Max Cohen: Dual Buyer's Journey Mindset Strategy

In this episode, we talk with Max Cohen from HubSpot about the dual mindset strategy when it comes to your buyer's journey.

Max walks us through the awareness, consideration, and decision phase of the buyer's journey and helps us see it from the customer and the marketer's perspective and needed action items.
Max also helps us with some potholes marketers face along the was as well as some myths that just needed to be debunked to help you succeed as you move forward.

Ready to think about your buyer's journey in a whole new light? Then take a listen to this fabulous interview with Max Cohen.

👉🏻 About Sprocket Talk

At Sprocket Talk, our mission is to help you navigate the HubSpot tool. We will help you get 100% ROI across the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, the Service Hub and yes, even the HubSpot CMS. Our videos will educate AND entertain.


About the Expert

Max Cohen

Max Cohen started at HubSpot in 2015 as an Implementation Specialist on the Customer Onboarding team after four years on Apple's Business Team.  He joined HubSpot's Learning and Development team as a Product Trainer in 2018 and is currently a Facilitator for HubSpot Foundations, which is HubSpot's new hire onboarding program.  When he's not coaching new HubSpotters on the HubSpot product and the Inbound Methodology, he coaches New England Infamous, a competitive paintball team.  You can learn more about Max and find ways to connect with him by going to


Full Transcript

George Thomas 0:08
Ready to spend 15 minutes with the experts you admire need strategy sessions from thought leaders brought directly to your ears. Welcome to the sprocket talk 15 minute strategy podcast where every week George B Thomas uncovers the challenges that sales, marketing and service professionals face and of course, the strategies to help them overcome their biggest hurdles. So sit back and set your sights on growth with these bite sized conversations build with your strategy gold, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 15 minute strategy podcast. Hey, sprockets yours. It's your boy George B. Thomas. We're back with another episode of the 15 minute strategy podcast where we try to give you a strategy. Well, we always give you a strategy. The real truth is we try to do it within 15 minutes and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. Today, I'm super excited because I have my friend, my boy, his name is Max and we're going to talk about something very interesting. It might be a little bit of a duel or that It might just be a play on words. But Max, why don't you explain to the sprockets ears, the viewers listeners who you are, what you do, and where you do it.

Max Cohen 1:07
Yeah, absolutely. So, first, George, thanks for having me a longtime listener first time caller sort of situation for me. I'm super excited to be here. So my name is Max Cohen. I am a product trainer on HubSpot learning and development team. I'm based in Cambridge but we run new hire training, you know, in all of our different offices around the world. I basically am the one that helps new hub spotters, get acclimated to the HubSpot as a company get to know the tools and also like learn a lot of the different strategies behind everything that our tools support. So a lot about the HubSpot tools themselves a lot about the inbound strategy, company culture, everything you need to know about working there, mixing it all together, getting the new hires up to speed that's basically what I do.

George Thomas 1:52
Now sprockets here's I want you to think about that you literally have the George Thomas of the internal HubSpot on the screen with the George Thomas version. You the person bringing you value so internet might explode But Max before it explodes. We want to talk about this thing that you brought up and it is dual mindset with this thing called the buyers journey. However, some of the viewers, some of the listeners might not know what the buyers journey is. So let's start with that foundational piece. tell that story and then dive into how you kind of look at it differently. After we know that they're ready to rock and roll with what the heck is a buyers journey and maybe even why it's important.

Max Cohen 2:28
Yeah, absolutely. So the buyers journey and maybe you've heard of this through a HubSpot Academy course maybe you've heard it, you know, from somewhere else kind of explained in a different way. But the buyers journey is essentially the basic or the active like research process that someone goes through leading up to a purchase. So it starts when someone becomes aware of a problem, then they consider different ways to solve that problem. And then they make a decision on who's going to do it best. Right. So there's three stages that buyers journey awareness consideration. indecision. And the whole idea of the buyers journey is basically that it gives you some direction on what you should be doing with your content not necessarily like what to write about that comes from your buyers journey. But when you know like the subjects and the goals and challenges that your buyers have, or your ideal customers have, the buyers journey helps you take those different ideas and kind of focus it into focus it into like different ways that you're actually writing and producing that content in order to like produce the desired effect, which is move them through these different stages of the buyers journey.

