The SaaS buyer journey is by no means a predictable one. It’s far from being a train journey where you know all the stops that are going to come until you reach the destination.
More than non-linear, B2B buyer journeys are actually quite messy to map. Interested prospects can move from being interested in your software at one point to having completely no recollection of what your brand does.
The in between is where you need to pull all the stops. And how? By letting them know their pain points are your problems to solve; by finding ways to keep them in the know about what your brand and product are about through every stage of the funnel they are in.
Without boring you with outdated journey stages like “problem-aware” and “solution-aware”, I’ll discuss how you can leverage a non-linear SaaS buyer journey to your GTM’s advantage.
How is the SaaS buyer journey non-linear?
Picture yourself as a rev ops professional evaluating a lead distribution software for your sales team to deploy in the next quarter. Your SaaS buyer journey would follow a similar randomized trajectory:
1. How it begins
The starting point of your evaluation could be a simple Google search. Or maybe you hit up your favorite communities like RevOps Co-op and RevGenius, or leave a note in your trusted networks.
You get a bunch of SEO-driven suggestions from Google, a few paid ads, recommendations from fellow RevOps folks, and some more from your work connections.
2. First impressions from your search
If a product’s messaging really resonates with your pain, you might actually end up checking them out right there. But deep down, you know it’s still early days.
You are into shortlisting names that match your own research on Google and suggestions from your market peers. And maybe run a comparison on an aggregator site like G2.
3. Exploring software functionalities
Next comes drilling the options down to functionalities and processes. Your previous lead distribution tool wasn’t great with lead-to-account matching, so you search about it. Now, you realize one of your shortlisted companies has written an article on lead-to-account matching use cases.
4. Brand recall with ads and social media
You start finding their ads retargeting you on ad networks. You end up enjoying their social media posts. Customers are actively vouching for them and the company is talking about your problems on a daily basis.
5. A decisive SDR outreach
While you’re still contemplative, a perfect SDR InMail on LinkedIn from the same company sways your decision to give the tool a chance over a demo or a free trial.
The clincher here is that the things I have mentioned above can happen in any order, maybe in just one touch point; or take 10 months with SDR outreach, ABM campaigns, and a contract buyout option conspiring a Closed-Won in the CRM finally.
B2B buyer journey is like math; if it feels like a piece of cake, you’re doing it wrong!
When you assume that your buyer journey follows a linear trajectory, it reflects across your GTM efforts. And not in a good way. Because your sales and marketing teams might start over-indulging in or neglecting touchpoints.
To truly understand a non-linear B2B buyer journey (is there another kind?) you need to embrace its unpredictability (read ‘messy’).
Unlike legacy models, where prospects move seamlessly from awareness to consideration and decision, today's buyers are exposed to a lot more noise on way too many channels. This means a drop in attention spans which you might see in your analytics as bouncing off your page, skipping ads, and not clicking on that email newsletter you just sent.
B2B buyers are no longer trusting by default. Every penny they spend on tooling needs to be accounted for and that requires a certain level of skepticism while evaluating.
Naturally, they do multiple evaluations in parallel to reduce the risk factor. And get the best pick of the lot, both in terms of performance and pricing. Acknowledging this reality will help you pivot your GTM strategy to accommodate the dynamic nature of your average SaaS buyer’s journey.
Your GTM motion’s accuracy depends on how you perceive buyer journey
Many GTM teams follow linear attribution, which is quite misleading if you think about it. It’s one of the reasons sales and marketing teams lock horns over the quality of leads that get passed on.
Assuming a buyer journey just over first-touch and final-touch could basically discount all your demand gen efforts that aren’t bringing direct conversions. Point is, don’t resort to linear attribution just because it’s easily trackable.
For RevenueHero, our Chili Piper comparison page brings a lot of direct conversions. But we don’t consider it a standalone goldmine. A closer look at our HubSpot drill-downs reveal that it was just the final trigger to a longer buyer journey that touches several important bases.
A retargeting ad that differentiated us from our competitor; an SDR who reached out right before their contract renewal with another player; a LinkedIn video series that helped us get their trust over our value.
This list of influential touch points still go under the radar just because there’s no direct or secondary attribution to trace back to.
Every B2B buyer journey is unique; don’t go by plug-and-play GTM motions
At RevenueHero, we also ask our customers how they heard about us in our meeting booking form and also on our calls. The answers surprise us and validate our idea of a holistic GTM motion that prioritizes demand generation.
While self-reported attribution is not always as clean and detailed as the submission above, it helps us understand the touch points that made a lasting impression in our prospects’ minds.
That’s why we use a combination of first-touch, last-touch, self-attributed, and CRM-tracked touch points in between to make educated hypotheses about our buyer’s journey and build a GTM motion around our findings.
Bottomline: don’t give up on your demand generation efforts just because it seems like they don’t have an impact on the buyer journey.
Leverage retargeting and remarketing not just for sign ups and demos; but also for brand and product recall
SaaS buyer journeys often involve prospects revisiting your brand after initial interactions. Implement retargeting and remarketing campaigns to stay top-of-mind during these return visits.
