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The Complete Guide to Mapping Your B2B Customer Journey

Updated: May 20

Today’s B2B customers have options. Lots of them.

So how do you rise above the competition and earn new business? By providing an exceptional customer experience—one that gets talked about in conference rooms, in industry publications, and all over the web.

You can evaluate and enhance your customers’ experiences with your brand by mapping your customer journey. 

Mapping your customer journey allows you to gain a deep understanding of how customers interact with your company, from their initial discovery of your brand to their decision to purchase…and beyond.

In this blog post, learn how to map out your B2B customer journey to gain actionable insights and enhance your customer experience.

The Complete Guide to Mapping Your B2B Customer Journey - nimbler

Table of Contents:

Understanding the B2B Customer Journey

Unlike the B2C journey,  the B2B journey is often longer, more complex, and involves multiple stakeholders. Understanding the user’s expectations, decision-making processes, and engagement points is crucial to developing your company’s experience and engagement strategies. Below, we’ll break down what it takes to thoroughly understand this journey.

What is the B2B Customer Journey?

The B2B customer journey refers to the series of steps that a B2B customer goes through when considering, purchasing, and using a business’s products or services. It spans the entire lifecycle of the customer’s relationship with a business, from initial discovery to post-purchase support. This includes digital encounters, sales meetings, customer service interactions, and more.

What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the touchpoints a customer interacts with as they progress through the sales process, from their initial discovery of your brand all the way to the post-purchase stage.

A customer journey map can also provide insight into a customer’s expectations and emotions at each journey stage.

Mapping your B2B customer journey helps you uncover actionable insights that can be used to optimize your overall customer experience.

As you create a map of your customer journey, you’ll be able to answer questions like these:

  • What keywords are people using to discover our blog posts? 

  • Does our referral form load fast enough? 

  • Is our chatbot helpful or annoying? 

  • Does the pricing page scare off potential customers? 

  • Why aren’t people activating their free trials?

  • How quickly can customers find answers in our Help Center?

  • Should we send our email newsletter weekly or monthly?

Customer Journey vs. Customer Experience

The customer journey and the customer experience are related concepts, but there are distinctions between the two.

The customer journey refers to how your customers progress across your business’s touchpoints to move from one stage of the journey to the next, from initial discovery all the way to post-purchase support. It allows you to visualize and understand how consumers are finding your business and making purchase decisions.

For example, a potential business customer visits your company’s website for the first time after finding it through a search engine. They navigate to the product pages to learn more about the offerings and submit a contact form to request more information. This particular touchpoint—visiting the website and submitting a contact form—is a clear interaction within the customer journey.

The customer experience, on the other hand, is an indicator of how well your customer journey is satisfying your customer’s expectations.

For example, following a website visit and form submission, the customer receives a personalized and prompt response from a sales representative. The sales rep provides detailed product information, answers all queries, offers a demo, and follows up with additional resources tailored to the customer's needs. The customer feels valued, informed, and confident in their decision-making process. This positive feeling and overall perception of the brand constitutes the customer experience interaction.

It’s important to consider both interaction types together. By mapping out your customer journey to identify problems and opportunity areas, you can make strategic improvements that will greatly enhance your customer experience.

The 6 Stages of the B2B Customer Journey

Every organization has a different way of defining its customer journey, but a common progression of stages is Awareness, Consideration, Evaluation, Decision, Retention, and Advocacy. Below, you will find a brief description of these six stages.

Stage 1: Awareness

The customer’s journey begins when they first become aware of your business. They may have clicked on a targeted ad, found your blog in a Google search, or heard about your company from an industry peer.

They proceed to the next stage as they discover more of your engaging and informative content.

Stage 2: Consideration

When the consumer begins demonstrating an increased interest in your business and its offerings, they have reached the Consideration stage of the customer journey.

Here, the prospect expresses curiosity and seeks more information about your products or services. They may visit your company website, read customer reviews, or fill out a form to request more information.

Stage 3: Evaluation

The customer has reached the Evaluation stage when they are ready to start researching multiple options and narrowing down their choices. This is when your company’s solution will be weighed against competitors' solutions. 

The prospect will compare solutions based on features, pricing, quality, and how well they meet their unique needs. They might request a product demonstration or sign up for a free trial.

Stage 4: Decision

The Decision stage is when the prospect has narrowed the options and is ready to commit to a purchase decision. To ensure they make an informed decision, they will conduct further research on the final options to compare factors such as:

  • Company reputation and reliability

  • Quality of customer support

  • Solution’s compatibility with existing systems

  • Costs vs. benefits

  • Risks (disruption to operations, contract lock-in, data security, etc.)

After making an informed decision, they take the steps to submit their payment and enter the post-purchase stage of their journey.

Stage 5: Retention

Finally, the customer has made their purchase! But that doesn’t mean the journey is over. In the Retention stage, the customer will need continued support to remain happy with their decision. 

As the solution provider, your role during the Retention stage is to deliver ongoing value to the customer to encourage repeat business and long-term loyalty.

Typical customer interactions during this stage include customer support calls, training sessions, educational webinars, blog posts, private online user communities, product update emails, and customer feedback surveys, to name a few. 

Stage 6: Advocacy

When a satisfied customer begins to recommend your product or service to others, that customer has arrived at the Advocacy stage.

Customers in the Advocacy stage help your business grow by sending you direct referrals, writing positive online reviews, providing you with testimonials, assisting in crafting case studies, amplifying your brand on social media, and actively participating in your company’s online user community.

You can encourage advocacy among your loyal customers by providing them with links to your preferred review sites, showcasing their success stories, offering a referral rewards program, and—most importantly—taking the time to cultivate genuine and meaningful relationships.