George Thomas 3:34
Yeah, and I love this when max says the words and it was multiple times Rocketeers, if you rewind it, someone, someone, someone, someone that someone is us, we all do this, like every single human being goes through this process no matter what it is, like if you buy a pack of gum. Let me paint a scenario for you. You're on the beach, you're hanging out with your loved one. you lean in to give a kiss and all sudden you get the Heisman and you realize you got bad breath. Oh my god, I'm aware I have a problem. So You run over to the gift store and you look, there's mints, and there's gum and you're like, Oh, well, which one do I want? Oh, you know what, I'm gonna do mints. And you go and you pay money for it, right? You considered mints. You decide you pay for it, boom process. Hey, now you're back at the beach. And well, we'll just leave it because it's a PG rated show here. You know what happens? You get that smoochie. And you go, Well, here's the thing. The other thing that you painted in that section Max, is that it's almost been thought of or presented or taught as a one sided thing. So and it's about the content and kind of how you meet them there and what conversations happen from that point, but what what are you saying when you start to talk about this jewel mindset of the buyers journey?

Max Cohen 4:40
Yeah, totally. So and by the way, like I love your example there like the crazy thing about the buyers journey is that it's literally just like breaking down or reverse engineering basic human decision making. And that is so important whether you're consider yourself a b2c business like a bubblegum company or a b2b business. Like a SAS software company, you got to remember, you're always attracting engaging and delighting human beings. So your content strategy needs to be in line with basic human decision making. Otherwise, like you're not going to help these people make the next proper decision and move them through these different stages. So where the dual mindset stuff comes in. This is partly selfishly one of the things that I kind of built on my own, because I generally have trouble like understanding more abstract concepts, right. But I noticed that my customers were having the same issue. So like when I was, you know, way back when I was working as an implementation specialist, helping customers get set up with HubSpot, part of that was advising them on kickstarting their inbound strategy. And you can have an inbound strategy without creating content. The problem is there's a lot of customers using HubSpot that have never built content before. So it's a totally new, you know, range for it's a totally new like environment for them, right, this whole idea of building content going from not building content, so No buyers personas were like a pretty easy thing to like get across. It's like, Yeah, what are the goals and challenges of your ideal customers, you build a good document that shows it to you great. But like, what do you do with that information, that's where we would start talking about the buyers journey. Now, the thing about the buyers journey is that it's very simple. And that's like, the beautiful thing, because every single stage of someone's buyers journey is going to be totally different. So it's not like you can give it you know, such a concrete definition. But where I was having trouble with customers is they'd see like, Okay, I understand kind of the basics between awareness, consideration and decision, but I don't know how to, like translate that into what I actually need to be doing, and what my prospect is actually thinking. So I kind of built this little slide deck that I'm sure will show at some point in the session here that basically breaks down that when you think about the buyers journey, you can just think about it as it's like three basic definitions for those stages attract, I'm sorry, awareness, consideration and decision. You have to actually break it down and think about two different mindsets that you're dealing with here. One is the mindset of the prospect when they're actually going through this buyers journey, and they're at each stage, what's going through their head? And then what's the mindset that you should be in as the marketer when you're creating content for this stage, right. So that's kind of where the idea came from. And when I realized that if you just break it apart this way, and explain these two different sides of it, it takes this more abstract like concept and makes it a lot more concrete and easy to understand when someone's working through each one of these stages.

