Hot Takes

Your Buyer Journey is More Important Than Your Roadmap with Sebastien van Heyningen

Revenue Sales

It’s a crowded, crowded world out here in SaaS. Every new product or service enters an already oversaturated market, filled to the brim with worthy and similar competitors.

“Standing out” is harder than ever. So how do we do it?

  • New bells and whistles on your solution? NO
  • Hire a new VP Sales? NOPE
  • Product-Led Growth? CLOSE, BUT NO

The big winners are standing out by providing a smooth and valuable Buyer Journey. They’ve anticipated the twists and turns that come before making a purchase. They are meeting their Buyers where they’re at.

In this Hot Takes Live session with Sebastien van Heyningen, President of Central Metric, we discussed why your buyer journey is more important than your roadmap.

[Transcript] Your Buyer Journey is More Important Than Your Roadmap

Although transcriptions are generally very accurate, just a friendly reminder that they could sometimes be incomplete or contain errors due to unclear audio or transcription inaccuracies.

Joe Aicher

Excited to bring on our next presenter; let’s bring up Sebastian. Hey, how are you doing? 

Sebastian van Heyningen

I’m good, Joe, how are you?

Joe Aicher

Good, good. We are just moving along, so I’m excited to hear what you’ve got to talk about. I’ll step out and join back up with you here shortly.

Sebastian van Heyningen

Yeah, all right, let’s do it. Thanks for coming, everyone, and I’m excited to kind of spit my hot takes at you. The title speaks for itself; your buyer journey matters more than your offering. So whatever it is you’re selling, as cool as that is, as important as the problems that you solve are, what’s more important is the road that your buyers take to engaging with you. 

So, intro on me. I’m a President of Central Metric and a RevOps consultant. Central Metric is a RevOps consulting agency. Fun fact: I am a working DJ. I host events in New York in Austin–let me know if you want to come to one of my parties. Anyway, back to back to business.

So, the origin of this kind of thought process of mine is I’ve been lucky enough and blessed and privileged enough to be a B2B revenue consultant for the last five or six years. 

Your Buyer Journey Is More Important Than Your Roadmap With Sebastien Van Heyningen

Over that time, on a weekly basis, because in all of my roles, I am revenue producing, I am speaking to dozens, sometimes hundreds, depending on how much time you want to stretch the range out for, of software founders, executives, and revenue leaders. You know, people that are trying to sell, create demand, generate demand. For the last five or six years, I’ve been consulting them, and things that I’ve seen over and over and over again are very complicated and fragmented sales processes.

These are the folks that have 20 deal stages and 35 lead statuses, and they don’t know how to report on any of it. 

Second, is almost no focus on delivering value beyond your solution so we got a lot of SDRs out there saying, “Meet with me. I could tell you about what we offer,” but it’s not focusing on enriching the experience of the buyer at every stage of their purchase. Not just the last one.

The third is what I call this founder arrogance. I think when you have this kind of ideal of solving a problem and creating a business that will help people, you kind of bake in a little bit of arrogance and an assumption that people will use it if you just put it in front of them.

I can not tell you how many founders I’ve met with that told me, in some version of words, ‘“Oh, I’ll just put out the product; I’ll put out the service, and people will show up. If you build it, they will come.” 

Newsflash: they will not. 

Then the fourth is adding software to fix these problems. Oh, we’ve got too many lead statuses; we’ll just throw them all into HubSpot. The leads aren’t engaged; we’ll invest in a new CMS.  Kind of adding software before you discover what the actual problem is and how to fix it.  

In short: what I want to communicate to you today and what I think everyone should take home with them is first–If we do not meet our buyers where they’re at and deliver value beyond our solution, then we are essentially allowing our competitors to win.

Your Buyer Journey Is More Important Than Your Roadmap With Sebastien Van Heyningen

I’m going to borrow something that I learned from a much larger agency some of you may be familiar with; Winning by Design. 

We were kind of chatting with them on and off a while back. I asked Dominique about their founding story, and one of the things that she expressed to me was that she had an exit at a company that was very similar to another company that did the same product in the same industry at the same price point, but the valuations were completely different. 

So she was curious about how they won, how did they win? They won by design. The design of their buyer journey, the way that they engage with their buyers, was too superior to their competitors–so they won.

Moving on, the second thing that I need everyone here to think about or learn, if it’s new to you, is that the buyer’s journey is non-linear. I can’t remember the, I can’t even, I don’t know the last time you solved the problem, but I would bet that you didn’t go from problem–researching solutions–solved immediately.

You came in and out of that problem as other priorities came up, as other things took up your time, as the importance of this problem raised or lowered throughout time. So you came in and out of the buyer journey; it was not a straight easy amazing line.

Then third. Until you have mapped out your ideal buyer journey, it is almost completely pointless to talk to CRM and sales engagement and marketing automation vendors because they will sell you into a gigantic frankenstack that does not engage your buyer, does not provide value, and leads to a very fragmented buyer journey. So get those requirements first before you jump into things. 

In practice, this is probably something I should have deleted from the template; but essentially, what I’m doing here is discussing my hot take and how it influences how we work at Central Metric. 

Your Buyer Journey Is More Important Than Your Roadmap With Sebastien Van Heyningen

So first off, we start almost every client engagement with an audit of the buyer journey–from the perspective of the buyer but considering the seller. So as the buyer, when I go to the website and put my information in, how fast does the email come? When do I hear from sales? And when I do hear from sales, are they selling, or are they giving me solutions? Are they giving me helpful information? 