Showcasing specific features, customer testimonials, or limited-time offers through targeted ads reinforces the benefits of choosing your product.
Ad placements are hotspots where you can grab attention. Your creatives need to stand apart and communicate value instantly to the prospect who’s just skimming through it.
But there’s also this. The one below is like a video meme that makes fun of the use-cases we solve for. The purpose of this is to create brand recall value on top of the funnel.
Notice how we aren’t sending this ad to a landing page? Demand generation can be a part of your ad strategy too!
Once you slice data and break down the engagement levels of your ad impressions, you can build a strategy to show appropriate ads to the right audience.
Most engaged can be sent a product push, while less engaged might need more warm up with thought leadership blogs, podcast clips, and other ungated resources that speak to their pain points.
How to build a GTM strategy that thrives on a non-linear B2B buying journey?
You can’t predict trigger points for a prospect before they become a part of your pipeline. Because as a GTM function, you’re investing in multiple channels at once.
Rather than attempting to control the SaaS buyer journey at every corner, you can acknowledge its unpredictability and focus on establishing a consistent and impactful presence throughout the buyer journey.
Simplify your sales channels with a seamless lead flow
This involves mapping out potential channels, interactions, and informational sources that prospects engage with during their decision-making process.
Examples of touch points with potential:
- Website forms
- Live chat widget
- Ad landing pages
- Demo and meeting forms
- Free trial forms
- In-app scheduling
- Marketing nurture sequences
- Outbound emails
That’s right, even emails are a great opportunity to reduce buyer friction. Case in point, we have a live example in RevenueHero’s 1-click magic links.
Your prospects’ journey is not completely in your control. But their inbound requests are all yours to convert.
Once they declare their intent over one of these touch points, you need to ensure you’re in complete control of their buying experience.
1. Empower high-intent prospects to book meetings instantly
Not tomorrow, not after 48 hours. If they can schedule a meeting with you today; or even ASAP, give them the option to book with you immediately instead of letting them shop around.
Without an instant scheduler, it would take about 2 days to reach out to them manually, and close to a week to agree on a meeting time with the prospect. All of this is assuming your prospect opens your follow up email when their inbox is already overflowing.
That’s a huge dent in what would have been a frictionless buyer journey until the post form-fill workflow rained on the inbound parade.
Providing a frictionless meeting booking experience across the funnel will enable your sales team to be present at critical junctures, irrespective of the order in which the buyer journey unfolds.
2. Eliminate delays in sales response with automated lead qualification
Close to 63% of a sales rep's time is spent on tasks that don’t move the revenue needle and doing lead qualification manually is a major contributor.
Imagine doing everything right across the buyer journey. You’ve strategically planned your blogs. Ad placements are on point with a retargeting strategy. Then you have ABM and every other demand gen activity to conspire the perfect buying trigger.
Only for the lead to turn cold because of a delayed first response.
At RevenueHero, we leverage our own highly custom lead qualification rules and form enrichment to vet every inbound lead by their company size, designation, decision-making, geography, market-fit, and more.
The same can be replicated for a PLG motion, where users prefer a direct trial or freemium access over a demo request. But when the need arises, like when users max out their free credits or get stuck on a particular section – in-app meeting widgets can help users match trial users with sales reps and paying customers with support agents or customer success.
Here’s an example of Mailmodo leveraging RevenueHero’s in-app scheduling to help out trial users with product adoption; and also for the eventual upselling, if they find a buying trigger.
3. Engage reluctant prospects with personalized meeting pages
Prospects can be extremely non-committal to your demand gen efforts. Sometimes, it’s down to the right SDR email that cuts through the clutter.
A good segue into your product without asking prospects for their data? Personalized meeting pages can capture the imagination of what your prospects stand to solve with your product and make sales cycles shorter.
Finally, handle objections proactively with the right messaging through the B2B buyer journey
For every feature, pricing, or competitor copy, think about the objections that would arise in your prospects’ minds. Not addressing them proactively is essentially a friction point in the buyer journey.
Understanding how people buy SaaS will help you handle these unspoken objections in the buyer journey.
For instance, how secure is your product ecosystem? Are you telling your customers about it? At RevenueHero, we make it a point to convey about SOC 2 Type 1 Certification, which is third-party data processing and privacy certification from a third-party.
We also really went all in with RevenueHero’s 1-click HubSpot integration announcement here. Not all objections and doubts from users are explicit. So, your buyer journey you craft needs to handle them organically through all your content resources.
The problem we’re solving is fine, but what about getting up to speed with the tool. Is it simple enough to adapt to it? Answer this in your content. Even better, if you have a customer vouching for you.
Lastly, implementation. How much time is the deployment going to take out your customers’ time? Depending on the product, the timeline might vary.
But make it explicit so that you don’t pull any surprises in the SaaS buyer journey. After all, GTM teams are supposed to make buying potential customers.