George Thomas 7:33
Yeah, it's a sprocket tears, I just want you to realize how much goodness there is in that section. First of all, if you are thinking about doing inbound or doing inbound and your content is not strong, or you're not doing content, that is the first place to start. Also, if you heard the word buyer persona, and you started to freak out because you're like, I don't even have that. That is something that you need to build and put in place. And now this idea of these two mindsets, going through this The simple process of awareness consideration decision, I want to dig into that. So let's just say Max, we've got a hypothetical example. You can bring it up and use it, whatever you want to do. But now let's go instead of stepping into an awareness, consideration, decision phase and thinking, Oh, it's something global for my entire company. Now with the realization No, it's actually this persona, and how they'll go through these three steps and how I need to branch off and look at what happens in these three steps, paints, the picture of whoever it is, they get into awareness, what are the things that need to be happening? What do we need to be thinking? Then I'll check back with you and we'll probably dive into like consideration and decision after that.

Max Cohen 8:41
Okay, cool. So we'll do awareness for So the example that I like to use and we actually use this fictitious company that we create in training called sprocket saver, and sprocket saver the whole story behind them is they're essentially a technology recycling company, and they have a buyer persona named tech terrier. So if we think about who tech tareas tech Terry would essentially be, like an IT professional at some sort of small to medium business, right? So, at the end of the day, they're trying to sell recycling services to tech, Terry, this like it, you know, director or, you know, person in charge of computers at a small to medium business. Okay. So when we think about the awareness stage, all right, what you want to think about for your prospects mindset is that they're starting to have some sort of problem. So like, the basic gist or idea behind what they're thinking is, is, I don't know what my problem is. So I'm going to do some research to try to figure out what's going on. So it's very important to remember they don't know what the problem is, but they know that something is not so cool or some not so chill stuff is happening. So if we think about tech, Terry, for instance, maybe, you know, his employees are complaining about the technology that they have that it's too old and busted. They want to get new stuff and they haven't been able to. Or maybe Terry's realizing that they're spending way too much money on technology. Or there's like a stack of computers getting like piled up, and he has no idea where they're coming from and no idea what to do with them. All right. Again, we don't know what the problem there is. But we know that there are some symptoms and some sort of issue happening. So at the end of the day in the awareness, stage, tech, Terry's trying to say what is my problem, and he's doing research to try to figure out what the problem is first. Now, if we flip sides and think about what your responsibility as a marketer is now, knowing that Terry's out there trying to just figure out a name and put a face to the problem that he's having your job as the marketer is to create content that says, This is what your problem is, right? So you know, creating blog posts or ebooks or courses or like whatever it means, like, you know, the, the format of the content is not so much important as the substance, right? So you're creating content And that basically says, Does this sound like your situation? Is this familiar to you? Are you going through x, y, z, this is likely the problem that you're having. And it could be a problem that your business solves. Or it could just be another problem that you want to be seen as an expert in solving. But you got to remember, most of these people are sitting in this awareness stage. They don't know what their problem is yet, but they're experiencing stuff. That's not so great. And they're trying to figure out what's happening. So that's the awareness stage. Do you want shop talk? Yeah, for

George Thomas 11:30
a second. Yeah, definitely. I want to unpack some of that. Because here's the thing. sprocket tears, have you ever been in the place where you're like, I don't even know what's going on right now. Like, like, I got to Google this junk of yours. You've been there. We've all been there. But there's a couple pieces that I want to pull out of that section. First of all, the content, the content, but the substance. Yeah, the substance, yeah, prompts the format. We don't care how you talk about it. Your consumers might care about how you talk about it. aka hashtag video just gonna throw that out there real quick. I mean, you're probably watching or listening to this, but that that trumps the format. The other piece of this is that it is your job. It's your job sprocket tears to know all the problems. You got to know all the problems so that you can talk about all the problems so that when they're trying to figure it out, you're literally the Web MD, of the it tech space for Terry. Right? That's your job. So you think about awareness, my job to know all the problems and to talk about them. So max as they move into consideration. What gives like, what do we got to do then we got to put in place, what are we thinking on this jewel mindset for the buyers journey? Absolutely. So

