The Guide to the B2B Customer Journey

Knowledge of the B2B customer journey is one of the central building blocks for generating new customers. With professional support and the selection of the right tools and applications, you can use the customer journey to successfully fill your sales pipeline with qualified leads.

Customer Journey

What is the Customer Journey?

The term customer journey originates from the field of marketing. For example, the B2B customer journey describes the path that a prospective customer takes from the first encounter with one's own company to becoming a loyal customer.

The goal of employees in marketing and sales is to successfully accompany as many prospective customers as possible on the customer journey until the buying decision was made.

For this reason, it is important to know the individual stages of the B2B customer journey and to actively involve the target customer at all times. It is crucial that the employees of one's own company always adjust to the wishes and needs of potential customers in order to prevent promising leads from leaving the customer journey prematurely or being forgotten.

The stages of the Customer Journey

The stages each person goes through on the way from prospect to returning customer are always individual and can differ in many points. Unfortunately it is impossible for marketing and sales to plan and follow a separate journey for each individual potential customer. For this reason, a structured approach that outlines the four most important stages of the customer journey is a good guideline for turning prospects and leads into sustainable customers at the end of the journey.

Stages of the Customer Journey

  • Attract

  • Engage

  • Convert

  • Delight

In the digital age, marketing takes place on different channels. This allows prospects and leads to reach your company via differentiated routes

The important thing is to pick up the potential customer where they are and actively lead them on.

Because the B2B customer journey has become more complex, employees in marketing and sales should be specifically geared to recognizing the right signals. Each touchpoint with the potential customer serves a different purpose and should be used accordingly in the appropriate phase.

The customer journey stages in B2B

In the age of digital marketing, the B2B customer journey from initial contact with a brand to purchase has become significantly more complex.

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The customer journey stages in B2B

Touchpoints during the Customer Journey

Every situation in which a prospective customer comes into contact with your company qualifies as a touchpoint in his customer journey. For an optimal customer experience, the customer needs to be accompanied before, during and after the purchase and picked up via various touchpoints.

Touchpoints along the customer journey

  • Before the purchase

  • During the purchase

  • After the purchase

Each of these individual touchpoints will result in a reaction from your leads or customers, which can be positive or negative.

If you are aware of the possible touchpoints of contact and actively shape them, you increase the chance of being able to create a positive experience.
Your B2B customer journey has these touchpoints

This multitude of touchpoints on the customer journey presents a particular challenge for many companies.

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Your B2B customer journey has these touchpoints

The decision-making process in B2B

When selling B2C products to end consumers, the decision to buy is often made spontaneously and quickly. In contrast, the sales process in the B2B area is a longer-term and more thought-out process. This is especially due to the fact that the B2B customer journey is often a purchase decision that involves a larger investment.

These factors are typical in the customer journey if you work in the B2B market:

  • your company sells complex products that require explanation

  • the decision cycles of potential customers are quite long

  • several decision makers are involved in the purchase

  • there is a great need for information on the part of the final decision-maker

For marketing and sales staff, this lengthy process requires a lot of tact and negotiating skills. This makes it all the more important to pick up the potential customer at every touchpoint through personal contact and to keep them well informed.

The purchase decision process in B2B

Companies that know exactly the customer journey of their prospective buyers and accompany them on this journey in the best possible way can significantly increase their sales.

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The purchase decision process in B2B

Peculiarities of target group analysis in B2B

Finding the right target customers for your own company in the B2B segment is much more difficult than, for example, marketing products in the B2C area. Here, it is not a matter of spreading product information widely in the hope that the right prospective customers will contact you by chance.

The B2B sector is much more complex and therefore requires a precise target group analysis.

If the B2B target group is not precisely defined, wastage occurs and valuable resources are wasted.

In the business sector, the exact analysis of the desired customers usually results in a small and select group of interested parties. For the B2B customer journey, it means that only a few target customers are at the beginning of the journey.

Important success factors for target group analysis in B2B

  • Not only the company, but the entire buying center of the company must be screened

  • Personalized address in order to avoid scattering losses

  • Keeping an eye on long decision-making processes at the customer by providing additional information and following up

How to successfully analyse target groups in B2B

If you want to target your customers - be it with personalized newsletters or other individualized content - you first have to know them.

