Customer Journey Mapping for Complex & Innovative B2B Companies

In this episode, John McTigue from Customer Journey Maestro joins us to talk about how you map the customer journey for complex B2B companies. John discusses why we need to move away from funnels or flywheels, and design customer experiences that accommodate an increasingly more complex and fragmented buyer journey. 

We also cover:

  • The five stages in the buyer journey and what happens in each of them
  • Some of the benefits of customer journey mapping
  • The process John goes through when mapping customer journies for customers


[00:00:00] Thorstein Nordby: Welcome to the customer acquisition podcast. My name is Thorstein. If you are in marketing or sales and you want to increase demand, build more pipeline and acquire more customers for a B2B product, this podcast is for you. We will mix together webinars, live streams, interviews, and everything else in audio format.

I also recommend registering for weekly Nettly Live sessions on Wednesdays at one central European time. Here we cover a different topic related to customer acquisition, such as content marketing, advertising, sales. and much more. You can sign up at Now on to this episode

Today, I'm joined by John McTier from Customer Journey Maestro. Welcome. 

John McTigue: Thank you. Good to be here, 

[00:01:00] Thorstein Nordby: For the listeners who are just meeting you for the first time. Could you share a little bit about who you are and what you do? 

John McTigue: I have a  long career, so I'll try to make it short. I spent the first 10 years of my career in the oil and gas business, which is, we were just discussing, I came to Norway a few times to work on the North sea oil projects.

So I'm familiar with your country. I love it. The next 10 or so years of my career, I started getting into sales and marketing. So I actually worked for some software companies that were selling oil and gas software. So I learned the ropes traveling around the world, working as a product marketer, directly cooperating with a sales rep and learned the ins and outs of sales.

The whole industry has always been somewhat unstable. So it's been up and down for a long time. It still is. So I got out of the industry in the late 1990s. And [00:02:00] started actually building websites. So my first sort of digital marketing was as a web developer and that's how I met my partner at Cuno creative.

So he started up an agency. In the year 2000 and we got together in 2003 and I started building websites for Kuno Creative and stayed there for 14 years and just and really enjoyed that experience, doing inbound marketing among other things I left in 2017, it was just basically time for me to go.

I think and let the company go off on its own. So they're still doing very well. And I've been consulting since then. And most recently this year, I decided to really focus on the customer journey in particular customer journey mapping, because that's when we'll discuss this, I'm sure, but that's really the foundation.

I think of a lot of problems that people [00:03:00] have with their sales and marketing. 

Thorstein Nordby: On your website. There's a great quote, building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design. So how do companies sign a great customer experience? 

John McTigue: You have to know your customers first.  You have to understand. How they behave, not only that, but what they're looking for, what their motivations are, what, how they engage with each other and with potential prospects for their businesses, as well as buying software or whatever it is to help their businesses. So that's really the art of this whole thing is getting to know your customers and there's lots of different ways to do it.

Including talking to them, that's probably number one, but also studying their behavior. So how did they engage with your team with your website? Those sorts of things. And then nowadays there's intent data, which is outside of your properties. What [00:04:00] are they doing? What are they looking for?

What are they interested in? So there's a variety of ways that really ought to be used together to understand who your customers are from there. We get to mapping and we get to the customer experience. So the whole idea is to map your strategy and your responses and your whole process to their journey,  not build a journey and force them to fit in.

So that's the gist of. 

Thorstein Nordby: You have been in sales and marketing for many years, and you're very experienced and you've probably seen all the different models and strategies and tactics come and go. Could you walk us through some of the different approaches to say some marketing that has been working and why they might not be as effective today?

John McTigue: Before inbound marketing, we were doing things basically the same way since the 1950s, which was talking to people that you knew, [00:05:00] you, everyone had a Rolodex of contacts in the industry and they would call them and they would try to forge relationships and they would send them things by mail.

There was a slow process of building relationships and B2B at least over time and trying to turn them into customers. Inbound turned that around because we now are saying, or now we were saying, and this is mid two thousands. Let's just attract them with great content, let's blog and do social media nowadays.

It's evolved into podcasting and webinars and things like that, but let's bring them to our properties, our social media profiles and our websites and so on. Because they're interested. They like what we're saying, and that's still the way we do a lot of what we're doing. The problem with inbound is that there is so [00:06:00] much competition.

Everybody does this stuff. Now, in the beginning, it was a revolution, so to speak and the ones who were early to the game were successful and can grow leads and revenues and so on pretty dramatically. But now you're competing with every company in the world that's doing this.

