Sales Decision Journey: a framework to track progress before sales impact

Examining your sales force through the lens of the Sales Decision Journey revolves around the professionalization of your sales operations

For any commercial operation, spanning across any industry, achieving success hinges on understanding the positioning of your customers and potential customers along a continuum between two opposing extremes: (i) those who lack awareness about your product and (ii) those who engage in consistent and substantial purchases, entailing deep business integration and strategic alignment.

The Customer Decision Journey framework serves as a valuable tool for precisely locating each lead or customer within this sales spectrum. Depending on your customer’s progress along the decision journey towards purchasing the products and services necessary for their success from your organization, you can align and determine which of sales activities, investments and attention may be most appropriate.

It is evident that customers who are completely unaware of you and your product require different attention and actions than those who are on the verge of making significant purchase decisions. Therefore, examining your salesforce through the lens of the Sales Decision Journey framework fundamentally revolves around the professionalization of your sales operations and the enhancement of your commercial strength by aligning your processes and actions with the customer/ target specific needs.

It’s worth noting that this knowledge may already exist within your organization. Often, outstanding salespeople possess a deep understanding of their customer’s positions and continuously ponder ways to ensure the success of their leads. However, this knowledge is typically not institutionalized to the extent that organizations have established shared processes for salespeople to fully leverage it or for leadership to have full transparency. Thus, the objective is to professionalize your organization, implement best practices across teams, and create an environment in which the entire sales force can thrive.

 At Eendigo, we have recently created a six-step Sales Decision Journey 

Depending on the nature of your product, industry, and customers, the number of sales stages along this journey may vary. At Eendigo, we have recently devised a six-step Sales Decision Journey for one of our Clients, designed to monitor sales progression, pinpoint obstacles to success, and instigate actions and decisions from leadership. Each stage is meticulously defined and begins with potential customers who possess little to no knowledge about our client and its products. It culminates with those who have become steadfastly loyal, exhibiting a high level of independence while also nurturing a co-dependent relationship.

Unawareness Stage

The initial stage, which we refer to as the “Unawareness Stage,” encompasses potential customers who exist our client’s hunting lists. While public information, high-level intelligence, and buyer contacts may be available, our Client possesses limited knowledge about the needs and strategies of these potential customers, and there is no indication that these potential customers are aware of our Client.

When a majority of your targets within the Sales Decision Journey find themselves in this stage, it could indicate a green field market where the organization has minimal or no presence. Alternatively, it may signify markets that have been overlooked or deprioritized.

This scenario necessitates specific activities: your organization may need to dedicate time to create target lists and hunting lists. You’ll want to conduct thorough research to assess the addressable market in a particular geographical area and identify all potential customers who might express an interest in your products and services.

At this stage, there is no tangible exchange of products or services between the organization and potential clients. No test products, trials, or samples are involved in the process.

Awareness Stage

The subsequent stage in this particular customer journey is known as the “Awareness Stage.” In this phase, the identified targets have been profiled, and the organization’s sales force embarks on making initial sales contacts in the market. Sales representatives may introduce the company, its brand, and its products, often within a broader context such as at a trade show. The primary objective of these touchpoints is to elucidate the organization’s values, offer a general overview of the industry it operates in, and highlight the key stakeholders it engages with.

During this stage, there may be instances where the organization and potential customers exchange some marketing samples.


The catalysts for progressing to the next stage are substantive technical and in-depth sales engagements. These interactions serve a dual purpose: on one side, they enable the client to gain a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s product range and capabilities, and on the other, they allow the organization to delve deeply into the needs of the potential customer.

What truly sets this stage apart is the potential customer’s profound grasp of your products and services, particularly within the context of their specific requirements. They identify potential gaps, recognize barriers to purchase, such as certification or technical standards, and may also consider service aspects like delivery times.

During this stage, potential customers may receive product samples or place test orders. In cases where products are highly customizable or technically intricate, this phase may initiate collaborative development efforts aimed at addressing these identified gaps.


Subsequently, the organization endeavors to collaboratively guide the customer to a point where a purchase becomes a distinct possibility.

At this juncture, the product stands in its entirety—fully developed and rigorously tested—assuring alignment with the customer’s needs. Nevertheless, lingering uncertainties may revolve around aspects such as pricing, risk management, or the intricacies of the supply chain. Nonetheless, the customer has progressed to a stage where serious deliberations are underway regarding the feasibility of making a purchase.

