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We Need To Stop Our Fixation On Buyer Journeys

by David Brock on May 17th, 2018

Recently, I participated in a discussion on “the buyers journey.”  In some ways, I suppose I should have been happy that we were at least focused on the buyer, normally we obsess about our products/solutions and how we inflict them on our customers.

We do need to be focused on our customers and what they are trying to achieve.  But is the “buying journey” the right target of our attention?  Are we being as helpful as we can be, are we creating as much value with our buyers as possible with just a focus on the buying journey?

As much as we’d like to think the primary mission of our customers is to buy and we want to be aligned with them, the reality is far different.  Buying is just a small part of what our customers are concerned about–and probably the least important part of their concerns.

Our customers focus on a number of things.  At the simplest level, it’s just doing their jobs.  Making sure they accomplish the goals they have in place, doing what their managers are holding them accountable to do.  At higher levels, they are focused on identifying and addressing new opportunities.  It may be developing new products, addressing new markets, growing their relationships with their customers, improving their own performance, building capacity and capability.

Sometimes, their attention is focused on problems or issues they may be having–defining them, evaluating solutions, implementing solutions, correcting performance deficiencies, improving their operations, reducing costs, improving quality, and so forth.

At the root of any of this, is change and change management.

The important point here, whether it’s keeping things going, operating normally, or addressing opportunities, or problems, or managing change, the context is very broad.  It may or may not involve buying anything.

As we dive into these issues, we learn that buying, if any buying is involved is just a small part of what the customer is trying to achieve.  And their buying may not be just about our products/solutions, they may be looking to buy a whole number of things.  That’s because what they are trying to do isn’t just about us.

Being buyer focused is important–it’s far better than being focused on pitching our products.

But if we really want to understand and engage our customers, we have to recognize that buying activities and journeys are the smallest part of what our customers are concerned about in addressing opportunities, problems, and driving change in their organizations.  If we want to create great value with our customers, we should focus on where they are investing most of their time.

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7 Comments
  1. Good points Dave,

    Intuitively, I switched to the term customer’s journey already years ago. Journey is a closed loop process representation of the change formula attributed to Prof. Schein. It illustrates the shifts in mindset a customer goes through from an acceptable status quo to dissatisfaction with this status quo, to developing a vision for a future status quo, to first steps how to attain the new status quo and finally ending in a new acceptable status quo (closing the loop)
    This is why I can wholeheartedly support what you say here.

  2. Doug Schmidt permalink

    David, this is a powerful and insightful blog post! Way to go!

  3. Spot on Dave! Have to say as well as the buyer journey, to also focus on what they want. Too many sales reps don’t drill deep into what the client wants and therefore when they come round to sending on the proposal, it often falls significantly short of their expectations. The best sales reps find out exactly what their customers want and pretty much include this exactly in their proposal (sometimes using the customers words has a better chance of success!).

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  1. There Is No Buyer's Journey in B2B Sales. There Are Journeys. · The Sales Blog

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