So inbound has become less. Successful and we've augmented it with other things. So now it's really a hybrid of inbound and outbound. We're merging sales and marketing so that all of the different approaches to reaching people are taken and you measure which ones worked the best and focus on those.

The term, the buzzword omni-channel was born at this time, this whole idea of really trying everything and seeing what sticks. And now even more, more focused than that is ABM, which is, let's figure out who we want our [00:07:00] customers to be first. Exactly. And go put together a relatively sophisticated blend of outbound and inbound to try to reach them and just focus on them instead of this big funnel with anyone who's out there coming in and trying to find out which ones are good.

Thorstein Nordby: And the new thing now is the flywheel. 

John McTigue: Yeah. Everyone's yeah. On that bandwagon. Now, the funnel was a one way ticket to being your customer. And then, who knows what happens after that? The idea is that sales, marketing and customer success are all working together to make the experience as good as it can be throughout the customer journey.

So that goes beyond sales and hopefully keeps the account live and growing forever. I think the different models can be helpful to illustrate a point, but both you and me know that the sales journey or the buyer's journey is not as linear as [00:08:00] awareness consideration decision. So how do you as a company map all different stages and touchpoints when the customer journey is not as linear as it used to be.

It is very difficult to do complex sales where you have, let's say you have five, six, maybe 10 people touching the account on your end and maybe the buying team and the support team. And so on. That's another 10, maybe 20 people on the other end. And then if you put together the engagement between all of those parties, You can see that it's a matrix it's very, can be very complicated.

Yeah. I recently read some numbers from Gartner about a typical B2B buying process. A few years ago, there were about five or six people involved. Now on average, there's 11 people involved in the B2B buying process. If you think about it, it makes sense. It depends on the type of business you're in.

[00:09:00] But if you're a relatively large company in manufacturing, for example, you've got sales, marketing, customer service, you've got product development, you've got safety, you've got shipping, you got legal, you got finance. You can rattle them off on your fingers. Yeah. And then really, if you think about it, you have to consider their customers.

That's a whole nother dimension of complexity. If the customer journey is less linear, it's more complex. There's more people involved. You are saying that we should still map out the different touch points and send prospects buyers on a journey with your company. And I think you have a very useful framework for cladding that journey out.

Thorstein Nordby: So could you walk me through the different stages? I know it begins with a discovery or more of an awareness stage. 

John McTigue: The discovery part is discovering that they need something. There's a problem. Typically something [00:10:00] that's missing, they may not be aware of that at all at the beginning. And usually they're not.

 And it comes to them in a variety of different ways. It could be that the problem surfaces itself and shows up in a report for example, or it could be that they just read about it somewhere or they talk to. Peers or friends or coworkers, something seems a little off, or maybe they're planning for the future and that they realize that there's a gap in what they're trying to do.

There's a variety of different ways that they can find out that they have a problem. But the first thing is recognizing that there's a problem. And then evaluating how significant the problem is. Is it worth doing something about it now? Or can we wait? Then you go into trying to understand more about the problem.

That's where content gets consumed. People do research on Google and elsewhere to find out who else has this problem. [00:11:00] What's, how do they solve it? How much does it cost? How long does it take to fix this problem? What do I need on my end? Who were the best vendors to try to help me with this.

So that's further along, but that's still in that same sort of discovery process after building awareness for your company and your product, you move into what you call an engagement stage. What happens at the, at this stage? So the difference there is that they actually reach out to you.

So now they're not just passively consuming content. They're actually, they want to talk to somebody. They have questions. Typically they may not be interested in a sale right away, but they want to know more. They want to, pin you down on specific applications for what they need, technical specs, those sorts of questions and.

Also typically they have questions about how much it costs and how do we pay for this and what are the options? [00:12:00] What do I need on my end, in terms of resources? How long will it take to get up and running and be successful? So those are questions really only you can answer. So during that engagement phase it's critical to answer those questions honestly, quickly.

Get the right people answering those questions, so you're not putting them off and frustrating. That's where friction comes in. You want to remove as much friction in the process as possible. So to the extent that you can have things available on the website, that's great.

Something they can find easily. Chat features so they can get answers instantly, things like that. Things that don't require a demonstration necessarily or waiting periods. Gardner has a term for this called the buyer enablement, where instead of having to ask sales for pricing, you have something like a pricing calculator or our product configuration tool on the website.

So we have less friction in the [00:13:00] sales process, right in your customer journey mapping framework. The next stage after engagement is a consideration or evaluation. What happens in this stage? Now it goes back to them. So now they're talking to their internal team, they've gathered all this information and they are discussing the pros and cons for each stakeholder in the process and the team.

