Understanding your customer and where they are at in the customer buying journey allows you to make the best possible decisions on how to proceed with an opportunity or lead.  It also ensures that your marketing strategy addresses each stage which in turn leads to a higher conversion rate and long-term customer loyalty. Many sales deals fail to close because the salesperson is so focused on the aspect of closing a deal that they fail to appropriately diagnose where their clients are at in the buying journey. Since buying decisions are emotional, not rational, it is important to be cognizant about building relationships throughout the entire customer journey.

6 Stages of the Customer Buying Journey

There have been many articles written and much research done regarding the stages of the customer buying process. No matter what the stages are called, they all represent similar ideas.  For the sake of this article, we will be referring to Microsoft terminology and how Microsoft defines the Customer Buying Journey.Here are the six stages of the customer buying process, along with some specific ways that Dynamics 365 helps at each stage:

1. Explore

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The Explore stage is the first step of the customer buying process. In this step, the prospect realizes they have a problem that they need to solve. This is often thought of as the most important step – realizing they have a problem. The customer is looking for the best solution to their problem. It might be that they’ve seen an ad that has sparked their interest. Maybe they have talked to someone who has recommended you or they know of someone who has had a similar problem in the past. Any customer that contacts you should be nurtured and treated as a prospect. Since todays customers are researching you before they even contact you, it is vital to constantly update and improve your website. Make sure that your website reflects your expertise.

How Dynamics 365 Helps During the Exploration Stage

  • Use Marketing Automation tools like ClickDimensions to manage social media posting, review page clicks, and evaluate engagement on your website.
  • Link webforms to Dynamics 365 for automated lead creation.
  • Use ClickDimensions Campaign Automations to deliver unique branded content to explorers visiting your website.

2. Evaluate

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In this step, the customer is evaluating whether or not you are the one who can provide the best solution to their problem. They will likely research you a bit more than in the exploration stage. They will examine your website. They might read your blog entries or download a whitepaper. They might want to attend a webinar or set up an in person or on the phone meeting with you. They will likely read (and hopefully identify with) your testimonials. This is why it is so important to have a professional website that establishes you as an authority and an expert in your area. SEO is also extremely important at this stage. You must know what keywords they used to find you. You want to know what keywords triggered their search, as well as what brought them to you! About 3/4 of consumers have completed most of their research and have their buying decision made way before contacting sales.

How Dynamics 365 Helps During the Evaluation Stage

  • Contacts, leads, and opportunities can easily be tracked in Dynamics 365.
  • CRM workflows can automatically schedule ‘next actions.’
  • Phone calls, emails, communications can be documented in Dynamics 365. This gives your clients a personalized experience. You always know where you left off with a certain client, what was discussed, and recommended.
  • Never miss following up with a prospect or client! Follow up reminders can be set up in Dynamics 365.


3. Purchase

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At the Purchase stage, the focus is on price and ROI. The customer will more than likely want a face to face at this stage.  Prospects in this stage are likely concerned with value proposition and how you will support them. Make sure you are not only able to answer these questions verbally, but the answers to these questions are on your website as well. They are making a purchase, but they want to be assured they have made the best decision possible.

How Dynamics 365 Helps During the Purchase Stage

  • Opportunities track the most important information about the sales process while business process flows ensure that your proven sales process is followed.
  • Notes can be used to store important documents – signed agreements, invoices etc. regarding a client’s purchase

Stages 4 & 5. Expand and Renew

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In the expand and renew stages, you might recommend certain add-ons that may work well with the solution they have chosen. You might also, decide on a stage 2 project or you might want to invite them to subscribe to your blog/newsletter. This would be a good time to inform clients of upcoming webinars or videos to watch.

How Dynamics 365 Helps During the Expand and Renew Stages

  • Dynamics 365 gives upsell/add-on suggestions.
  • Through Dynamics 365 and ClickDimensions, you can manage regular contact with clients.


6. Advocacy

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Stage 6 is the Advocacy stage. Advocacy is probably the most forgotten stage, yet it is important as any.  Advocacy is where you get your current customers to sell for you!  Whether it is a reward for a referral or creation of a case study that you place on your website, getting your customers to advocate for you is the best marketing you can do. So, if you have done a good job of stages 1-5, you won’t have any issues turning your customers into advocates. Unfortunately, many companies skip this step or think of the buying process as over. Just because a purchase has been made, that doesn’t mean the process has ended. This stage is critical to retaining customers and acquiring new ones. It is crucial for companies to maintain positive post-purchase relations. Not only do you want your customer to go away happy with the solution they have chosen, but this will likely affect whether or not other prospects choose you in the future.  This is a great time to get referrals or testimonials which can not only be used on your website, but on a plethora of social media sites. enCloud9 has a number of referrals and testimonials that can be read here.  Over 70% of all people seek out advice and opinions on goods and services before purchasing, many of them use social networks.

How Dynamics 365 Helps During the Advocacy Stage

  • Tasks can be assigned to follow up with a client after a while to make sure everything is working to their satisfaction/ address any issues.
  • A case can be opened in Dynamics 365 to address any issues.
  • Surveys, either using Voice of the Customer or ClickDimensions, allow customer feedback to be gathered, analyzed, and acted upon.

The Customer Buying Journey Repeats

The Customer Buying journey is a never-ending process. As soon as one customer completes all 6 stages, there’s always a new customer starting the process. Each of the stages is equally important, but if you are doing a really good job in the advocacy stage, you will constantly have new prospects and clients to keep the process going.

Using Dynamics 365 to Visualize and Automate the Customer Buying Journey

Using Dynamics 365 to visualize and automate the journey that customers will take while interacting with your marketing initiatives on their way to making a purchase can be very beneficial. Check out this great article I found showing how to visualize and automate the customer journey with Dynamics 365. This article gives ideas for a simple customer journey (which might only include a short interaction and a single email campaign). It also gives ideas for a more complex journey (which might include the full process of the customer buying journey). Customer journeys can also generate, assign Dynamics 365 tasks, and trigger business workflows.

Do You Want Another Way to Enhance Your Customer’s Journey?

Are you looking for a simple easy way to capture data from your customers, partners or employees? If so, then you are going to love Microsoft Forms Pro, the newest member of Microsoft’s Power Platform.  Microsoft Forms Pro is a simple yet comprehensive survey solution that allows businesses to easily capture and analyze feedback to improve customer, employee, and product experiences. We have written a three-part series. Part one covered creating a surveyPart two covered creating a quizPart three covered sharing your survey or quiz and viewing as well as analyzing the data.

Download our FREE Guide to the Customer Journey!

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How Can We Help?

The importance of being observant of your customer’s disposition in the customer buying journey is evident. It could potentially cost you revenue. Don’t lose another sale because of misdiagnosing your prospects and customers. enCloud9 has many years of experience helping companies increase their sales using Dynamics 365. Contact us today and let us help you!