buying with card

Understanding The Buyer’s Journey

Do your customers just wake up one day ready to buy your product? 

Of course not! 

Every buyer goes through a journey that leads them to a final purchase. This is true of nearly every purchase, from cheeseburgers, to automobiles, to computer software.

We call this process “The Buyer’s Journey.” And it’s a key concept to understand when it comes to creating a digital sales strategy. 

What is the Buyer’s Journey?

The buyer’s journey refers to the steps a customer goes through to make a purchase decision. It typically consists of the following stages:

  • Problem Awareness – The buyer becomes aware that they have a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Solution Research – The buyer researches potential ways to solve the problem.
  • Decision Making – The buyer makes the financial decision of which product or service to purchase.
  • Post-Purchase – The buyer evaluates their purchase and implements the solution. 

The buyer’s journey is path dependent, with one stage leading the next. And while there may be some cases where buyers skip stages, our bounces around, they generally follow something similar to this standard buyer’s journey. 

Let’s explore each of those stages in more detail, and use the purchase of a cheeseburger as an example.

Problem Awareness

This is the very first stage when your prospects discover they have a problem or an opportunity to address. This is where they go from unawareness to awareness. 

In problem awareness, your buyers start to ask a lot of “why” questions:

  • Why is this not working?
  • Why is this process important? 
  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • Why am I not getting the results I want?

If we were buying a cheeseburger, this is the stage where we start to feel hungry. We feel a rumbling in our stomach and become aware that it might be time to eat. We check the clock, and it’s 11:45, lunchtime! 

Solution Research

Once the buyer understands they have a problem, the next stage is where they try to understand the approaches, methods, or products that can best help them solve their problems. This is the solution research phase.

In this stage, the buyer starts to ask questions of “how” and “what” will be used to address their problem:

  • What tools are available? 
  • What are industry best practices? 
  • What are the options for implementing?
  • How should this be fixed/implemented? 

In our cheeseburger example, this stage is where we think about what we can eat. Would a protein bar be enough? Do we have food in the fridge? Should I drive to a restaurant? What restaurants are nearby? If we realize we need a full meal and don’t have food in the fridge, then we determine a restaurant is our best option. 

Decision Making

Now that buyer knows what solution they want, it’s time for them to make a decision. In this stage, the buyer will create a shortlist of final purchase options, and pick a vendor to buy from.

In this stage, the buyer asks “who” they should work with. They start asking questions like:

  • Who has the best options?
  • Who has a price that will get me an ROI?
  • Who has proof of success?
  • Who can I trust?

In our cheeseburger example, this is where we decide which restaurant we want to go to. We narrow down that we want something quick, relatively inexpensive, and filling… A cheeseburger? We go through the drive-through at our local burger joint, confirm what we want on the menu, and place our order for a double cheeseburger.


And the final stage of the buyer’s journey is post-purchase, where your buyer evaluates the purchase and continues your relationship. This stage is often overlooked, but it’s a critical part of the lifetime value of an account and the ability to generate referrals.

In this stage, the buyer asks questions regarding their experience of the purchase, such as:

  • Did I make the change successfully? 
  • How do I maintain the change? 
  • How can I get trained to better use the solution?
  • When will I need to purchase again?

Returning to our cheeseburger example, the post-purchase stage is where we contemplate our meal. Did it satisfy our hunger? Did it taste good? Do we recommend our friends eat there? Will we buy from there again? 

How to Use Buyery’s Journey

Step-by-step, the buyer’s journey provides a path that our customers navigate as they move through their purchase. By understanding these steps, we can better strategize our sales and marketing activities.

Here are a few steps to get started with using the Buyer’s Journey in your business:

  1. Map Out The Buyer’s Journey – Using the framework of stages above, or modifying as appropriate, map out the buyer’s journey for your business. 
  2. Review Existing Deals – Get your marketing and sales teams together and review recent deals in the context of your journey framework. How did that example customer move the framework? What questions did they ask at each stage? What caused them to convert to the next stage? 
  3. Plan Your Strategy – Now consider how you can further strengthen your buyer’s journey. What marketing content can you create at each stage to help sales? Use a tool like a content matrix to plan your strategy. 

I’ve found that the Buyer’s Journey is a great tool for aligning sales and marketing teams around a common process. Together, these teams can focus their efforts on effectively moving customers throughout the entire funnel, leading to happier customers and increased revenue.