The SaaS Buyer Journey Timeline

Octiv and Forrester offer a real-life glimpse into how companies navigate the buyer's journey.

At 10,000 feet

The most successful companies know the B-to-B sales process has been completely transformed by buyers. Today's prospects rely on a wide range of sources to inform them throughout the buyer journey, seeking validation from reliable sources throughout the cycle and demanding vendors that are willing to partner with them from the early stages through post-sale.

Together with trusted technology and market research company Forrester, Octiv has mapped its own buyer journey and identified a host of data points that illustrate how SaaS companies like ours must attract, engage and maintain prospect interactions that lead to healthy, long-term customer partnerships. This offers a glimpse into our team's buying process, and serves as an example of how other SaaS companies can navigate the buyer journey successfully.


Early-stage (Discover/Evaluate)

  • Successful SaaS companies know the buyer journey begins well before prospects have a clear picture of the problems they need to solve. It often begins with a simple recognition of a problem in the sales process, and a resolution to solve it.
  • Whether the need for a solution involves filling gaps in a sales tech stack or replacing an ineffective solution, most buyers rely on two sources to influence their decisions early in the process.
  • Forrester research reveals that 23 percent of buyers look to analysts for direction on technology, and 21 percent rely on peers for recommendations.





  • Analyst information influences the early stages of the buyer's journey, giving buyers the ability to quickly narrow a range of choices. However, analyst classifications can miscategorize platforms, leading to prospects dismissing potentially effective solutions at a critical time.
  • Peers and networks can also eliminate potentially effective solutions, based on the role that peer plays (decision-maker, management/leadership). Brand awareness and product reputation are also important elements of product selection.
  • Forrester research reveals buyers rely most on performance specs (28%), tech trends (25%), and integration with other systems (24%) to guide decisions in the early stages.
  • This means buyers want to know a product's capabilities upfront before being led further into the buyer journey. Staying current with – or even ahead of – tech trends is also important, as is adding value to an existing sales stack with seamless integration.

It's common for relationships to influence the way buyers choose products to evaluate in the early stages of the journey. A recommendation from leadership or people who are in similar roles can tip the scales.
David Kerr, COO, Octiv

We started by identifying our needs: a solution that was very easy to use, with a mild learning curve. So, we looked at a variety of products, made comparisons and considered alternatives. Ultimately, our choice came down to simplicity.
Alex Firtl, Sales and Marketing Analyst, Octiv


Mid-Stage (Explore)

  • Once the need has been clearly articulated and a list of potential solutions has been identified, buyers begin to evaluate each solution on the list.
  • The evaluation phase can take a number of forms: from brand awareness and online research to face-to-face demos and onsite meetings.
  • Forrester research reveals a nearly equal buyer influence between peers, with tech analysts at 21% and tech information websites at 20%.







  • It's also at this stage where buyers consider what the future of a product could mean for their own company: is the company moving to the cloud? Does it replace several existing sales stack solutions? Does it lend itself easily to scale?
  • Forrester research shows another even split between content needs: technical comparisons with other products (21%), tech trends (21%) and information on pricing.
  • A focus on pricing is often a differentiator at this stage; if it's out of price range, a buyer may eliminate a choice from his list. Conversely, this offers vendors an opportunity to personalize pricing and packaging.

When buyers can find the right mix of influencers and information, they're more likely to buy. That's why sites like G2 Crowd are the ideal complement to analysts like Forrester: they offer B-to-B buyers reliable peer reviews from trusted sources.
Dustin Sapp, CEO, Octiv


Late-Stage (Buy)

  • While today's buyers pull a good portion of weight on their own with online searches and peer recommendations, the latest stages of the buying cycle are often personal and personalized.
  • Buyers want meaningful interaction with salespeople at this stage (29% face-to-face, 20% phone), while 18% still rely on peers to influence buying decisions.







  • Note that the one constant throughout the buyer journey is peer influence, which can take any number of forms. It's important for vendors to recognize the power of peers and craft content that speaks directly to them, as well as to decision-makers.

At this stage, speed matters. If we're choosing between two products, the response time and personal approach of a vendor can make the difference between moving to the final stage of the sales process and choosing someone else.
David Kerr, COO, Octiv


Post-Sale (Engage)

  • The buyer journey doesn't end once a final decision on a solution has been made; for companies serving customers, that journey is just beginning. This is when personalization, customer experience and commitment to education are most critical.
  • In-person sales interaction is most important at this stage (38%), with vendor websites a close second (32%).
  • It's up to the vendor to provide ways to educate their new customers on use, integration and adoption; but buyers themselves must also devote consistent resources to integration and adoption to ensure long-term success.
  • Vendors should work with the buyer to define all resources necessary for successful implementation and adoption. Both parties should be on the same page as to who will fill those roles and what will be expected of them. If necessary, vendors should provide documentation of this resource allocation, so they can hold buyers accountable.
  • To make that happen, buyers want information on integration with existing systems (26%) technical guides for deployment (25%), and customer support options (22%).

    Customer support


    Technical Guides




Vendors should work with the buyer to define all resources necessary for successful implementation and adoption. Both parties should be on the same page as to who will fill those roles and what will be expected of them. If necessary, vendors should provide documentation of this resource allocation, so they can hold buyers accountable.
Jordan Easley, Sales Operations Manager, Octiv

For more information on how to navigate your own buyer journey, check out the following resources:

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