The Buyer Journey Framework

The Buyer Journey is one of the pillars of an effective B2B and ABM strategy. It’s an obsession at healthlaunchpad. We developed a buyer journey template three years ago, and we constantly refining it.

In this post, we share our buyer journey framework’s latest and greatest version and a template to help you try it out. You can download it below. This was featured in our new book, Total Customer Growth. We dedicated the whole chapter to this as it is fundamental to developing a long-term Total Customer Growth Strategy.

buyer journey template download

The Buyer Journey Framework Will Help You…

  1. Define and map the buyer collective
  2. Create a persona and why that is only the start of creating a useful buyer journey
  3. Develop a capture your team’s understanding of the champion persona’s needs and questions at the different stages of the buyer journey
  4. Create a detailed buyer journey that maps their needs and questions, including how they search for information, how to identify their buying signals, and what sources they trust
  5. Synthesize all this information into a prioritized list of issues to focus on

The buyer journey helps you understand how the individuals at your target accounts buy solutions like yours. This knowledge will frame how you develop your plan to identify in-market accounts, engage individual buyers, and convert them into customers. It will help you frame how to expand your business with them if they are already customers.

In this process, you start by defining the buyer collective—the individual roles within a target account who are involved in buying decisions—and develop personas for the key individuals. For each persona, you map out their issues as they go through a buying process, what information they need, what they search for online, and what sources of information they trust.

The Buyer Collective

There are many individuals involved in complex sales. In simple terms, there are three types of stakeholders:

  • Champions – They may often initiate the buying process. They also own the problem that the buyer collective is trying to solve and take the lead in the process. Champions are the most important stakeholder.
  • Decision-makers – The second-most important stakeholder is the decision-maker. This person usually controls the budget but may also be the champion’s boss or at least a senior executive responsible for the outcomes of the decision.
  • Influencers – There are many influencers, and they are typically involved throughout the process. They provide opinions and requirements and can sway the way the champion leads the process.

You need to define the buyer collective for each of your ICPs. Once you have defined the buyer collective, the next step is to create personas for members of the multiple buyer collectives.

The Buyer Journey Process

There are five steps in defining outlined in our buyer journey template:

  1. Create the buyer persona
  2. Define their issues and questions
  3. Determine what information they need
  4. Identify what they search for
  5. Define their trusted sources of information

We believe this process should include sales, marketing, and customer representatives. And if you can afford the time and investment, these steps should be informed by customer insight interviews.

buyer journey template download

Step 1 – Create the Buyer Persona

Your aim is to create a persona that is as real and credible as possible. You are trying to fashion an artifact that will be used to train people to understand the buyer. It can also be used to gain alignment when discussing issues related to target audiences.

Here is an example of a persona:

persona template

As you can see, a typical persona includes:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Where they work
  • Their responsibilities
  • Their role in the buying process

The latter point is based on customer insight gleaned from the team’s collective expertise and possibly customer research.

Step 2 – Define Their Issues and Questions

Now, we get into the most important step in this process—defining what is important to them and what they need to get answers to as they go through their buying process.

We break this into four buyer stages that the buyer collective goes through:

  1. Problem definition – The buyer collective is trying to frame the problem they are trying to solve as specifically as possible.
  2. Solution definition – Once they have agreed on the problem they are solving, the buyer collective evaluates different types of solutions
  3. Vendor evaluation – They compare different options that address the solution they seek to implement.
  4. Decision-making – Lastly, the buyer collective needs to align and decide which vendor to appoint.

In this step, you brainstorm the questions and issues you think the persona is trying to get answers to. Try to be disciplined about what the buyer is looking for rather than what you hope they are looking for.

One of the most important topics is what triggers them to start investigating the problem. What is happening in their business that brought this problem up to the top? What has made this a priority? Is there a compelling event that kicked things off?

Here is what this might look like:

Buyer journey template

Step 3 – Determine What Information They Need

The next step is to brainstorm the types of information they need.

Put yourself in the champion’s shoes, and think about the type of information that will help them as they work with the rest of the buyer collective. Think beyond the content you can create. While they might find that useful, they also look for information outside your domain.

This could include:

  • Market research
  • Analysts’ reports
  • Articles by key opinion leaders
  • Conference presentations
  • The opinions of people in their network
  • Buying guides
  • RFP frameworks
  • Customer reviews
  • Implementation guides

Step 4 – Identify What They Search For

For most of the buyer journey, the champion and influencers will NOT be on your website or speaking with your salespeople. They search and browse the internet for information that helps them long before they engage with you.

Two key questions to answer in creating the buyer journey:

  • What search terms and key phrases will they use as they research?
  • What intent topics are available and relevant to the buyer journey you are working on?
buyer journey temaplte pt2

Step 5 – Define Their Trusted Sources of Information

The last step to define what sources they trust as they search for information to help them in their quest to find the best solution.

As you can see in the buyer journey example above, this includes trade shows, conferences, and various types of publications.

Once you have conducted the workshop to create the buyer journey, document it as a shareable asset and use it as a training tool for sales, marketing, and customer success.

Would you like to see an example of a completed Buyer Journey?

Now You Have Completed the Buyer Journey Template, What’s Next?

Your next steps will be to create content and campaigns that address the issues that surfaced in the buyer journeys. In this blog post we explain how to create a buyer journey-driven marketing plan.

If you are interested or need help, we can help you on your Total Customer Growth journey. We have helped several clients develop buyer journeys.

Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Check out more posts like this in the Healthtech MarketingLearning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your ABM journey.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
  3. Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.
And if you are interested in the book, you can buy it here. We wrote this as a comprehensive practical guide to ABM, ABX, and Total Customer Growth. The book includes how-tos, strategic rationales, examples, and references to resources to help in your journey.

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Adam Turinas

Adam Turinas is a long-time technology marketing leader and entrepreneur. He is the co-author of the Total Customer Growth book and founder of Total Customer Growth LLC. Adam spent two decades marketing for Dell, IBM, Bank of America, and dozens of other major marketers. In 2012 he founded, grew, and eventually sold a healthcare technology software business and then created healthlaunchpad, a leading healthtech marketing firm that teaches clients how to use ABM.