The Buyer Journey Framework- Tony Yang


Tony Yang talks about how the buyer’s journey is outlined. He talks about the various stages of the buyer’s journey and the different frameworks that have been developed over time. He also points out the differences between the marketing/sales funnel and the buyer’s journey framework.


Tony Yang is a deeply experienced marketing leader in B2B SaaS and AI. He is a tech-savvy and data-driven marketer who possesses a unique blend of high-level strategic planning, brand building, and team management skills as well as the ability to execute campaigns on a tactical level as an individual contributor.


“But essentially the idea is to create activity base score aligned to the content that reinforces the particular buyer journey. Now, this is how you can tie in your activity scores and persona and company grades to let’s say, if que el status or Sal stat right. For me, I like to look at or set up an MQL status to look for whether or not a prospect has consumed content or enough content that is educating them along the length of leasing and status quo or highlighting in particular pain point and creating a sense of urgency, no content aligned towards those in the increase their activity score for those categories.”

“Now the thing that I wanted to make sure you point out is that marketing is sales funnel is essentially what we believe prospect is going through and their discussions with us and part of the sales cycle vector to the buyer themselves, their point of view, be at a completely different stage of decision making process, then what we believe they are. The ideal scenario is those two things are aligned pretty well meaning their marketing sales and sales funnel is well aligned to where the prospect your potential buyer is that decision making process is not always the same.”

Key Points

  1. Make sure that your marketing funnel is well aligned with the buyer’s journey 
  1. Understanding the buyer’s journey will create urgency in solving pain points 
  1. Auditing content will help people see how the buyer’s journey can be improved.  


Well hello everyone. My name is Tony Yang. I am the co founder of Rev optica, which is a buyer journey analytics platform for b2b And I suppose it’s only appropriate that I will be talking to you today about buyer journey of frameworks and how we can help you create better messaging. Let’s just jump right in. Well, first, let me give you a little bit more background about myself. I mentioned my name is Tony Yang, co founder revoptica. I also serve as the fractional cmo and marketing consultant for a couple of different companies, difficult couple of startups, and yeah, helping them with various things related to messaging demand gen, row revenue operations. My background has been primarily in b2b marketing. As you can see here, I’ve had over 16 years in b2b marketing last 14 years, of which we’re working for a number of different venture backed startups. The most notable one would be Ventigo where I was VP of demand gen and rubox and the company was eventually acquired by Anaplan. We were in the predictive analytics or marketing space. On this I also serve as entrepreneur coach and mentor and a couple of accelerator programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. And you know, if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter, actually, if you want to share anything, that’s what we’ll be talking to talk about today. Be retweeting some of this stuff. Feel free to connect with me and share as well. My handle is halftones 810 on both LinkedIn and Twitter as well. And you can see you can also reach out to the rev optica handle as well shown them well. Okay, so not with the boring stuff. Let’s jump right into the the good part of presentation. Buyer journey decision process frameworks. That’s a mouthful. I think most of us in marketing and even in sales are familiar or have heard of common frameworks like Ada, awareness, interest, desire and action on the upper left. There’s been different variations throughout the years, one of the bottom lab, interest research, purchase, I’ve heard of awareness, consideration, desire, action or solution. There’s just been a number of things. The one on the bottom right if we were to go counterclockwise is another framework that was introduced by his name, man named John Dewey, back in 1910. And this framework, got a lot of recognition, five different stages. You can see here, the one framework that I personally like to use is the one on the upper right framework that is introduced or has been talked about by serious decisions, which is an analyst firm that many of us in b2b are well aware of. They got acquired or merged with Forrester Research not too long ago. And one of their practices was around messaging. I was fortunate enough to be one of their clients many years ago. And a lot of the stuff that I learned from them that I’ll be talking about today is around the fire journey framework that that they’ve introduced. So I really like our framework again, there’s different frameworks for different people. The one thing that I do want to point out, especially on this slide, there’s one takeaway that you leave with this discussion today. Is that the funnel what you know, as the funnel, marketing and sales funnel by lifecycle stages, that’s not the same thing as the buyer journey decision making process or the buyer journey framework. And I’ll tell you why. So, first of all, I think almost all of us especially if you’re listening to this, through the different communities that Sophie shown on the funnel is not a new thing. You probably have a pretty well defined funnel or set of stages within your funnel. Very common ones I have no there’s different variations of it throughout the years. That siriusdecisions themselves have