That could be, of course the leadership team is going to have different questions, but the users are going to have questions. The supporters, the safety people, the IT people, everyone's going to have a hand in this process and they're going to need some sort of approval. It's a bit of a negotiation there's presentations that typically go on.

It depends on how big the sale is, but there's a lot that goes into evaluating. Do we even need this right now? That's part of it. And then how much are we willing to spend? And who's the best, [00:14:00] who are we going to select in this process? That's what you care about the most, but all the other things are important, too.

You need to be helping the buyer, enabling the buyer across this whole process to get it in your favor. The next stage in your framework is the purchasing stage and many companies, they said that they only have enough opportunities. They are really good at closing the sale, but I think many companies fail at this stage too.

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. They think it's a, the done deal once somebody says, Hey, yeah, we're ready to go. And it's not. There's still contracts that need to go back and forth and there's still support that needs to be scheduled. And there's a lot of things for things that people could come in at the last minute on their end, without your knowledge.

And try to sabotage this whole thing. So there's a lot of ways it can go South on you without your even [00:15:00] realizing before the day. What are some typical mistakes B2B companies do right before closing the sale. Just not having a really nice, thought out playbook so that everybody gets the pieces together when they need DB together.

So making sure that the proposal is airtight and it fits exactly what they want and it's delivered on time and it's discussed. And so there's all these steps that need to go through and meetings are scheduled to answer questions because no, one's just going to sign on the dotted line. The first time they receive a proposal.

In fact, they're usually compared with other proposals. So you have to be prepared at every step of that. And it can be a long period. I've seen this stage go on for years, depending on how big the contract is. 

Thorstein Nordby: If you manage to close the sale, you go into our account growth advocacy, onboarding [00:16:00] stage. What happens in this stage? 

John McTigue: First impressions, so your sales team and your, the other people on the sales team, effort on your end have been interacting with their buyers dang team, but not with the end users, typically not what their support teams and or their IT people.

And so there's a whole new process in place. Or needs to be, to familiarize everybody to onboard, to do the training and everything needs to be choreographed just as well as that purchasing, it needs to be just airtight. It needs to be a playbook that everybody is following, and doesn't have delays in it. One of the most common things is now that we got the deal done, let's schedule our onboarding meeting for a couple of weeks out. And so that leaves a bad taste in their mouth. It's because you don't have the resources available to get to it faster than that.

Thorstein Nordby: I recently signed up for a [00:17:00] software tool and the customer success person did not show up for one of our scheduled calls and I got no communication from that person after either. So I think that leaves a really bad impression and I am considering canceling, just because of a bad onboarding experience.

John McTigue: Yeah. And again, as a little as little friction as possible. So the resources on the website and communities and all that needs to be ready to go. So they can just jump in. They can self serve if they want to, they can find out what they need quickly. And if they don't have the answers, you have chats set up and customer success set up so that things get answered right away.

Thorstein Nordby: So there's a lot of talk about inbound or account based marketing and other trends, but there's not that many people talking about a customer experience and customer journey mapping. Why do you think that is?

John McTigue: No. I totally agree. Especially nowadays with the pandemic if it's shown us anything, it's that you have to [00:18:00] hang on to the customers, you have the other ones that are going to make decisions, to survive and they may not buy from you for a while, at least.

So that's really brought this to the forefront. I think. Although it should have been a long time ago. It's a big trend. And I think you're going to see a lot more people focusing on customer experience. A lot of companies don't know where to start with that though. You really have to go back to first principles.

You got to go back to what do your customers want? So it's a fundamental issue, not just throwing software at a problem. You can buy customer support software and so on. But that doesn't fix the problem. It's the process. It's the attitude. There's a lot of other things that need to go into it.

When it comes to customer journey mapping, what are the big benefits companies will see by mapping out all the different touch points across their whole customer journey. I'll look at it from a CEO's point of view. So [00:19:00] the CEO probably wants impact soon, not a long drawn out strategic overhaul process.

Nobody wants that the CEO wants something quick. So you do a customer map, customer journey map. You identify some areas that are just missing some gaps. There's some experience problems where the customers are getting what they want, or we're not meeting them where they are. We're missing opportunities.

You sit down in a room with sales, marketing, customer success, maybe product. Anyone else that has a stake in this game. And you mapped this process out. You're going to, you're going to see some obvious things that need to get fixed. So those are quick wins. Those are things you could just get on right away and fix, and maybe instantly improve your pipeline, 10, 20%, maybe more than that.

And then longer term, you're going to overall improve your win [00:20:00] rates, your close rates, because the pipeline is just, the whole experience the flywheel is actually working the way it's supposed to. You're getting better experience across the board. So you're going to win more accounts that way.

