The Real Value of the Buyer Journey Map

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Having spent much of my career working at digital agencies, I’ve seen many deliverables that collect dust once presented. To me, it’s clear why this happens. The issue is that too often the delivery of documented outcomes is viewed as the end-game.

It should be quite the opposite, in fact. Any deliverable should be a key that unlocks the next stage of information gathering, learning, and executing.

In my experience, if there is any deliverable that suffers from being well-designed shelfware, it’s the Journey Map. Why is this? The Journey Map typically acts as a pretty picture that describes the Promised Land, the utopian customer experience which will never be achieved. So it’s shelved.

Maybe that’s another way of saying that, oftentimes, the Journey Map is a visionary document, not a document that drives execution of ideas. This is a lost opportunity.

To move the Journey Map beyond being just another pretty deliverable, we have to redefine what the Journey Map really represents. The Journey Map must represent actions the sales and marketing teams can take immediately to create an exceptional buying experience. When businesses create exceptional buyer experiences, they can expect an uptick in revenue as a result.

At InStereo, we are intensely focused on creating Journey Maps that represent:

  • The Ideal Customer Profile
  • Targeted Buyer Persona
  • Stages the buyer goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and choose a product/service
  • Identified gaps between the Buyer Journey, internal sales, and marketing processes

These identified gaps are whats most important. So, let’s break down how to make it happen.

Talk to your customers (and the ones that got away)

Really. Go talk to those you’ve sold to. Why did you win their business? Why did you lose their business? 

Assumptions only go so far, so it’s important to talk directly those who participated in the buying process in order to understand their approach, their goals, and the kinds of questions they ask.

Running the interviews doesn’t need to be complicated:

  • Identify 8 – 10 current/former customers (and throw in a couple you lost)
  • Invite them into a 45-minute discussion aimed at gathering information to help you improve the customer experience
  • Ask them 10 – 12 questions about their experience buying from your firm
  • Review all of the answers to identify the key themes that illustrate their buying experience
  • Share with your sales and marketing team

Agree on your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas


Your ICP is the definition of a company that was put on this earth to purchase your product or service. What I mean, is that you designed your product or service to relieve a specific pain in specific situations. There are companies that are directly in the sweet spot of pain that your product or service can solve. Agree on your ICP.

Buyer Personas

If the ICP represents the company you should target, the buyer personas are the specific people at the company who show up in the buying process either as the economic decision maker, the champion, an influencer, or some other role. 

Personas are incredibly important to ensure alignment of value proposition, messaging, and call-to-action as a part of your sales and marketing outreach.

Before you can create a journey map, first identify each role, prioritize the most important ones, then answer these questions to build out their profile. 

Put it all together

Now that you have fresh customer interview data in hand, and you’ve agreed on your ICP and buyer personas, it’s time to pull it all together.

Define the Buyer Stages

First things first. The buyer journey should be 1:1 with a buyer persona. So choose the most important persona to begin. 

Next, define the stages that the buyer goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and choose a product or service such as yours.

Use action-focused stage names. Stay away from generic customer lifecycle terms, like Awareness, Evaluate, Choose, Purchase, Experience. (I don’t know any buyers who come into the office ready to solve their pain with Awareness. Rather, they search, the ask others, they get referrals, etc.)

So put yourself in the shoes of the buyer, reflect on what you heard from your customer interviews, and write down the stages, from the initial triggers that kickstart their buying process, through being onboarded as a new customer.

Capture Buyer Goals and Questions

For each stage,  what does the buyer need to accomplish? Every buyer has explicit or implicit, stated or unstated goals to achieve at every buying stage. Write down one to three goals for each stage.

To achieve their goals, buyers will have a range of questions to consider before continuing forward in their decision process. What are the most important questions they need to have answered during that specific stage before they can confidently move to the next? Write down the top three to five questions that buyers have.

For example, if the buyer is in a stage to Get Referrals, their goal might be to Get five referrals from peer network. To achieve this goal, they may have questions like “Who’s solved this for companies like ours?” “Who is best at this?” “Who should I talk to?” 

You get the idea.

Find the gaps, and fill them

This is where the real value of the Journey Map comes into play. 

Up to this point, we’ve been standing in the shoes of the buyer: What is triggering the buying process, what are their buying stages, and what are their goals and questions. Now, it’s time to step back into your shoes.

The questions you need to ask your team for each buying stage is: How well do we support the buyer through our sales and marketing activities? What do we specifically do to help the buyer answer their questions, achieve their goals, and advance to the next buying stage? 

To answer these questions, go stage by stage and survey your current inventory of content, engagement activities, and processes. Capture those that you believe support the buyer within a specific stage. 

It’s likely, however, that you come up without any answers for some stages. You’ll realize that you don’t have much in the way of targeted content, engagement activities, and processes to support the buyer.

That’s ok. Because these gaps represent opportunities to implement ideas that lead to the delivery of an exceptional buyer experience. 

To fill the gaps, this is where brainstorming comes into play. Get creative. Come up with new ideas that are targeted, engaging, and valuable to the buyer. Capture these ideas and align to the most relevant and impactful stage of the buyer journey.

And there you have it…

Truth be told, when our team at InStereo helps customers develop their buyer journey map, we spend at least 8 total hours locked in a room with members from both the sales and marketing teams and lots of whiteboards. 

Sure, it’s a lot of work, but I guarantee it will be eye-opening, fun, and inspirational, as your collective sales and marketing teams set the stage for a well-aligned go-to-market plan, all in the name of delivering an exceptional buyer experience.


At InStereo we focus on finding and closing these gaps in the buyer journey. We take a people first, technology second approach and believe there is nothing more important than customer experience. 

The goal used to be to capture buyers, now the focus should be on connecting with them on a deeper level. Creating relationships that span a buying journey and result in repeat good business. 

Want to learn more?  Let’s talk!

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