introduced with regards to marketing and buying a unit of the man unit or what they call it these days, but more or less, many of us have some variation of the funnel that shown here. The two MQL marketing qualified lead Sal sales, accepted lead SQL sales, qualified lead, and then your different opportunity stages if you’re using Salesforce CRM terminology built within their product, but some of us have variation.And that’s fine. Now the thing that I wanted to make sure you point out is that marketing is sales funnel is essentially what we believe prospect is going through and their discussions with us and part of the sales cycle vector to the buyer themselves, their point of view, be at a completely different stage of decision making process, then what we believe they are. The ideal scenario is those two things are aligned pretty well meaning their marketing sales and sales funnel is well aligned to where the prospect your potential buyer is that decision making process is not always the same. And they’re not always well aligned. Ideally, they would be now there’s plenty of times where I’ve seen symptoms of those two things, misaligned. I see this. I’ve seen this a lot when I was working in house at a couple of different companies, and also as a consulting these days. And some of these systems include things like alright, well, if a BDR had to pick up BDR they own the BDR function, a couple of different companies. VDRs or SDR function of common symptom of that is an SDR with typically sent messages that are more or less the same across the board. And I’ve been on the receiving end, and I’m sure many of you have been on the receiving end of these messages as well through LinkedIn. messages or it’s cold emails. And it goes something like, Hey there, my name is so and so. I work at this particular company, we do this. And maybe some of them might take it a little bit step further and say we do it differently than the next nearest competitor. And then they name drop, maybe three of their flagship customers, and then they hit hit you with a very salesy call to action, which is something along the lines of what does your schedule look like in the next day or two for 15 minutes or 20 minutes. In reality, we’ll probably end up taking half an hour to an hour of your time, but more or less, it’s all the same. Right? And it’s not surprisingly, it’s not surprising that most of time, that kind of message doesn’t, doesn’t work, it doesn’t get the attention of your prospect. The reason for that is because the prospect may be an early part of the buyer journey than you thought they would be, or it doesn’t. The message doesn’t take into consideration that the buyer is at the beginning part of the buyer journey, right? You’re assuming that they’re at the stage where they’re willing to speak to you, the ones that actually do respond. To those message in a favorable way. You just happen to get lucky, right? Like you just happen to reach out to a prospect who is probably somewhere here in their buying decision process. They’re already exploring possible solutions because they’ve gone through the process of the earlier stages of loosening status quo or understanding that they have a pain point that needs to be addressed. And they’re ready to make that change now. Therefore, they’re starting to explore what are the solutions out there, and they may even be already talking to a vendor in which case they’re probably further down the buyer inefficient process. At any rate you just got lucky when someone respond. You didn’t know that they were at that stage right. And so it’s extremely important to understand the concept that the buyer journey framework where the decision process is a completely different type of thing than your sales funnel. Yeah. Ideally, that would be aligned. I will go more in detail and show you an example. But I’ll just give you a quick overview of this framework, right and you can learn more if you go to serious decisions or foresters website and if you’re a client of theirs, I highly recommend that you speak to one of their experts on this particular framework. And but at a high level, if a prospect is at the beginning part of the buyer journey. The whole goal is for your messaging is to loosen the status quo. Get them to think about the world differently. I don’t know if you have heard of Simon Sinek and watch his TED talk about the why or read his book about the Why or, you know, watch the video on YouTube when he talks about the Golden Circle. There’s something that I like to do every year so it’s a great refresher for myself. I watch it every year. And essentially he talks about great companies talk about the why. And it’s a kind of like a concentric circle type of thing. Looks like a bull’s eye. The normal or regular or companies that don’t stand out they only focus on the way we do this. In slightly better companies go into the how talk about differentiators and how they’re different, how they how they solve but really, he started talking about the why you’re basically paying a picture of the old world versus New World. You may have heard of Annie Raskin or like pretty famous example or post that was published in the past where he talked about the best sales Nikes ever seen, which was Zara a company that does Sass billing platforms, right. And he said that they were it was the best sales that he’s ever seen because they talk about the why they didn’t talk about the why. At least not initially. They really focus on telling a story of here’s the old world. Here’s the new world drift as another company has done a fantastic job of this as well. They were I think they were the second best films that he’s ever seen. But there’s things to be learned from that from those two examples, which is how do you connect the persona that you’re targeting