Max Cohen 12:41
hopefully, through the content that you've provided to them in the awareness stage where you're trying to say, this might be your problem. This is your problem. This could be your problem, right? You're trying to add as much value there as you can. They've transitioned to the consideration stage once they've gone. Ah, okay. This is my problem, right? So at this stage, Terry knows what his problem is. And you know, for Terry, we could use the example of his. Okay, my problem is, is that I'm not managing the end of life, you know, cycle for my technology well, right. We buy all this technology, but we have no plan for what to do when it's like old and busted, right. So that's the problem. So at this point in the consideration stage, they go cool. That's my problem. What are the different ways to solve it? So that's what the prospect is thinking. They're not thinking brand names yet, right? They're not going to sprocket saver, they're not going to BestBuy. They're not going to any other company. Because they don't know that recycling is the best way to solve that problem. So when we think of the different ways that Terry could solve that problem, he could sell that technology, he could donate that technology, you could just tell us you know, employees just to keep using it and hey, you know, too bad. Maybe if Terry leased it did save some money. Or Terry could recycle it. Maybe throw in a garbage you know, bent out back and burn it. There's all these different things that Terry can do. In the consideration stage Terry's trying to figure out the best way to solve the problem, not the who yet, right? So he's thinking, How do I solve this issue? So for you as marketers, once Terry's, in this stage, you want to be creating content that convinces them that the way that you solve this problem is better than all the other ways. So you have to not think about direct competitors. You need to think about indirect competitors. To give another example to go back to the chewing gum example that you had earlier, right? If you were a gum company that created you know, a mouth fresh gum, I don't know. It made up a company on the spot. Gum that makes your breath better, right. The problem is someone has bad breath, but there's a number of different ways they can solve it. They can start brushing their teeth more they can start flossing, they can go to a dentist they can buy mouthwash or they can buy gum You want to educate them on all those different ways that they can solve the problem given the pros and cons of both. But you obviously want to emphasize why your way of doing it is better not you as a company, the way to solve the problem is better. Okay? Because you don't earn the right to position your service until you've convinced them that you do a lot of convincing in the consideration stage until you convince them that they actually need that type of service. Alright, the consideration stage.

George Thomas 15:32
Yeah. So, yes, Rocketeers, here's what I love, I want to bring it back full circle to the fact that you need content. And when I think of ways, I think of paths, right, the path that you must follow. And when I think of paths, I think of pillars, meaning pillar pages that are the ultimate resources on the thing that you do, because those pillars lead to clusters, meaning those sub subtopics those blogs that you should have been writing a year ago to talk about how this all works. works. And so folks content, pillar pages, the ways in which you solve this problem that they're considering. And now they're gonna start to educate themselves. And they're going to almost magically lean into this next phase which Max, let's talk about the decision phase of the buyers journey and the dual mindset tool.

