem that needs addressing before conclusions can be realized. Then you can prioritize your accounts using concrete evidence of how your offerings factor into a company’s known challenges, timing, history, and budget. The difference here is that you take control of how the customer journey begins, and you do so based on data-driven intelligence.

3. Know Who to Deal With, Where Their Urgency Lies, and When to Engage

Traditionally, sales reps engage with the contacts whose information they can easily access or whose job titles indicate they make decisions or have purchasing power. This is another common misstep on the customer journey that results from a lack of insight, and that frequently costs a great deal of time and effort.

Closing a deal does ultimately require a decision-maker, but it’s often smarter and faster to start with a person who has demonstrated urgency. Even better, start with a top-tier executive who has expressed both urgency and intent to purchase. AI-powered technology can let you easily scour months of communications and analyst reports to pinpoint who’s saying what regarding company plans and how soon they intend to act. Bottom line: If you start with the squeaky wheel, you waste less grease.

4. Craft a Personalized Approach That Speaks to Real Results

Here’s where having deep insight can really move mountains. Think of an AI-powered data analysis tool as something that opens up a window to the true perspective of your prospects. When you can effectively filter the signal from the noise, you can finally begin to understand what your potential customer responds to, how they think, what they need, and what financial outcome might make a case for change. Then you can present in a manner that speaks directly to that perspective, citing the business results that meet their objectives, sync with their purchasing cycles, and solve the root cause of their issues.

Learn More: What Food Delivery Can Teach Marketers in the Face of COVID-19Opens a new window

5. Be Sure Your Process is Efficient, Sustainable, and Scalable

Of course, AI-powered customer intelligence is just a segment of the customer journey. Closing deals quickly and repeatedly to exceed quotas means having the tools in place to accelerate your process across an entire sales organization. Make sure that you don’t leverage data at the cost of efficiency. You need technology that’s easy to use, easy to roll out, and that automates as much as possible-including things like creating customized sales decks on the fly. The simpler you can make it to apply new insight into your daily tasks, the more success you’ll see.

To gain a competitive edge, enterprise sales reps need concrete data insights into their customers’ true problems, their levels of urgency, and the financial case for change – all in advance of their first prospect engagement. This approach has the potential to vastly change the customer journey, as all subsequent decisions will flow from that initial, more well-informed engagement. Arming reps with AI-powered customer intelligence, therefore, is vital to elevating both productivity and performance.