or the fire to a particular pain point our business issue around talking about the old world versus that’s all higher purpose of your messaging. If if your prospect is at the beginning stage, loosening the status quo, you’re not selling product, you’re not selling your solution. You’re only talking about this major pain point that they should be paying to pay attention to. And as you move down the spectrum or these stages, right, like sometimes I think of the six stages as a spectrum, as opposed to the six stages. You can think about that way but as they move down to the next stage change, that stage is about convincing the prospect that they need to address that particular pain point, or move into this new world that you’re trying to paint a picture of today, not six months from now, today, and that’s actually another symptom that I have seen. To be pretty common when let’s just say, you know, an SDR BDR. Yes, your prospect to take a demo, right with the account executive with one of your sales reps. And at the end of the call the sales reps, ask the prospect. So you know what do you think the next steps are? And the prospect response by saying something like, Well, you know, I’ve got a lot on my plate. We’ve got to handle a lot of these other areas. Why don’t you reach back out to me and six to nine months from now. o me, that’s a symptom that they have not been convinced that the status quo is strong enough, or at least their status quo needs to change. And that pain point needs to is strong enough for them to address the day. Right but clear example. They haven’t been convinced. They need to address that pain point today. There’s no sense of urgency and so if you understand the buyer journey, and and specifically for each of your prospects, have you craft your messaging to guide them down from one station, and the whole point is that guidance at that particular stage to the next stage to the next station. We can’t assume and make them jump ahead is they’re not there yet. Right? So I know I went along on that. The slide I want to bring up because a lot of companies have a pretty good idea of their products and they talk about the products and the benefits and you know the stuff on the left side, where they may even talk about their product offering in terms of things like use cases or solutions or jobs to be done right? This particular example, this is work that I did for Robin robotic process automation company RPA company and see that they have four different use cases for four different types of Persona, if you will, right. And they’ve got that pretty well locked down. Companies also typically do a pretty decent job of understanding their target audience right like who their ideal customer profile. They’re the type of companies that we’re trying to sell into, right. And, by the same token, many companies also have a decent idea or a pretty good idea who their target personas are the buying center personas who are the decision makers who are the end user, the key influencers, right?They’ve got, you know, perhaps a pretty document that outlines who their key personas are and maybe gave them a fancy name or something like that. Now, what sits in the middle is how you connect those two things, your target audience and the product solutions that you’re trying to sell. If that’s how you do that is understanding what kind of messages to put in front of those people the right message to the right target at the right time, and right time, as it relates to where they are in their decision making process along the buyer journey. Right. And so, let me just walk you through one quick example. Again, this is the RPA company. In this case, this is an example of you know, they’re trying to sell into head of people I’m persona basically someone who is in charge of helping you employees be onboard, right? So they’ve got their ICP and Persona pretty well dialed in. Now, the buyer journey has guide that part, that type of Persona, down to decision making process where they’re then at the end of the buying decision. They’re making a selection by your offering your product or solution. The key here to understanding how to guide them through this whole framework is to identify value statements for each of the buyer journey stages. value statements are essentially the key thought or key thoughts or topics that you want to have your key prospect think about, move them from that particular stage to the next. Here’s an example right and I won’t go through every single example here, but let’s just say from the beginning part of the buyer journey, loosening the status quo for the head of people present who is in charge of overseeing onboarding for a company, right that the pain point could be. The current onboarding process takes too long and affects new hires time to productivity. Maybe it takes three months for new hires. Be fully onboard going through all these different training programs and, you know, getting them set up systems access to it tools, things like that getting their laptop, especially these days, with a pandemic, people working remotely. Like there’s a lot of things to get people on board. And so, in today’s world, it’d be for this particular company or this persona, that two months, three months of time, a person fully ramped up right now committing to change. How do you talk about why they need to address that pain point today? And why should be a pain point that they need to look into and how you do create a sense of urgency? Well, key value statement could be around if you don’t improve or we don’t approve this new onboarding process. Our new hires will feel like they’re not valued. That you know, the company doesn’t take you on new hire, onboarding seriously. New employees might feel a little bit lost and that they have to fend for themselves or, you