Create Customer Learning Paths To Close High-Quality Deals

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As a business-to-business (B2B) sales leader wanting to improve the quality and value of closed deals, you might know the importance of a customer learning path. A well-crafted and executed customer learning path unifies sales and marketing around a unified commercial approach, helping B2B sales leaders attract high-quality customers.

Customer learning paths move buyers through different stages of learning, encouraging them to make confident buying decisions and helping the business make a high-quality deal.

In this article, we'll discuss the definition of customer learning paths and the benefits of taking a learning path approach to sales.

What is a customer learning path?

According to Gartner's research, a customer learning path is a strategic, unified commercial approach to taking customers through three stages of learning—foundational, application, and evaluation. [1] This learning path is customer-centric and takes a different approach than a sales-led approach that provides specific, prescriptive recommendations. 

Customer learning paths focus on the buyers discovering more about their true needs and goals. Being familiar with their wants leads buyers to spend 147% more than they originally planned. [1] When buyers are forced to think carefully about their decision-making process, they feel confident about their decisions, spend more money, and create a more high-quality deal.

B2B sales leaders are tackling a complex, multi-channel purchasing experience in the current market landscape. Consumers discover products in many different ways, conduct their research, and come prepared to sales calls with lists of questions. As buyers are sophisticated, sales tactics must be revised to serve the buyers’ needs. 

Per the 2022 Gartner B2B Buyer Survey, sales rep-led purchasing decisions were less likely to complete a high-quality deal. Moreover, B2B buyers regretted their purchases even when sales reps were left entirely out of the process for a digital buying experience. [1] Hence, a carefully crafted sales approach with experienced sales reps encouraging discovery, learning, and challenging the buyer's beliefs is important to a better purchasing experience.

What are the benefits of taking a learning path approach toward sales?

Compared to other buying approaches, such as the seamless path (where barriers to buying are removed) or the prescriptive path (which continually provides recommendations to buyers), the learning path takes a unique approach to sales that ultimately offers a slew of benefits.

Increased buyer confidence

Customer learning paths encourage buyers to think differently about accomplishing their goals. Sellers encourage buyers to consider flaws, weaknesses, or potential mistakes in their purchasing decisions. Thorough consideration of these pitfalls allows buyers to feel like they made their decision carefully. Sellers can also help buyers identify alternative approaches, creating a transparent and supportive sales process.

At core moments of the buying process, sellers can ask questions, encourage deeper thinking, offer alternative solutions, and help buyers think through every element of their decision. These opportune learning moments are valuable for buyers to build their confidence by thoroughly vetting their decisions.

Increased value of a deal

One of the largest benefits of customer learning paths in B2B sales strategies is that it increases the chances of buyers’ spending more than originally planned. This could be through a technology or platform upsell or an a la carte service offered with a product. Customer learning paths build trust between the buyer and seller, leading the customer to trust the seller's recommendations if they think a higher-value product would work better.

Better internal understanding of customers

When sellers lean on asking probing questions, encouraging different thought patterns, and taking the time to understand what the buyer is trying to solve, it results in a deeper understanding of their audience. Sellers learn more about a company's buying process and an individual's goals and needs for their service or product.

Sales representatives can take this learning back to the larger company, allowing all teams to deepen their understanding of their target audience. Through a collaborative thought process with the buyer, sellers can deepen their understanding of how their business's product or service solves specific customer pain points.

How to implement learning paths into your sales strategy

Your business might currently take a traditional, seamless approach where as much friction as possible is removed from their purchasing path. Alternatively, you might also take a more prescriptive path where buyers are given personalized recommendations on what they should do and when they should do it. However, a customer learning path takes a unique approach where alternatives are explored, and customers feel like their needs are deeply understood. Consider this step-by-step process to implement learning paths into your sales strategy.

1. Partner with the marketing department

A close, unified partnership between sales and marketing is one of the most important elements in creating a customer-focused learning path. As marketing teams are responsible for overall company positioning and messaging, revenue enablement, and collateral, they must understand the specific customer problems and pain points.

Across a unified customer learning path, buyers should experience consistent value propositions, benefits, and opportunities for discovery to feel more confident about their purchase. When marketing and sales teams are siloed, audience learnings are not consistently shared and optimized, and there might be a disconnect between what customers say their pain points are and what marketing believes them to be. Without a unified approach, learning paths are less effective, less consistent, and yield less positive results.

2. Assess the six areas essential to a customer-centric go-to-market strategy

Depending on your organization's maturity level, there are different levels of integration between the customer-centric, go-to-market teams. While crafting a customer learning path, you should work toward operational integration using the integrated sales and marketing approach. Gartner's report, Building a Unified Commercial Strategy: Drive High Margin Deals by Aligning Sales and Marketing, shows a detailed commercial integration maturity model for sales. [1]

Audience understanding

First, a truly customer-centric sales process starts with a deep understanding of your audience. This means both marketing and sales should prioritize segmented messaging, collateral, and lead scoring. When working towards operational integration in this area, marketing and sales should dynamically segment and prioritize accounts together.


An effective operational integration between the marketing and sales teams requires collaboration to co-create the messaging and content strategy. Instead of marketing working in a silo and simply sharing it with sales, the sales teams should take their knowledge of customers, pain points, and buying needs and integrate them into both messaging and content.


Measurement is a key process as it identifies the quantity and quality of leads generated for sales. If sales and marketing don’t work together closely, measurement is one-dimensional. Integrating them properly allows the teams to share key performance indicators and track revenue together.

Revenue enablement

If the sales and marketing teams aren't closely aligned around revenue enablement, marketing teams create content by themselves and deliver it to sales. This creates a lack of coordination and initiates a loophole in feedback. When integrated at the highest level, unified enablement spans all customer-facing roles for a consistent, high-quality buying journey and custom experience.

Process design

Process design revolves around marketing prioritization and lead scoring, allowing marketing and sales to qualify leads appropriately. Ideally, both teams should co-create a dynamic strategy that segments and qualifies buyers in real time.

Customer data and systems

Data governance is a priority in a deeply integrated organization, with all teams aware of the formal process of categorizing and inputting information. The teams should utilize customer data to create programs and campaigns jointly.

3. Understand the phases of the customer learning path

To craft an effective customer learning path and apply it efficiently, sales representatives should intervene at key points of the buyers’ learning process.

Foundational learning

Sales reps can help customers better understand their goals and needs during the foundational learning process. They can make the buyers understand how realistic their plans are and explain any potential obstacles in their journey.

Sales intervention might involve asking buyers about how realistic their goals are and if they are aware of any upcoming obstacles.

Application of learning

In the next stage, customers apply what they have learned and feel confident that their purchase will fit into their business. At this point, sellers can encourage buyers to think deeply about how they would use the purchase and any potential costs or challenges that might arise. They can ask the buyers:

  • How could this product cause unappreciated costs or challenges, and how would you solve them?

  • Under what conditions would you use this purchase?

Evaluation of learning

At the final moment, sellers can again smooth the course and help buyers confirm they've considered enough information and know how to maximize the value of their purchase.

Leverage the benefits of customer learning paths

While customer learning paths might seem daunting to implement, they provide a smoother, more effective B2B buying process. By encouraging a thorough decision-making process, buyers can make a more confident purchase, feel less regret, and even spend more money than initially planned.

High-quality sales deals lead to happier, more satisfied customers, allowing B2B companies to increase buyer confidence and deal value. With the ultimate goal being operational integration between sales and marketing, a collaborative, unified approach creates a multi-channel, consistent customer engagement program across every touchpoint.