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How to Determine Where Your Leads are in the Buyer's Journey

Posted by Casey Lewis on Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales Process

buyers-journeySales and inbound marketing are all about leads. Sometimes, you get lucky and a consumer comes right to your business and tells you exactly what they want, without any effort on your part. But that’s not really sales, is it? That’s more like just purchasing. If you needed toilet paper and went to the store to buy it, you weren’t a lead; you were just a consumer.

Leads, on the other hand, likely have a need for your product/service, but they’re unsure about something. Sometimes they’re unsure if they need to make the purchase (do I really need to buy a brand new computer when I just bought one last year?); other times, they’re unsure of the company they should do business with – perhaps they like a business but aren’t convinced they deserve their money; or they’re deciding between two or more businesses that offer the same product/service. 

Regardless of what they’re trying to decide, leads virtually all follow what’s called a “buyer’s journey.” (Inbound marketing giant Hubspot has provided a great breakdown of the buyer’s journey, which you can find here) The buyer’s journey operates under the central concept that all leads have a problem – a problem that can be solved by your product/service. The buyer’s journey describes how your lead deals with the problem in three steps. Determining which step your lead is on can help you decide how best to engage them and what kind of content offers your should provide them with.

Let’s break down each section of this three-part journey:


The lead is aware that they have a problem, but they’re not precisely sure what the problem is or what is causing it; they only know the “symptoms” they’re experiencing. During this stage, the lead is focused on identifying their problem. Therefore, all their research is purely educational at this point – they want answers.

As an example, let’s say your business has zero social media presence (I hope that’s not true, otherwise you need to take care of that right away). You know this is a problem, but you don’t know what to do about it. So you start Googling information about how to start social media pages, how to handle social media engagement, etc.

At this point, the best way to engage with you is through editorial content. Things like eBooks, with titles like “Social Media for Business 101.”


At this stage, the lead is fully aware of what their problem is. Now, they’re concerned with finding a solution. They will research available solutions and consider which one might be best for them. The lead wants to know about every recourse they have available.

Going back to our example of the business with no social media presence, you determine that your problem is you have no social media strategy – how can you get social media off the ground if you have no method for doing it? Now you need to examine how you can deal with this issue. Should you hire a firm to craft your strategy? Should you research and create one on your own? Do you need a social media manager?

The best way to reach you at this stage is through the use of in-house videos or comparative white papers that show you why our service is the best solution. In our case, it might be a video entitled: “How a marketing agency can revolutionize your social media efforts.”


The lead has decided how they want to handle the problem – they just want to be sure they choose the right company or service provider.

Using the social media example, your business has decided it definitely wants to use a marketing agency to handle their social media. Now, you’re just shopping around to see what each agency offers, what kind of pricing you can expect, etc. You know this is what you want to do, but you want to make sure you make the right decision on a vendor. 

To get through to you at this stage, we would be very hands-on. Perhaps show you how we’ve handled social media campaigns for another client, or explain how our social media management compares with our competitors.

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