Thanks to my high school literature teacher, Richard Anthony, I was made aware of Joseph Campbell’s work, the Hero with a Thousand Faces. In it, Campbell analyzes a wide range of hero stories from ancient myths to modern religions to distill them into the archetypical hero quest. He then uses this to analyze the human condition. If you haven’t read this book, it’s heavy stuff and a fascinating read.
The Buyer’s Journey
In sales and marketing, we are essentially mirroring Campbell’s abstract thought work for the human state of being and applying it to the buyer’s journey. Whereas an epic hero’s quest starts with an invitation to a region of “supernatural wonder”, our buyer’s journey usually begins with the realization of a want or need. The buyer will then move through the next 3 phases of the buyer’s journey: the consideration phase, the decision phase, and then the buying phase.
“Do I really want to address this issue?”
“How will I address this issue?”
“Who/What will I use to address the issue?”
However, it is a common mistake to think that that this marks the end of the buyer’s journey. To the contrary, it marks the beginning. Our sale will not be considered a success until our hero is able to solve the problem or opportunity that lies in front of her. The buyer’s organization also has to realize the benefits of the effort before the sale is considered a success.
The Buyer’s Journey and Your Demo
A well-placed demo during the buyer’s journey can help your buyer visualize the outcome of their quest. Your demo should show specific approaches and techniques to overcome the buyer’s unique needs. This requires more than just a feature walk-through. Instead show an in-depth analysis of the challenges and pitfalls the buyer’s team will face while on the quest to address the problem or opportunity that lies in front of them.
Remember, your goal should not be to make the sale, but instead, to ensure that your customer is set for success in the epic adventure that lays ahead of them.
Fun fact: George Lucas is a huge fan and used Hero with a Thousand Faces to guide him when writing Star Wars!