know, learn to swim or sink right like and that potentially could lead to things like high employee turnover, or potentially even affect your recruiting process. Because as people talk about the company externally, like other potential candidates that you’re trying to hire me here when that it takes a while for them to be on boarded, and they’re not well supported and all that stuff. There’s a lot of potential pain points that you can speak to around That’s right. And so knowing these value statements helps you then figure out like what are the key things that you want to or knowing that the different stages, identify the value statements will help you understand what kind of key points or key facts or key messages you want to put in front of the persona stage of the buyer journey, right and so you’re guiding them now this process right. Okay. Now, the next step that I typically like to take, after we have identified the ICP and persona to to certain degree, and we’ve created these value statements for each of these buyer personas and ICP, we’ve identified each of these value statements, then I’d like to do a content audit and asset mapping exercise and what that basically entails is, I create a list see it, it will be viewed as in a spreadsheet, whatever works for you. I catalog all the existing assets and content that’s available that speaks to like different target audiences, right. And it can be blocos. It could be ebooks, white papers, webinars, videos, etc, etc. Data Sheets, case that is whatever. The point isn’t to identify the type of content that’s terms of the medium. The point is to align the content itself in terms of what the core topic is, to the value statement for particular persona for particular stage, right. And so the idea is okay, if we have this ebook, that talks about this particular topic, does it support the value statement of bringing the this particular persona from loosing as the status quo stage to committing this change? Does it reinforce that value state? And doing this exercise, there’s a couple of different things. Number one, it helps you identify exactly what kind of content you already have available at your disposal to serve to various types of prospects. aligned towards a particular process persona, and a buyer journey. You can start utilizing that right away. It gives you insight on how to craft things like email nurture programs, rather than just creating a series of emails as an example that just randomly offers content every week or so. Why don’t you Why not be much more prescriptive with the types of content to guide your prospect down decision making process so that they’re convinced that they need to, you know, solve this particular pain point, then they’ll be more willing to talk to a sales rep, guide them down this process? Right. So first off, it helps you understand what you have available and aligned your existing assets and content to the right person to the right stage. The other thing that it does is it helps you uncover gaps in the content, right. So you know, as a marketing leader, I’ve had to run and own, you know, content marketing teams, right. And a lot of times, they can use insights or guidance on what to write well, this is a fantastic way to provide them a roadmap on here’s the next set of content assets that we need you to help right and it’s not about one page sheet, those are mediums and content. I want them to focus on what topics to reinforce, or which persona right and so you can see here, you know, this is just a simple pivot table that we would do after this exercise is done mapping all the assets. You can see here very clearly that hey, we’ve got a lot of content that’s geared towards this particular type of Persona, around these types of buyer journey stages, right? Great, we can start utilizing those right away. Now what we are missing are these assets are assets. So we do this project of persona for these buyer journey stages, right and so right away, you can see what kind of gaps you need to fill and gives your content game as your product marketing teams. A roadmap on what to do right. Now, I could spend a lot of time on this. Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of time, but a typical question asked to me when we finished creating the buyer journey frameworks and identify the value statements and create a new asset right now right how does the rubber and how do we identify where a prospect is? Their buyer journey? Yeah, we could identify where they are in terms of the funnel stages and go oh, we have certain definition, Sal, etc, etc. But how do you align those two things as I talked about before, right and so, lead scoring is a great way to utilize the great features utilized to help you align your buyer journey stage with your marketing funnel, and explain why. Now, early in my career, when I was the main person managing say Marketo instance or HubSpot instance, I would create BASIC scores, right? Granted, I had the luxury of working for a predictive analytics provider like Indigo. We did predictive lead scoring, but aside from that, like for the most part, a lot of companies have to go through you know crawl phase to get the walk phase walk into a running train. So just simply getting started with a lead scoring model. You just have to get something up and running. That is along the lines of if someone downloaded a white paper 10 points or you know whatever arbitrary number if they fill out a requested demo for 25 points, and you know, maybe if someone visits let’s say the careers page, perhaps have a signal that they’re not a buyer, they’re a job seeker. So subtract a certain number of points, right? Okay, that’s all well and fine, but a better way. A better way. of crafting a lead scoring model to help align your buyer journey stages is to create