#gxmxp Series

Customer Journey Mapping

Now that you have a clear Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) that you’ve prioritized, the next phase of our #gxmxp Series is about conducting a Customer Experience Review. 

The origin of customer experience review comes from user experience (UX) exercises that focus on the customer journey interacting with the product itself. For market development, we’ve adapted that UX principle to better understand the customer journey as it relates to the customers’ experience interacting with you and your sales process.

For most startups, the sales process is improvised and unintentional. This causes friction which reduces sales velocity as well as close rates.

The goal of understanding your current customer journey is simple: make it as easy as possible for others to work with you.

Before moving on, make sure you have completed the ICP exercise and have identified the ICP that you plan to go-to-market with (i.e., Mr./Mrs. Right Now). Everything going forward will be premised on that ICP.

The ICP exercise enabled you to identify who you want to talk to, what their business needs are, and what that initial contract value would look like. Now we’re going to identify how easy or difficult you make it for that ICP to do business with you.

Before getting started, scroll over (or down on mobile) to the Resources / Downloads area and grab the Customer Journey Mapping document. You’ll want to refer to it as you progress through the exercise.

Closing is a Byproduct of a Good Sales Experience

There’s a myth that the best salespeople are closers. That’s completely wrong. 

Closing is the byproduct of a thoughtful sales experience. Click to Tweet

If you do the whole sales process correctly, closing is the natural outcome.

Begin this exercise by creating a list all of the steps your ICP needs to take to become your customer. The goal is to identify areas of your current sales process that create friction with your ICP.

In this context, think of friction as anything that stalls a sales process or takes it a step backward.

Friction is the enemy of a healthy sales experience. Click to Tweet

It’s a common misunderstanding that friction comes from the customer’s side. For example, the customer doesn’t understand the product or they don’t “get the value.” The data proves otherwise.

In reality, sales friction or outright lost deals occur because the salesperson hasn’t done a good job setting expectations or building a pathway for the two companies to work together. 

You don’t want to go through all of the work of identifying your ICP, building a website, making lots of calls and sending lots of emails only to lose the customer during the buying journey because part of your sales process was difficult for them. 

For most startups, the customer journey and sales process are not put together intentionally. They are created out of reaction and need.

Our goal with this exercise is for you to take ownership of your sales process and demonstrate leadership through the customer journey.

In reflecting upon your existing customer journey, you will identify friction points of varying degrees of severity. Your goal should not be to solve every problem and build the perfect customer journey.

Perfect is the enemy of good. Your goal should be to eliminate low hanging fruit that create a negative emotion towards your brand or product. 

Risky Business

A real-world example of serious and unintentional friction comes from GrowthX friend Randy Wood with a lesson learned during his early days as a co-founder of the $12B software company, Citrix.

When asked for his insights for this post, it didn’t take Randy long to honestly share that “what never occurred to me was what business risks the customer may be facing by adopting our product.” Randy and his co-founders knew that they were onto truly disruptive tech that would be a game-changer for their customers.

What they hadn’t considered was the practical risks associated with their product. Examples that Randy pointed out include, “the cost to the [customer] in terms of disruption while the switch over is made to [Citrix]” and “a large loss on an investment in a product we were replacing that had not yet been fully amortized.”

Before their multi-billion Dollar market cap, Citrix faced the same challenge that all startups face. As Randy recalled in those early days, “the most common assessment of risk was that because Citrix was a startup company and could go out of business as so many startup companies do, it would create a large problem for the customer.”

“Many new products have minimal risk to customers and those are much easier to garner market traction.  However, if you have a product that creates a “mission critical” risk to your potential customers, as Citrix did, you need to spend a lot of time devising ways to mitigate your risk to your customer or you will have great difficulty gaining market traction.” (Randy Wood, Co-Founder, Citrix)

Remember Randy’s advice as you go through this exercise.

Mapping the Customer Journey 

We’re going to use the Customer Journey Mapping document to understand and evaluate your sales process in granular detail. You’ll go through what the processes are today, who’s responsible for each one, and what you can do to remove friction. We’ll do this for every stage of the journey: Learn, Try/Demo, Buy, Onboarding, Retention and Support, and Growth.