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How to successfully analyse target groups in B2B

Create Buyer Persona

The more accurate and detailed the data of your target customers, the greater the chance for employees to launch appropriate marketing campaigns and provide additional product information to the desired customers.

To do this, it is critical to create buyer personas as a tool for generating B2B target customers.

Preview Persona Template

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Persona Template

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This gives you an overview of the different target customers for your entire product range or a breakdown by region or industry.

The precise knowledge of personas is important for the successful accompaniment of leads during the customer journey.

It is proven that only a few customers buy a product after the initial contact. Many customers often contact a company up to eight times before making a purchase decision.

Create helpful B2B personas in 5 steps

A persona is a tool of the customer journey and helps to get to know your target group better.

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Create helpful B2B personas in 5 steps

Customer Relationship Management in B2B

In digital customer relationship management, data about the potential customer is collected from the very first contact and reflected in meaningful profiles, giving the sales department a good knowledge of the contact's interests and preferences from the very first conversation with a qualified lead.

Efficient Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for B2B companies

Customer Relationship Management aims to guide each contact through the customer journey as efficiently as possible and increase customer lifetime value.

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Efficient Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for B2B companies

Breaking down data silos

In many companies, departments work with self-sufficient systems that are not connected to the central corporate database. Some employees keep customer data and important information on their own laptops or computers.

These individual collections of information represent silos of data that are missing from a potential contract elsewhere in the organization.

In this context, it is important to break down data silos within a company and store all important customer data and information centrally in one place. In addition, it must be ensured that all employees in marketing and sales have access to the central data pool.

Would you also like to break down your data silos and optimize your customer journey?

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The disadvantages of data silos within an organization are serious:

  • Low data quality due to insufficient maintenance

  • Isolatedly managed data quickly becomes outdated

  • Data recorded in several places in the company leads to misunderstandings and duplicates

  • For a targeted campaign, it is laborious to search through several data sources

  • Data silos are inefficient and increase administrative costs

  • Collaboration between marketing and sales is made more difficult by data silos

Only if existing data silos can be broken down is effective collaboration between marketing and sales possible. Every employee in both areas has access to current data and can prepare perfectly for planned marketing campaigns or customer meetings.

Another advantage is that everyone involved has the same level of knowledge about the target customer in the B2B customer journey and there are no different statements in the dialog with the customer.

The biggest risk of digitization: data silos

With skewed data, not only does measurability fall by the wayside, but so does the comparability that an investment has brought.

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The biggest risk of digitization: data silos

Customer Data Platform

To avoid the emergence of data silos, the Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a good solution for an efficient B2B customer journey. Here, customer data and important information are brought together centrally in order to obtain uniform customer profiles for the customer journey as a result.

The information stored in it is easily accessible to the employees in marketing and sales and is on a uniform level.

The advantage of the Customer Data Platform lies in its flexible handling. Data can be collected, evaluated and utilized via different channels.

The ability to use different sources and information channels makes the Customer Data Platform a central source of information on an up-to-date basis. At the same time, it is also possible to access the stored customer data via different channels. This ensures up-to-date information that can be easily accessed at any time.

What are the benefits of a Customer Data Platform?

B2B companies that can handle customer data have a clear market advantage.

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What are the benefits of a Customer Data Platform?

KPI examples for B2B companies

As in every area of the business, the marketing and sales segments must also undergo permanent monitoring. In the case of sales, success can be measured relatively well through completed orders or sales figures.

In the case of marketing activities, determining key performance indicators (KPIs) is much more difficult. But here, too, sales revenue is a good basis for measuring effectiveness.

With the help of these evaluations, statements can be made about the effectiveness of marketing campaigns that have been carried out.
KPI examples for B2B - these are the most important measurements

Every step a potential customer takes on their customer journey generates data - and this can be intelligently evaluated with the help of digital tools.

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KPI examples for B2B - these are the most important measurements

Conclusion

Winning new customers in the B2B sector is a permanent challenge for companies. With the B2B Customer Journey, you have a target-oriented tool at hand to actively accompany your potential customers along the customer journey and convert them into paying customers.