Customer Journey Mapping: A Proven Guide

Blog post header: This is your guide to ensuring cross-functional team alignment to the Customer's Journey. It contains directives for conducting each meeting and next steps.

I swear I hear groans when I mention Customer Journey Mapping. And I get it. It can be a tedious process, but a good one nonetheless. This article will outline a meeting cadence with topics of coverage and guidance for conducting this work.

Pro Tip: Identify your ideal client profile and buyer personas before getting started.


First of all, it helps align internally with where our customers are coming from and how they go through the different stages. Then where and when we consider one a Lead vs. a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs. a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), and finally, when and how we pass them to Onboarding, Success, and Services.

Building your customer journey map doesn't have to cause you to groan in pain — it's genuinely helping us be customer-centric in our approach as we see the buying journey from the customer's lens. While we work to evaluate each stage, and the processes, we will:

  • Identify gaps
  • Align on how to handoff cross-functionally
  • Identify nurture opportunities at each stage of the buyer's journey
  • Identify what can and should be automated

Are you ready to get started?

Get your team together. You'll want to invite leadership members from each pillar involved with the customer to be in the room (or on zoom).

Explain the purpose of the customer journey mapping session(s) — you may need one or more of these meetings to align across business segments, but try to cap it at three meetings to avoid analysis paralysis. Remember, if it's not perfect, that is perfectly okay because this is meant to be a starting point and a place to document your structure; you'll iterate on what you learn over time.

Set aside 90 minutes to 2 hours for this first call and use the following to keep the conversation on track.

Round 1: Customer Journey Mapping Brainstorm

Your marketing team is usually responsible for housing and leading the charge on updating your Buyer Personas and Ideal Client Profiles, but they are not responsible for this on their own. This truly should be a cross-functional and collaborative process.

  1. Align on your ICP and Buyer Personas
  2. Identify all of the places a customer could enter as a lead
  3. Identify the Pain Points for each stage of the buyer's journey:
    • Awareness
    • Consideration
    • Decision
  4. What qualifies your leads at each lifecycle stage? You can start with a high-level overview because, in your second meeting, I'll ask you to dig deeper into each stage.
    • Lead
    • MQL
    • SQL
    • Opportunity
    • Customer
    • Evangelist
    • Other
  5. What will be the Lead Statuses (these are different from lifecycle stages and are sub-statuses of the SQL lifecycle stage) you'll use to identify the various stages within the SQL:
    • New
    • Open
    • Unqualified
    • Etc.
  6. What happens when an Opportunity is Closed Won or Closed Lost?
  7. What happens once a Customer is signed on? Do they go to Onboarding, Success or Services? And what does that handoff look like?

Now, that's a lot to cover in the first meeting, but if you can all agree on those primary steps, you're off to a bangin' start! 

Before the second meeting, please organize your information into a diagram that maps the customer journey with the details you have now. 

Pro Tip: You'll want to run some reports or pull your data ahead of this second meeting. You'll be looking for your data to support your assumptions about your customers journey.

Round 1 will help your marketing team enable your sales team when it comes time to create branded materials that support their efforts. There will likely be less pushback on content and timing recommendations because the process was defined as a group. 

Round 2: The Deep Dive into the Customer Journey

This is where you're going to dig deep and ask yourselves a lot of questions. Since this is the start of the customer journey, you MOST definitely want sales and marketing in the room.

I recommend inviting the other leaders as well, only because: 

  1. You'll share the customer journey map you've compiled since the last call.
  2. The leaders of the other pillars need to understand the customer's journey fully.

With the map confirmed and any minor adjustments made to the high-level overview, it's time to dig in.

Marketing is responsible for attracting leads and nurturing them to the SQL stage. Sales are responsible for taking them from SQL to Customer.

Identifying Unqualified Contacts

We'll assume that marketing is pulling in mostly good leads, but we should identify what is NOT a good lead before we dig into that.

Often my customers will include Unqualified leads as:

  • Students/Interns
  • Job Candidates
  • Vendors/Partners

Are there other types of contacts whom you would consider automatically unqualified? Could you add them to the list? We'll mark these contacts as "Other" lifecycle stage and non-marketing contacts. While it's marketing's responsibility to ensure these leads aren't marketed to or moved to an SQL stage, Sales should provide significant input here on what doesn't qualify a lead.

Lead Qualification

Now it's time to talk about Leads and what qualifies them as an MQL and then an SQL.

Ask yourselves questions like:

  1. Which properties are important to us in Marketing, Sales, and Service?
    1. Job Title or Function
    2. Company Size (Number of Employees)
    3. Revenue
  2. How and where was this Lead acquired?
  3. On average, how many pages does a lead visit before filling out a form?
  4. On average, how many pages does an MQL, SQL, and customer visit before each stage?
  5. What do salespeople ask when vetting a good lead?
  6. How many touchpoints does a salesperson have before an opportunity is opened (Deal is created), and the same for Closed Won (Customer)?

When you can clarify this information, you'll see from your customer journey map the steps you'll need to take to automate your work.

  • Email Nurtures for MQLs
  • Email Nurtures for some Unqualified SQLs
  • Sequences for SQLs we're working
  • Nudges for outstanding Quotes

Again this session should dig into the steps and processes that marketing and sales are taking to progress a customer through the buyer's journey.

Round 3: Customer Journey Mapping the Sales Handoff to Services

Winner! Your sales team has closed and won a deal!

If you do, you have a process for passing your customer over to their next point of contact at your company, but you really should. Your customers keep you in business, so don't just set it and forget it. Could you give them a seamless transition to the next team?

They will want to know what to expect once a signed customer. And on top of that, your team should know what steps they need to take next. This final meeting will help to work that out.

With your different teams, you'll define your internal Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and document the experience from the customer's perspective, covering things like:

  • How quickly will Success reach out after a deal is signed?
  • How will the customer know what the next steps are?
  • What do they need to prepare?
  • Will there be a Kickoff call?
  • Who is their primary POC at your company now?

Please put yourself in your customer's shoes and talk with your teams about what needs from the customer.

  • What is required for successful onboarding?
  • Anticipate the questions a customer might ask.

Pro tip: Invite your folks responsible for this to the call. They'll have the insider information on what works and what doesn't work.


In between meetings, flesh out the details, finalize the SOP and identify what can and should be automated, tasks, templates, and snippets to be created.

Round 4: Services and the Customer Journey

The final meeting. This is very important. I'd like to point out that staying in touch with your new customers and ensuring they use your tools, services, or products will help keep a pulse on renewal, upsell, and cross-sell opportunities. You'll more easily be able to identify who is at risk for churn and more. 

BUT, this is where you can map out when to reach out to your customers, conduct customer marketing, issue surveys, and request feedback. 

In this meeting, you'll want to discuss the following:

  • Frequency of contact with the customer
  • What steps should a customer go through in year one
  • When you'll reach out for feedback, CSAT, NPS surveys
  • When you discuss renewals, cross-sells, and upsells
  • When you'll conduct customer marketing

This information will give you the details you need to maintain your customer base, identify your best customers and see where you might have evangelists.

Evangelists will help you grow your customer base by referring new customers to you and providing testimonials and case studies to demonstrate your value to new customers.

The Map and the Strategy

Now that you know all this information and teams are aligned, you'll have a clear picture of all the touchpoints and interactions you'll have with a customer. You can use this information to develop your strategy and tactics, create your lead scoring metrics, and set up your automation across teams.

Tell us how this worked for you. Feel free to let us know if you have questions or comments below.

It should also be made known that this customer journey mapping and language used is in direct correlation with the HubSpot Inbound Methodology and tools.

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