What You Need to Know About B2B Customer Journey Mapping

March 22, 2024 | By Bogdan Bele (Guest Author)
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Remember how the account management team closed deals in the TV show "Mad Men"? They would take a prospective client out for dinner and drinks, a game of golf, or a hunting trip (ending in a health & safety disaster) and close a deal after a couple of face-to-face meetings. Well, B2B selling and buying are very different these days.

The B2B buying process is becoming increasingly omnichannel and more reliant on online content rather than face-to-face interaction. Like B2C customers, B2B customers expect an omnichannel, 24/7 experience. They want social proof, to find information online or on social media, and a consistent customer experience at every touchpoint. With so many touchpoints, keeping track of each one can be challenging. That’s where customer journey mapping comes in.

This guide will cover all you need to know about B2B customer journey mapping, including why you need one, the benefits, and how to create one. Let’s get started!

What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map includes all touchpoints and channels customers use when researching or interacting with the business. Your customer journey map includes touchpoints across multiple channels. In addition to traditional meetings and events, phone and mail, there are email, web, mobile apps, social media, ecommerce, video conferencing, webinars, live chat, search, online directories, and now AI.

B2B buying journey

Image sourced from Gartner

Why Map the Customer Journey?

Businesses use customer journey maps, in combination with buyer personas, to understand how easy it is for their customers to move through the buying funnel and what barriers to conversion exist and need addressing.

B2B buying journeys are more complex than B2C as the buying cycle is longer, the price tags are higher, and decision-making involves multiple channels, touchpoints, and stakeholders.

For example, a company selling web domain names will have different sales and marketing strategies for B2C customers buying basic services compared to B2B customers who invest in more complex solutions such as business emails or bulk registration.

Customer journey mapping aims to document the customer experience. The reality is that different departments usually work in silos, meaning that not everyone in the organization will have a clear view of the overall customer experience.

Mapping the customer journey allows businesses to see it holistically—all involved channels and touchpoints, the way their customers experience it. Having this view helps to gain customer insight, understand customer needs, and pinpoint the pain points that customers may be experiencing while researching and attempting to purchase your products.

The B2B Customer Journey Stages

The B2B customer journey, like any customer funnel, consists of four main stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Purchase
  • Retention

The customer starts by being aware of the problem. For example, a sales and marketing team may decide to improve the effectiveness of their lead generation and marketing campaigns. They notice they’re failing to gather useful data on their inbound calls.

Once the customer is aware of their problem, they move to the consideration stage—they research the available solutions. In our example, after research, they identified a call tracking for business tool as the best option for their circumstances.

The sales and marketing team works with various business teams to approve the solution, cost, and the provider. When the sale is complete, the solution provider works to retain the customer—provides excellent customer service, ensures products and services deliver on customer expectations, and offers a smooth customer experience.

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Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

The Customer Journey Mapping Process

To create the B2B customer journey map, an organization would typically go through the following steps.

1. Create Buyer Personas

Buyer persona is a summary portrait of your target customer’s demographics, behavior, interests, and goals. Due to the complexity of the B2B buying process, understanding a B2B customer involves reviewing every stakeholder involved in the purchasing process.

Who is involved depends on the company size and industry. For example, RealVNC, a provider of remote access solutions for businesses, works across various industries, from IT and telecommunications to manufacturing and education.

Decision makers and purchasing processes in each industry have different needs and budgets, and even within the same industry, each organization is unique. For example, a large data enterprise might need a VNC server to make highly secure direct connections while individual employees might just need a remote access solution when working from home.

Your customers are considering buying your products or services to solve a problem. You need to identify what these problems, or pain points, are. For example, a fashion retailer may be looking for texting solutions to reach their target audience and drive sales. At the same time, a fintech business may be looking for the same service but to meet regulatory compliance requirements.

2. Measure and Use Data

To understand how your typical customer moves through the purchasing process, you need data. The data can be quantitative—web analytics, and qualitative—surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.

For example, while mapping their customer journey, a B2B business team that sells remote desktop connections for Mac will want to capture how prospective customers discover them, which touchpoints they use to research the business, and how they decide on the purchase. They’ll need to look at data from social media, their website analytics, customer feedback, and much more.

It is a good idea to go through a customer journey as a team using different devices and buyer personas. This exercise usually reveals valuable insights.

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Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

3. Map the Customer Journey

Based on customer insights and data gathered, you need to map every customer touchpoint. Customer touchpoints are the channels, interactions, and content that customers come across throughout your customer journey. Devices are an important consideration, as B2B customers increasingly use mobile devices.

You also need to map the types of content customers use for research and consideration. When it comes to B2B buying, the types of content include long-form content like white papers and case studies, sales presentations, webinars, and product demos.

The resulting customer journey map should visualize the customer's progression from awareness to purchase decision and identify any friction points. These may be customers not finding the necessary information on your website, website navigation issues, or inconsistent customer support.

Create a Seamless Omnichannel Journey

Mapping the customer journey helps businesses improve the customer experience, optimize marketing ROI, and ultimately, improve conversion and grow sales. The customer journey map can reveal where touchpoints do not work well together and where there are content gaps.

Businesses create customer journey maps to regularly review and optimize the journey. The customer journey maps need to be updated regularly.

B2B buyers have come to expect a seamless omnichannel approach that includes personalized experiences, relevant content, and multiple ways to connect with your business. The B2B customer journey maps allow you, as a business, to stay on top of what your customers need.

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