Mapping your Customer’s Journey

…and how it will help you tighten up your sales procedures!

Successful and self-aware salespeople are always looking for ways to refine and improve their practices. Today, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite reflective practices: mapping a typical customer’s journey. I’ll describe how this has helped me so you can see how I used mapping the journey of one customer to improve my perspective on all customers to come.

I’m a very visual person, so I have a huge whiteboard in my office that I installed myself (much to my landlord’s dismay) as soon as I moved spaces. This becomes my “vision board” on a daily basis. To map my customer’s journey, I started with a typical inquiry. I’m a fairly established preneed insurance salesman, so most of my new clients come to me based on referral. My first contact with an average client starts when I get a voicemail message from “Terry” stating that she is interested in my services, because her friend worked with me a couple of years ago.

To properly map a customer’s journey, it’s important to view each interaction from the customer’s perspective. I try to place myself in Terry’s shoes and imagine what her expectations and emotions are. When I call her back, I discover that her father has just died, and she spent all of her savings on his funeral. My immediate reaction is, “Well that could have been prevented…” or “Everyone knows that…” But to see how Terry is feeling, I rethink my response. I take some notes on my whiteboard about how it would be to have nothing in savings all of a sudden. I write down what I remember about when I lost my own father. I circle a statement I write about how brave this woman is being to reach out at a time when she is financially burdened and emotionally fragile. Suddenly I see her motivation very clearly: she doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her boys when she passes away.

Knowing these details about Terry helps me plan an experience tailored personally to her. I followed up several times, just to casually check in on how she was doing. I called the funeral director that handled her father’s funeral to get some information from him. I scheduled an in-person meeting about 3 weeks after her initial outreach—way longer than I would normally take, but I could see that she needed that time. When I really looked at this meeting through her perspective, I could see how nervous she might be, and how uncomfortable.

By plotting out this journey, I noticed that I often leave too much time after the first face-to-face meeting, because I feel like I don’t want to pressure the client. However, from Terry’s perspective, this could be seen as a cold shoulder, or like I’m too busy for her. Setting my timeline based on my customer’s journey has helped me look at the personal aspect of my job and focus on the individuals I’m trying to help. This has re-centered my attention and reset my attitude several times over my career! Try it out for yourself: I promise it will lead you to discoveries you need to make.

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