When it comes to inbound marketing, you will almost always hear about the “buyer’s journey” when referencing personas and when to reach out to your prospects. But when you scratch beneath the surface of that phrase, you may find that it’s not always easy to figure out where people are in that journey.

Why does that matter?

Well, remember when I talked about marketing and sales alignment? Having a comprehensive understanding of the buyer’s journey (and knowing where the buyer is in their journey) is key to determining that oh so critical marketing and sales relationship.

Determining the Buyer’s Stage

When you talk about inbound marketing, every action a lead takes on your website is a signal of some sort. For example, how many (and which) pages they visit, as well as what content they access, is a great way to determine which stage of the buyer’s journey they fall under.

Most of us may have some basic knowledge on the three different stages of the buyer’s journey and the type of thought process the buyer has within each one. Knowing this information helps marketers understand what their buyers are doing and how they can help them move from one stage of the sales cycle to the next. Let’s take a look at each stage and how it varies with the different types of website visits.


During the awareness stage, sales will want to reach out and connect with their prospect. Most website visitors are in the awareness stage because those visiting your blog, interacting on social media (comments, shares, etc.) or doing a simple Google phrase search, are almost always still in the research phase. These visitors are looking for answers, subject matter expert (SME) opinions and any way to educate themselves.


Now that your prospects are past the stage of simply researching, they are more likely to be visiting specific website pages, such as your product pages, features pages and “About Our Company” section on your website. This is called the consideration stage, when your website visitors can vary from leads to customers to unknown strangers, some of whom are engaged and qualified, while others may be engaged but not at all suited to your business.

Going hand in hand with the buyer’s stages, is a buying trigger.

A buying trigger is an event that causes a buyer to have a definitive need. Perhaps you are sick and go online to research your symptoms and select a way to treat yourself. It’s helpful to set some qualifying guidelines for your company on what would trigger a personalized response. For instance, if someone visits a product (or equally important) page or has, let’s say, at least three interactions, this could qualify as a trigger.

Understanding buying triggers is equally important as working with triggers to improve marketing. You can do so by:

  • Identifying the personas that buy and their specific triggers;
  • Creating trigger-specific content; and
  • Creating the trigger itself and/or helping a buyer with a trigger that has happened


Enter pricing guides, direct demos, bottom of the funnel offers and “Contact Us” pages. Buyers in the decision stage have narrowed down what they are looking for and are now visiting your website with the thought process of what it takes to become a customer.

As the most attainable opportunity for sales, a member from your sales team should be reaching out immediately to the prospects in the decision stage.


By segmenting and analyzing your website traffic based on actions, you can ultimately determine what stage of the buyer’s journey a prospect is in. Once you discover where your top-of-funnel website visitors and leads are in their buying cycle based on their online interactions, be sure you have appropriate paths for them to follow that answer their questions and move them forward through to the next stage.

By creating educational and relevant content, capturing their information as soon as possible and understanding what triggers them to close as a customer, you will find the most valuable information for marketing and sales to work together. Don’t forget to build your credibility by tailoring your outreach from the initial email and targeting the buyers furthest down the funnel.

Do you use specific metrics to determine what stage of the buyer’s journey your prospects are in? In turn, how do your sales and marketing teams use this knowledge to help them in their alignment?