Max Cohen 16:20
So, when you get to the decision stage, at this point, what you're hoping is that your prospect has said, Yes, I'm totally bought into the idea of solving my problem in this way. So if we go back to tech, Terry, at this point, hopefully sprocket saver in the marketers there have provided enough content that convinces tech Terry that recycling is the way to go. So once Terry has landed on or the prospect has landed on like, Alright, I'm convinced this method of solving My problem is the best way to do it. That's when they start thinking about the who, who does this the best, right? This is where you need to start, like stacking your service up against your actual direct competitors that do the same thing or something very similar. Right? So again, in the consideration stage, it's indirect competitors. That's not different companies. That's different ways of solving the problem. Now, at this stage in the decision stage, this is where you get to talk about how good your product is. This is also where that like conversational content with a sales rep comes into play, right? We don't earn the right to pitch your product unless we know they want to solve it in a way that we provide. All right. So here as the marketer, your mindset is like, cool, I need to create any sort of content that I need to create that says this is why we solve it best right compared to our competitors. All right. So this is where your catalogs about your product comes in. customer success stories about using your product, book a demo book, A Converse, a consultation, book, an assessment or an evaluation with The sales rep, not just a sales call, right? That's boring. We want to think of conversational offers. So when someone books, some sort of conversation with your sales rep and starts that relationship, they know there's going to be value in that conversation, even if they don't buy from you. And there should be right we want to delight our customers, even the ones we don't sell to. A little bit of a rant there. But that's where you're thinking at the decision stage. This is where you introduce why we're better than everyone else. Until like, tie this all together. We can't again, we cannot say we're the best one to do X service until we've convinced you that you need x service. And we don't have the right to tell you that x service is the best way to solve a problem if we haven't helped you figure out what your problem is in the first place. Okay, so you need to like work your way backwards through these layers of what I call earning the right to move on to the next step.

George Thomas 18:51
Oh, I love that you got to earn your right and it's it's all based on content. Listen, you knew all the problems. You showed up. The way and then you have to talk about who you that's who. But let me tell you when you think of this, or when I think of this content wise, this is where I bring in versus articles. This competitor versus that competitor. This is when I bring in best articles five best it recycling systems that you should think about today. Right? And, and then, of course, at the point, at the end, I'm like, by the way, we offer this service call to action to the landing page for the free recycling assessment. I'm just saying, This is how this junk works Rocketeers. Yeah, like it's not it's not that difficult. So Max, when you think about like this dual mindset, this buyer's journey that we have to put them on and we have to think about in this content we have to create, are there any roadblocks that you have seen marketers either put in their way, or they're just potholes that they're stumbling in?

Max Cohen 19:50
Yep. And I wanted to mention this, this is kind of like my little bonus I'll throw in here right. Oftentimes, when I talk to marketers before we get into this This little place right here, right? Because you got to remember when someone's going through the active buying process, it means they're researching stuff. Okay? So you need to think about is your buyer persona, actually researching these things? Now what I hear a lot of marketers Tell me when I say, tell me about who your ideal customer is or who your buyer persona is. They generally say something like, oh, usually it's like the CEO, the CFO, the CTO, you know, insert C level executive here, synonymous with whoever the decision maker is, right? They're hyper focused on the decision maker because that's who the salespeople want to talk to. And they only have their eyes on the end zone. They're not thinking about all the work they need to do to get there. Here's the thing though. Your buyer persona or like the buyer persona you should focus most heavily on is not always the decision maker. So for example, if you sell software for like accounting company, Okay, that makes accountants days much easier. I don't know anything about accounting, but I'm sure there's a lot of things that make accounting painful as an accountant, an accountant firm, okay? If you're creating, like software that's for them and their day to day use and makes their day easier, those are the people who are actually out there doing the research trying to solve these different problems in the buyers journey, not the CEO who has like a much kind of like, you know, more generalized kind of view of everything that's going on, and not in the trenches, like an individual contributor, for example, right. So what I always tell people is like, think like long and hard about who's actually doing the research here, because it's not always an almost like it, I'd say it's more so less the decision maker That should be your buyer persona versus like, whoever that researcher, like researcher persona is. So what I tell people for them is like, you want to get that researcher on your side as they go through this whole journey. Because here's the thing, they're not only the foot in the door to get to the decision maker, they're also going to be like your best champion on the inside that does all the selling for you and says, Hey, we should buy from these people because they know what they're talking about. Right? versus like, you know, hoping that the decision maker is doing some research that someone else really should be doing. Right. So I'd say the biggest thing is that your buyer persona is not always the decision maker and think really hard about that.