So you're going to increase sales and you're going to improve overall retention and reduce churn. So the long lifetime value is going to increase as well. So it has long-term impacts. I think it's really actually pretty difficult to do any of this. If you just take that sort of surgical approach, where you just throw software at a problem, or you hire somebody to fill that gap, it's still a matter of how these processes all work together to solve for the customer.

And if you don't have that conversation and that exercise, it's hard to do, you're still gonna have gaps. You're still gonna have roadblocks. 

Thorstein Nordby: So let's pretend you're [00:21:00] sitting down with a CEO of an industrial manufacturing company, technology company. They have a complex B2B product where the sales cycle is long.

The product is quite expensive. You have multiple decision makers involved in the sales process. How do you start mapping out the customer journey with a company like this? 

John McTigue: I would start with the champion. So who's the person that you go to when you're selling into accounts. Who's that person that's going to carry you across the goal line.

Who's the person that understands the problem and has the most obvious need and is willing to go to bat to get it. So that's the persona that you're looking for and they might have a lot of things in common. So you can build a process around or a map around those people that depending on the industry and the product to some extent is fairly consistent across the board.

And so that's what I would start [00:22:00] with. That person is the key person. If you can get that person happy, the rest is, you can figure it out. But that persona in the industry that you're really targeting is a good place to start. And then I would move on to the next two or three most important personas.

Number one would be the financial decision maker. Number two might be the person who is most likely to object in software. It's probably it because they just, they don't want to. Have any more stuff to take care of. So those three people would be a good place to start.

And then the next level would be. Let's not just map out engagement, who's doing what to communicate. Let's also map out content. How are we deploying content at each of these stages of the customer journey to enable this buyer? So you can make a content map. That's completely consistent with the journey map.

[00:23:00] And then maybe the next one is data. What data do we collect at each of those stages? What do we do with it? Where do we store it? How does it talk to, or how do these channels talk to each other? How do you collect, for example, advertising data and communicate that into the CRM so that salespeople can do something with it?

So that's another map and then another one would be metrics. What are you measuring? What's important at each stage of the journey. And you can, you should strive to simplify that as much as possible so that you can put it on a dashboard and a leadership team can understand what the hell's going on. How well are we tracking this customer journey and doing something to make it as good as it can be.

And then maybe last but not least your tech stack, how it, how are you deploying your tech stack across the customer journey? And where are the holes, if any. You know what's the next thing we need to probably invest in [00:24:00] that's right. I would take it into other dimensions. And then of course, as we talked about at the beginning, things are always more complicated.

So then you start drilling down on individual projects. This is like the sales process, individual marketing campaigns. How do you respond to customer success? Things like that. Yeah. So this is where you focus on creating content, having a content, calendar, social advertising, and so on.

And you're going to have play books. We have editorial calendars and all these other supporting things, but let's not start with those. Let's build the overall view of the customer journey first. And then do you think a lot of the time companies spend on personas is wasted or not useful? I think they start with that, which is, it could be successful, but it usually isn't because the, you start focusing on a persona just for content [00:25:00] marketing or just for, sending out content, you're going to start really over simplifying things.

Like you're going to send marketing stuff out to people who you might be in this discovery awareness phase. But are they really, maybe they're former customers, maybe they've already examined all this stuff. Maybe their competitors. You don't really know who these people are and you haven't really looked at their journey.

So you're not exactly deploying the right content to the right people. Are you just blasting it out into different silos now. Not really paying attention to what their interests are. 

Yeah, it's surprisingly typical to see if you audit a bigger technology company, industrial client. Maybe they have invested in HubSpot and I've been doing a lot of gated offers and they have been getting a lot of marketing qualified leads. So first off, a lot of the leads are of poor quality, but then they also have a very [00:26:00] poor process when it comes to following up with those leads and these products and services that they offer are worth in many cases, hundreds of thousands or maybe millions.  And it just had to see and think about how much revenue is lost in that process. 

Absolutely that whole engagement leading into the evaluation part is so commonly messed up that it's hard to say how many opportunities are lost or how much money is lost, but it's a phenomenal amount. It's astronomical.

Thorstein Nordby: So this has been a really great conversation. If people want to go and learn more about you, where can they go? What you do at the customer journey mapping work in Nagel.

John McTigue:  I would start with the website. It's just Other than that, I'm very active on LinkedIn. So you can just look me up. I'm just [00:27:00] And just, hook me up if you want to, make a connection. I'm happy to do it. We'd have a conversation or just all of my content and I'll follow yours back. Whatever it takes. 

Thorstein Nordby: Thanks for joining me, John. 

John McTigue: Thank you. Thorstein.

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