If I get an email that’s an invite to a meeting, why would I ever take this meeting? Is there any value beyond it? We want to, and we use a semi-proprietary way of doing this; essentially, we just put it in Excel, as everyone else does, but we help our clients map that out stage-by-stage, status-by-status, row-by-row–so that you are aligning your journey to your buyer and not the other way around.

Second, we add value by improving the buyer journey through process automation and optimization, so once you know, at least have a good estimation of what those steps will be from a given buyer, you can start to raise your technology and process and people to meet them there. Give them the information they need and help them move along that journey.

Then thirdly, as a policy across the board–we do not make tech recommendations unless the process for that technology has been mapped out in advance. I’m pretty sure that point sounds like a broken record by now.

So the key takeaway that I think everyone should go home with from this little presentation is that if you don’t pave the road that your buyers take to your solution, they will take another road.

That doesn’t even necessarily mean that they’ll go with the competitor; they might solve the problem themselves; if you’re a service provider, they might hire someone full-time to do it, but they will not understand the value of your solution until you show them value, repeatedly over time and help shepherd them towards a decision. 

So how can you use this information? This is all cool; you want to make your buyer journey more applicable to the buyer, and you want to meet them where they’re at. So, I think the first thing you can do, if you want to do this yourself, is I have put together a free “Buyer Journey Blueprint Workshop.”

Joe just put the link to the page; it is not a scheduled event; it is a Workshop that you can take at your own pace. It’s essentially a video and three to four templates that you can use right away. So feel free to take and use those–compare them to ones you’ve done in the past. Let me know what comes out.

Secondly, you can schedule some time with me. I literally could talk about this stuff all day, so feel free to hit me up either in the comments here or on LinkedIn. I’m the only person with my name on LinkedIn, and we can set some time so that we can review your buyer journey and make sure that it is doing all these things, and that is the end of my little presentation here.

So, Joe, welcome back.

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Hot Takes Live


Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.

These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).

Joe Aicher

Yeah, thanks. Awesome job. Look, this is so applicable to so many businesses because even in my own situation, you get so drowned in trying to automate things and move things from one stage to another or thinking about all the little operational stuff that you’re not really paying attention to what the customer is actually getting as the output of all that. 

So what are some ways that you are kind of helping influence these businesses to break from some of those old habits?

Whether it’s the operational user, the person that’s in the systems, or it’s even some of the executives that you’re talking to that are looking at these as a bigger problem and not maybe even realizing it’s because HubSpot’s not setting a trigger at the right time; how are you influencing these conversations with businesses?

Sebastian van Heyningen

I think one of my favorite tactics in this argument is–show it to me. 

You know, like literally, I have brought up on a founder call, “Okay, hey. I’m a prospect. I just put my name on your site. There’s no email in my inbox; I haven’t heard from sales, there’s no chatbot, and so you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna go google this problem and find a solution on my own.”

Just to share a simple example. And so I find that sometimes the best way to convince somebody that they’re wrong is to follow their logic to its conclusion. In most cases, with the kind of stacks and the processes that we’re looking at, that end result, that conclusion is not sales or and not sales development.

Joe Aicher

Yeah definitely. Yeah, it’s amazing how many times, even from our own business, with Breadcrumbs, we go through, and we talk to prospects, and we’ll try the same thing. Go click on a form, go put your email in, and crickets. It’s not because they’re not trying to disengage with you; they just don’t know that there are these gaps.

How often, or how long does it typically take for you guys to go and take a look at a business and say like, “Hey, here are some really actionable things that you guys can do within the first maybe a couple of days or first couple of weeks.” 

Are there small steps that you can take or we can take back to our own teams right now and just say, “Hey, maybe a quick little audit of just this form would be helpful,” like what are some things that might be good tips in the short term for businesses?

Sebastian van Heyningen

Yeah, I think a short-term one is you take all your statuses, take all your stages, and lay them out in a row. Put a row above them, and then that row should represent the buyers’ goals at those stages. 

So, everybody has some ‘attempting to contact status,’ we’re trying to reach them. So when I’m trying to reach this prospect, what are they trying to do? What do they want? What content do they want to see? What problem are they focused on? 

You could do this per persona because our solutions touch different segments, and we can kind of break it up. But literally, saying if a lead exists in this status, what are they most likely trying to get done right now?

Joe Aicher

Yeah, and I think that’s powerful. Not even just for the executives but even for a rep on the individual contributor level to know, “Hey, they’re probably not ready for that meeting quite yet.” 

Maybe put them in their place a little bit and be a little bit more long-term thinking than short-term deal focused.

Sebastian van Heyningen

Yeah, but that comes with the pressure, right? You can’t knock the salespeople and the founders too much because we all have these goals and these growth initiatives. We’re trying to get there, and I think this is just a kind of a situation where the pressure gets too much, and you start to lose that empathy because you’re just trying to chase your number so much. 

Joe Aicher

Definitely, well, Sebastian, I think we’re close to time here. So thanks so much for joining us–this is an awesome presentation. I did post the offer in the chat, so for folks that want to take a look at that, copy that link over. Appreciate you joining us; best of luck for the rest of the summer, and we’ll hopefully chat soon.

Sebastian van Heyningen

Same here–I’m looking forward to the other hot take sessions today, too.

Joe Aicher

Thanks, Sebastian.