George Thomas 22:29
Yeah, you got to think about decision Don or researcher, Ricky, you know, I'm just gonna throw that little nugget. I love them, because that's like a little sub piece of the persona that you can throw into play with a smart question using progressive fields inside of HubSpot forms. Just going a little nerdy there for a second. Here's the thing. Here's the thing as the last question, because this is the 15 minute strategy podcast and if I look properly, we've screwed that all up in this episode. Good. Are there any Miss Are there any myths about the buyers journey that we should Just be like, no, like, stop thinking that way. Like, you've got to do this. And this is why

Max Cohen 23:04
Yes, absolutely. And I'd say this goes for the buyers journey and pretty much all of inbound marketing because like really when it comes to the content strategy, this is the backbone of the entire thing. Um, the biggest myth I just want to like, kind of throw out there and this might be an unpopular opinion, to be honest with you. I am a firm believer of when it comes to content, b2b and b2c is a complete myth. You are always business to human or even human to human, no matter what you need to remember that no matter what you sell, or who you sell to be it a huge business, a small mom and pop shop or an individual person. When you create content, you're creating content for a human being to look at, elicit some sort of emotion, build some sort of trust and get them to like help them get closer to achieving certain goals and overcome Coming certain challenges that are in the way, it doesn't matter if you sell to the enterprise or the medium businesses, small whatever it is, human beings work there. And when you lose sight of that, that's when your content becomes completely ineffective. So b2c and b2b when it comes to content strategy, I think it's a total myth. I just see too many businesses say, we're not going to have a blog because we're a b2b business. And blogs are silly like MySpace? No, like, You're crazy. You're using it as a creating content mechanism to get people to trust you. Same with all of your content. So don't let you labeling yourself as a b2c or a b2b company. pigeonhole you into what you can or cannot do for content. You're always marketing to human beings. Yeah, I

George Thomas 24:44
love that here. A sprocket talk. We like to call it p2p, picota people that's all about like, just remember they have the same challenges, the same fears, the same aspirations as you do. They want to be the best they can be and you're your constant. Then what they're researching can help you help them or not. And let me just say, if not, they're not buying from you. It's that simple. You've got to be there. This is the digital world, especially now that we live in, that people are going through. So, Max, if people have questions for you, maybe they want to buy you a steak, a brand new car, because now you've revolutionized their business. How can they reach out to you? How do they want to get in touch?

Max Cohen 25:23
Yeah, absolutely. I'd say I'm most active on LinkedIn. So if you just find me, it's just max Cohen on LinkedIn. I'm a Product trainer at HubSpot. So definitely connect with me there. Most of the content that I put out there, whether it's about inbound or the HubSpot tools, or just like onboarding and learning and development, we're doing a lot of content right now for like remote onboarding as well. That's probably the best way to get me. I also have a YouTube channel. It's just max Jacob Cohen, you can find it through my LinkedIn page, where I just like host a lot of the videos that I really just put on LinkedIn. So yeah, LinkedIn is probably the best one.

George Thomas 25:56
Love it. So Rocketeers, remember remember sprockets, here is here. Do know all the problems, show them the way. Remember to talk about yourself. It's not the time to be shy. You've got to talk about yourself and all your competitors around you remember to watch out for researcher Ricky, because he'll get you sometimes and you got to understand that's part of the game. But more than that focus on content, focus on educating and entertaining your potential prospects leads and customers. And while you're doing all that, and having a dual mindset about the buyers journey, we'll be here waiting for you on the next episode. Did you enjoy this episode of the 15 minute strategy podcast, we'd love to know. leave a rating and written review wherever you listen to your favorite shows and keep that learning going by visiting sprocket talk comm sign up for your free membership. And in that membership area, you can find bundled episodes where we combine like strategies to help you grow better make the world better and share this episode with your friends and co workers who may be battling this same obstacle. You can always reach out to George B. Thomas on Twitter with questions or guest suggestions or just to talk about your favorite Marvel superhero and go out into the world and learn This strategy for your success, and we'll see you on the next episode of the 15 minute strategy podcast.