activity scores in the base scores that are aligned to the persona and ICP for particular stage right so I’m a huge advocate of splitting up your lead score. into different types of scores what I call it a company grade or company score doesn’t have to be a grade or a letter letter grade, it could be a point system, but the company grade or score is meant to help you identify whether a prospect is the right ICP fit. You can see here a grade of A his target account, right? The tier one target account, so on and so forth, right. For the persona person, you can have a persona score or grade if you well, sometimes I just find it, you know, straightforward enough, just to have, let’s just say a picklist value for a persona data field, right? And you identify here are the different types of key personas that we’re targeting. And then you create logic in your your scoring model to match whether it’s by job title or if you have, you know, a data provider will look at whatever data they provide related job department or job level in terms of organizational chart hierarchy and stuff like that. You could use those type of data points to bucket your prospects into a certain persona. That whole idea is that you want to have a fit score for both company and for the person because you potentially have a prospect that works for the right company. Terms of ICP fit, but you’re talking to the wrong person. And vice versa. You might be talking to the right person, person likely the right persona, but it could be at a company that you’re targeting for long, right so a set of scores that help you identify fit. Now, then I will create a whole series of just activity based scores but the activity based scores should be related to a particular persona. And I would create those activity score based off the fire journey stages and you know, using the serious decision monitor six stages that might be a little bit overkill. In the past I’ve combined you know, let’s just say the buyer journey stages one and two into one activity score. The next two stages three and four into a secondary activity score five and six. So there’s three activity scores. And the idea behind this is that you want to identify actions and content that they consume yet remember going back to that previous slide, we did the content and asset map. If you have the ability to destructure content, let’s say on your website that’s hosted content is hosted on your website. Along the lines of hey, this this piece of content is geared for this persona, and it’s well suited for reinforcing value statements for losing the status quo. If you could identify that, then you’re simply crafting a lead scoring model to add points for that particular persona for these pieces of content for that particular activity, this case, increase activity score, one for loosening sasco stage by anyone for 20. Right, and we won’t go into the different logic you can set up and let’s say a Marketo or HubSpot or Pardot or what have you. Maybe that could be a follow on session. But essentially the idea is to create activity base score aligned to the content that reinforces the particular buyer journey. Now, this is how you can tie in your activity scores and persona and company grades to let’s say, if que el status or Sal stat right. For me, I like to look at or set up an MQL status to look for whether or not a prospect has consumed content or enough content that is educating them along the length of leasing and status quo or highlighting in particular pain point and creating a sense of urgency, no content aligned towards those in the increase their activity score for those categories. Enough to hit a certain threshold. That’s where I say alright, that’s where they’ve invented they’re ready to talk to let’s say an SDR sales rep. And at that point, that’s when they cross the MQL question. That’s how I’ve done in the past and I find have found that to be a much better way of applying a lead score your score content. Alright, so there’s a lot to that to actually set it up does require a lot of work by your robots or marketing ops person. But the whole idea is understanding the buyer journey will help you do a better job of putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time. So you’re no longer just sending out messages. Saying hey, we’re so and so we do this. They’ve dropped through customer logos and asked for a sales the callback, there’s a time in place for that. That’s when a buyer our prospect is in stage three, four or five of their buyer journey. But you know, understanding by your age is absolutely critical. Okay. I think I went a little bit longer than I intended. You can learn a lot more about this topic. If you go to this URL that you see here. I posted a series of blogs, we’re going to be creating some additional content possibly even getting, creating some free templates for how you can do this by returning framer hornpipe with my attorney framer. Make it free I won’t even need it. I will make you sign up and fill out a form to get access to this. You know, I just want people to learn because I also learn from others as well right? So if this interest if this topic was of interest to you, you learn something new and you want to dive a little bit deeper. Go to revoff.comford/buyer/journeyframework And hopefully by then I’ll have a good number of content that helps helps you learn more about this topic. Again, if you want to reach out to me, yes Twitter or LinkedIn, find me at Jones a pen. Check off my company’s very sparse Twitter and LinkedIn account you can rub off calm, but again don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m interested in just building community and learning from each other. Right? This is what it’s all about. So hope you found this helpful. And yeah, see you on the other side. Take care.