During this stage, the initiation of pilot orders or trial shipments is conceivable, but the product flow is not yet marked by consistency or significant volume.

Purchasing Stage

We have now reached a juncture where substantial investments have been channeled into addressing any potential gaps. The organization has successfully developed a viable product tailored specifically for that particular customer. Strong and enduring sales relationships have been established, and at this juncture, in the purchasing phase, it is imperative that a significant transaction takes place.

The organization upholds stringent standards in the classification of customers as purchasers. This approach is maintained because the framework we employ at Eendigo is geared towards managing sales teams, motivating them, and driving them towards peak performance. Within this framework, we utilize the term “significant purchases,” signifying transactions of considerable size that align with the typical purchasing cycles observed among distributors or manufacturers.

During the purchasing phase, these customers acquire products or services from the organization, albeit not always in a strictly predictable manner, and not necessarily in strict adherence to budget constraints, but their buying decisions are motivated by the need to fulfill their specific requirements through the utilization of our products or services.

Loyalty Stage

Depending on various factors, organizations and customers can develop sales relationships that transcend the standard stages. In scenarios characterized by a high level of value chain integration, where the organization serves as the primary supplier and a state of co-dependency arises, the customer may be classified as “loyal.” It is important to note that this stage is relatively uncommon and should not be used indiscriminately.

In this loyal stage, comprehension and fulfillment of needs go beyond the norm; strategies are deeply intertwined and co-created. Both parties exhibit a steadfast commitment that is not only expressed but also continuously renewed—it can be likened to a “marriage phase” of the relationship.

Indicators of this stage may encompass a predominant share of the customer’s wallet, consistent alignment with budgetary and aspirational targets, predictability in sales cycles, or the establishment of total or partial exclusivity in the relationship.

Backward transitions in sales can occur, where customers regress along the journey

Indeed, it is crucial to recognize that potential customers and existing customers can move both downstream towards loyalty and, in some cases, be compelled to move upstream in the decision journey. 

These situations may arise when the organization introduces a product to the market, particularly one developed specifically for an industrial customer. However, several months down the line, issues may emerge. The product might exhibit signs of technical failure or inadequacy in some aspect, or perhaps the price undergoes significant changes, leading to intense competitive pressures that diminish the organization’s standing in the eyes of the customer. In such instances, customers may retreat to an earlier stage in the decision journey.

Organizations can gain insights into the impact of their sales team’s actions well in advance of tangible sales outcomes

Implementing such a framework within a professional sales organization extends far beyond a theoretical exercise. It carries several significant implications, including:

  1. Sales Effectiveness: Each stage within the framework demands distinct actions from your sales team because different barriers may need to be addressed, and various forms of attention may be necessary. Different facets of best practices must be established and shared across the team to navigate each stage effectively.
  2. Resourcing Decisions: For instance, when the organization needs to create hunting lists involving hundreds or even thousands of potential targets, choices must be made. It becomes challenging to address all leads simultaneously, necessitating careful allocation of resources to determine which targets should be prioritized to advance them to the next stage.
  3. Tracking and Monitoring: Often, long before the organization witnesses bottom-line success, substantial effort from the sales team is required to move customers to a point where purchases become viable. This framework serves as a valuable leading indicator of that effort. By employing this tool, the organization can gain insights into the impact of their sales team’s actions well in advance of tangible sales outcomes, allowing for proactive adjustments and informed decision-making.

Takeaways for business leaders:

Achieving success in your sales organization hinges on a fundamental understanding of your customers, and one indispensable tool for achieving this understanding is effectively managing and mapping the Customer Decision Journey. If your organization does not yet have such a framework in place, it’s imperative to create one tailored to your unique circumstances. Off-the-shelf solutions often fall short in capturing the intricacies of your business and customers.

Implement this framework within your system if possible, but don’t let technological constraints hold you back. The critical factor is to invest in this process to build a performance-driven culture within your sales organization. Incorporate relevant metrics from the Customer Decision Journey into your sales dashboard, allowing you to continually monitor and optimize your sales efforts. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of customer relationships and drive commercial success.

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Author: Martino Bissoli