Now that we’ve discussed each of the six stages of the typical B2B customer journey, let’s dive into the details of mapping out your customer journey.

How To Create a Customer Journey Map

Mapping your B2B customer journey is a valuable exercise for understanding and optimizing every step your customer takes as they interact with your brand. 

When you create a customer journey map, you build a tool that allows you to analyze every detail of the journey to uncover obstacles the customer might face and opportunities for improvement.

It allows you to get inside your customers' heads, see things from their perspectives, and use that insight to create an experience that meets their expectations.

Mapping your B2B customer journey is a challenging but rewarding task. Take a look at the following steps to learn how to create and use a customer journey map for your B2B business.

Step 1: Define Your Mapping Objectives

What is the purpose of your customer journey map? Determine the insights you hope to gain and how you will use the map to improve your customer experience. Write down your objectives on your map to keep your efforts focused.

Step 2: Develop Customer Personas

Create detailed customer personas that represent different segments of your target audience. Consider including factors such as demographics, goals, challenges, and buying behaviors to create accurate representations of your customers.

Include your personas in your customer journey map to reflect each segment’s unique needs, preferences, and challenges that they experience at each stage of the process.

Step 3: Identify Key Stages and Touchpoints

Use your customer journey map to list out all of your defined stages (Awareness, Consideration, Evaluation, Decision, Retention, and Advocacy). 

Then, within each stage, you can list the different touchpoints where customers interact with your brand.

What is a touchpoint? 

A touchpoint is any instance in which the customer interacts with your brand. Touchpoints occur at every stage of the customer journey.

Touchpoints that occur early in the journey, prior to purchase, might include:

  • Targeted online ads

  • Promoted social media posts

  • Educational blog posts, ebooks, and other content

  • Cold emails

  • Direct mail

  • Reviews on third-party sites

  • Trade show booth

As customers move closer to the Decision stage, touchpoints might include:

  • Case studies

  • Comparison pages

  • Testimonials

  • Product demos

  • Free trials

  • Pricing page

  • FAQs

  • Sales rep phone calls

  • Sign up form

After purchase, during the Retention and Advocacy stages, customer touchpoints often include:

  • Customer care calls

  • Chatbots or live chat

  • Online user communities

  • Customer email subscriptions

  • Referral rewards program

  • Request for testimonials

  • Customer feedback surveys

Once you’ve listed all your touchpoints under their respective stages, you can begin to analyze how these elements of the customer journey impact the customer experience.

Step 4: Gather Customer Data

Your sales, marketing, RevOps, and customer support teams will be able to provide much of the insight needed to begin mapping out your customer journey. They can provide the details of their processes and quantitative data like website analytics, campaign results, sales records, and other types of B2B intent data.

But to get the full picture—to really understand your customers’ perceptions and sentiments—you’ll need to gather some qualitative customer data, too.

Some of this will require your customers’ cooperation:

  • Customer feedback surveys

  • Focus groups

  • Interviews

Your company can do other data-gathering:

  • Customer care call recordings

  • Chat transcripts

  • Reviews on third-party sites

By gathering and analyzing data from various sources, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of your customer’s behaviors, preferences, pain points, and emotions throughout the journey. 

Step 5: Map Out the Journey

Once you’ve identified your objectives, created personas, outlined stages and touchpoints, and gathered customer data, you can begin building your customer journey map.

Use a customer journey mapping tool or template to map out the typical paths customers take as they progress through each stage of the journey.

If you want to use a mapping tool, check out LucidChart or FigJam.

You can also start with the customer journey map template in Google Docs.

Step 6: Turn Insights into Action

Now that you’ve created a customer journey map, it’s time to put this tool to work!

Tailor your marketing content and sales language to address the customer pain points, preferences, and motivations you’ve uncovered.

Determine which touchpoints could be personalized. Which customer-brand interactions would most benefit from personalization tactics like dynamic email content or customized offers?

Fill gaps in your content. Is there a common customer question not yet addressed on your website? Is a major competitor missing from your existing comparison pages? 

Refine your lead qualification criteria. Use insights from your customer journey map to better understand how customers signal they are ready to buy.

Identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. Analyze customer needs, preferences, and buying behaviors at different stages of the customer journey to get your timing and sales pitch just right.

Optimize your customer support. Identify pain points and areas of friction in the customer journey. Use that insight to figure out how to streamline processes, improve response times, and provide your support team with the information and tools they need to resolve issues quickly and effectively.

Anticipate customer needs. Identify the triggers that most often lead to support calls and develop a process for proactive support.

These are just a few of the many ways you can use insights from your customer journey to improve your marketing, sales, and customer support processes.

Navigating Your Way To Lasting B2B Success

Mapping your B2B customer journey is a valuable exercise in viewing your processes from your customers' perspective. It allows you to examine how your company is meeting customer expectations at every step of the journey. 

But mapping your customer journey isn’t just about understanding—it’s about action, too. It allows you to uncover countless opportunities for enhancing your marketing, sales, and service strategies.

As time goes on, don’t let your map get stale. Continue to refine and analyze your customer journey map, and you’ll discover new opportunities again and again. 

As your business grows and your customers’ needs evolve, the practice of mapping and optimizing your customer journey will keep your business steered toward success.

Supercharge Your Customer Journey With Nimbler

Ready to take your sales, marketing, and customer support to the next level? Nimbler provides rich B2B consumer data and automated sales outreach tools to help businesses optimize the B2B customer journey.

With the help of Nimbler’s AI Sales Assistant, your company can:

  • Reach 120M+ verified US business leads

  • Prioritize leads most likely to convert

  • Enrich contact info with 50+ data points

  • Create hyper-personalized cold outreach

  • Launch autonomous follow-up sequences

New sales opportunities are just a few clicks away—start your free trial of Nimbler today!

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