First, let’s walk through each stage:

  • Learn: How does the customer learn about you (an email campaign, a cold call, a Facebook ad, etc.)? Does this work well and is it easy for the customer to engage back with you on this channel? For example, if you’re running a digital ad campaign that leads to your website, your site needs to have a phone number or other contact information so the customer can reach you. 
  • Try and Demo: Now that the customer has learned about your product, how do they begin to interact with it (free trial, webinar, online demo, etc.)? There’s a big difference between reaching out to people and asking them to buy something and reaching out to people asking them to learn about something. Don’t enter sales to sell; enter to seek fit. The demo is an opportunity for both sides to find that fit (if it exists at all).
  • Buy: This refers to how the customer actually purchases your product. What does the contract look like and how does money exchange hands? This can be anything from cash to check to an online credit card system or any other payment structure you have. Then think about what this experience is like for the customer. If your payment tool is bad or out of date, that’s not a good customer experience and probably creates friction. 
  • Onboarding: This is the most forgotten piece of customer acquisition. Most people think that once the sale is complete, the work is over, and the customer can figure it all out. But customers usually need some hand-holding to start. You want to make sure that your customer is successful with your product or all of this work isn’t worthwhile. Think about how a customer begins to use your product once they’ve bought it. What is the cadence of communication from you and what resources do they get? Who will manage that and follow up? If you aren’t doing anything right now when you sign up a customer, this is an immediate place where you need to focus some attention. 
  • Retention and Support: Once you get someone using your product, there’s still an opportunity for friction. When something breaks, how do they find the support to fix it? If it’s as simple as contacting you on your support line, what is that experience like for them? How fast does it take to get help? Also, think about how often your team is checking in on the customer. It should be multiple times a year, not just right before it’s time to renew the contract. 
  • Growth: So you sold something to a customer. Now, how do you get them to buy more of it? How do you get them to provide referrals? This could be through a case study, a webinar, or you could try to sell to a different office of the same company. How do you use your existing customers to get new customers or new revenue?
Don't enter sales to sell; enter to seek fit. Click to Tweet

For each stage above, you’ll answer the following six questions about that part of the journey: 

  1. What is the current customer experience? Write out in minute detail what the customer experience looks like at each stage.Who does the customer interact with? If they need to fill out forms on your site, what is that digital experience like for them?
  2. What is required of the customer? List what actions the customer needs to take at each step in the sales process. For example, during the buying stage, does the customer send a check, pay via PayPal, or enter their credit card info on your site? Is this process obvious to them or is it difficult?
  3. Who is responsible internally? Who handles the prospect at each stage? This ties back to the resource review we did at the beginning of the #gxmxp Series. If a name gets put down at any of these stages, discuss this responsibility relative to what their time allocation looked like in the resource review. For instance, if you’re a B2B SaaS company that has to frequently demo your product, does that person have the time and expertise to do it? Are they good at it?
  4. What are the Channels for Contact? How will you communicate the actions a customer needs to take at each stage? Will it be via emails, calls, or a social network like LinkedIn? Are you working with customers over Skype or Google Hangouts, and is that channel professional enough for the people you’re talking to? Make sure that no channel creates additional friction. 
  5. What are the Blockers / Improvements? This is the low-hanging fruit you can fix now to make the sales process easier for the customer. It could be as simple as putting a phone number on your website.
  6. What Does the Future State Look Like?  What does the perfect version look like? Write down how this part of the process should work when you have more time and resources to put into it. This could be anything from a chatbot on the website to a content marketing strategy to an explainer video.

Would you do business with you??

Once you’ve gone through each step, you should have the points of friction you can solve for right now. While you still want to move fast, fix the things that are easy to change and that will have a huge impact (like a bad payment gateway). 

Think of your completed Customer Journey Map as a roadmap you can come back to every couple of months to find additional improvements to make.

Now that you have a grasp on how easy or difficult you make it for the customer to do business with you, we can move on to the next phase: Business Pricing Models.

In next week’s post, we’ll go over how to determine a pricing hypothesis that can be tested against your market to find profitability.

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