How to Develop a Buyer Journey Framework

Written by
Tony Yang
Buyer Journey

In a previous post, I introduced the concept of a Buyer Journey Decision Framework. In this post, I’ll dive deeper into the framework that I like to use the most, which is one that was introduced to me by SiriusDecisions/Forrester Research as part of their product marketing & messaging practice.

As I mentioned before, this buyer journey framework is NOT the same as the Waterfall Lifecycle or Sales/Marketing Funnel. The former is a framework that represents the decision-making process that a prospect will go through when evaluating and buying a solution, while the latter is a methodology for tracking the sales and marketing process. These two are not the same thing. Thus, a key point to consider is that the Buyer Journey Framework should be written from the POV of the persona and NOT from the POV of the company, while the sales/marketing funnel is where in the sales cycle the company believes the prospect is in.

Below is a graphic that shows how the buyer journey framework aligns the messaging across your buyers to your offerings.

A lot of companies have a pretty good idea of the benefits of their products and respective value propositions. They may even talk about their products and offerings in terms of solutions to use cases or jobs to be done. Basically the left side of the graphic above. And, if they've done their research, they probably have a good idea who their target market and audience is on the right side of the graphic above. They've done some homework on who their ideal customer profile is, the type of companies that they're trying to sell into. And, many probably also have a pretty good idea of who their target personas are, the buying center personas, i.e., who are the decision makers, end users, key influencers, economic buyers, etc.

Now what sits in the middle is how you connect these two ends, your target audience and the products and solutions that you're trying to sell. And how you do that is by understanding what kind of messages to put in front of those people because you want to offer the right message to the right target at the right time. And "right time" should be specific to where that particular prospect is in their decision making process as described along this buyer journey framework.

The purpose of this framework, therefore, is to provide a better understanding of the pain points and challenges faced by a particular persona, and their decision-making thought process to arrive to a decision to solve for that need. Applying this framework is foundational to establishing the proper messaging for each persona across their decision-making process. 

How This Buyer Journey Decision Framework Works

Once the Ideal Customer Profile (the type of company to target) and Persona (the type of person to target) have been identified, the next step is to develop this buyer journey framework for each Persona & ICP segment so that we can have a deep understanding of what drives that particular Persona to make a purchase decision.

There are six stages to this Buyer Journey Framework from SiriusDecisions. They are as follows:

  1. Loosening the Status Quo. At this stage, the goal is to help the persona be connected to the business issue pertaining to their role. In other words, making sure the persona is informed of the pain point or challenge that you as a solution provider can potentially help solve. One way to do this is to paint a picture of their current world versus the future world…i.e., old versus new.  The old/existing reality for them is painful; the new reality is so much better. The persona wants to be in this new reality. The key here is to not focus on the products or offerings, but rather focus on the pain.
  2. Committing to Change. At this stage, the persona has been convinced that there is a pain point that s/he cares about. The key here is to then cause the persona to take action to change his/her current reality by pinpointing the idea or concept that will persuade him/her to take action…which is to begin exploring possible solutions to solve the pain. This is effectively done when a sense of urgency is created – if there is no urgency, then the persona will not likely be committed to change.
  3. Exploring Possible Solutions. At this stage, the persona will begin to explore possible solutions to solve the urgent pain realized from the first two stages of the journey. It is at this stage where the persona will be keen to understand whether or not your offerings will meet the persona's need or solve his/her problem. The emphasis here should be on helping the persona understand the benefits of how your solutions solve that pain.
  4. Committing to a Solution. At this stage, the persona may likely be considering various alternative solutions. The key here is to help the persona realize key points of differentiation that addresses his/her pain NOT ONLY in a unique way from other alternatives, but ultimately how those points of differentiation provide value to him/her and their organization. In other words, there’s no point in getting the persona to understand what makes your solution different from others if they don’t care about those differentiators. Only then will the persona commit to your solution rather than an alternative.
  5. Justifying the Decision. At this stage, the persona will be evaluating your solution based on his/her decision criteria. A part of this process may involve building a business case or rationale for investing in your solution that may be shared with other stakeholders.
  6. Making the Selection. At this stage, the persona is moving forward with selecting your offering as the solution of choice. The goal at this stage is to reinforce in the persona that they’ve made the correct choice. This is typically done by getting to persona to trust your company as a partner who can deliver on the value promised (such as through industry recognition, proof of success with similar customers served through case studies or peer testimonials, etc.) as well as instilling confidence in the persona that they will be on the path to success (such as through onboarding plans, expectations and methods of communications with client success teams, etc.). 

As we can see, arriving at the decision to buy is a process that each persona needs to go through, and different personas care about different things. Thus, we will need to identify the key thoughts or ideas – “value statements” in this framework – that the persona needs to understand at each stage in order for him/her to progress to the next stage. This critical component of identifying the value statements is how to then take all the hard work spent on understanding the ICP and Personas into developing specific messaging that can be applied across the buyer journey. 

An example of how this applies is with SDR outreach sequences. Prior to applying this framework, a common pattern in SDR outreach messages is simply to introduce themselves, the company’s product offerings, perhaps list a few well-recognized customer names, and then ask for a very sales-oriented call-to-action such as “let’s schedule a live demo or discovery call”. This type of message may be perfectly fine IF the prospect is already at the “Exploring Possible Solutions” stage, but if the prospect isn’t there yet then that message will fall on deaf ears. Instead, the messages sent by the SDR for prospects at earlier stages of the buyer journey should be focused on reinforcing the pain point, challenging their status quo by painting a picture of old vs new, creating a sense of urgency, etc. 

In the next post, I will talk about next steps you can take to operationalize the Buyer Journey Framework.

Did you like this post and found it informative? If so, I would really appreciate it if you would share this to your network (i.e., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, telling your mother…) using the share links on this page. Feel free to mention me @tones810 to share your thoughts on this topic with me – I’m always open to hearing other points of view and new ways of doing things!

Also, consider subscribing below if you’d like to receive updates on new posts and articles as they get published. Thanks for taking this journey with me! 

Tony Yang

Tony is a long-time marketer with over 17 years experience in B2B SaaS companies. While he started his marketing career at IBM, for the past 14 years he's been leading marketing and revenue operations at various startups, including Mintigo (acquired by Anaplan), Qordoba (rebranded to, and Conversion Logic (acquired by VideoAmp). He's been recognized as a thought leader and speaker on various topics such as ABM, PLG, marketing ops and revops, growth, and B2B marketing at past events including GTM Summit, FlipMyFunnel and SiriusDecisions. In addition, he is the Head of Growth at Mucker Capital and also serves as a coach and mentor at several startup accelerator programs.


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