The term “buyer persona” may be relatively modern, but the concept has been around for ages in one form or another. It boils down to targeted sales. In the pre-internet days, that meant taking the time to get to know your prospects through calls and meetings, then adjusting the sales pitch to their specific needs.
The only real difference between then and now is how we learn what appeals to prospects. The buyer persona is a catch-all, the complete profile of an ideal buyer formulated through data analysis, direct feedback and case studies. With all the information available, buyer personas paint a clear picture of whom you’re trying to attract and convert.
The goal of buyer personas is twofold:
- To inform your inbound marketing material by giving it a clear, relevant voice; and
- To bolster your sales strategy by making conversations with prospects focused on their specific needs, concerns and desires.
With personas in place, you can better target your efforts and make collaboration between marketing and sales easier. Follow these four steps to create and hone effective buyer personas.
1. Determine who your ideal prospects are
First, identify what differentiates your ideal prospects from others in their industry. To really flesh out that profile, answer a lot of questions through interviews, gathering feedback and analysis.
Start with the broad and move to the specific. Begin with very tangible questions like what industry they work in and what their position at their company is. Take the time to fully define their responsibilities and the workplace around them.
From there, get into the more detailed elements:
- What are their everyday and long-term challenges?
- What do they want to make their work life easier?
- Where do they go for information while at work? While outside of the office?
- What motivates them to act on a possible purchase?
- What appeals to them enough to alert their superiors or fellow decision-makers?
Be thorough—the more questions answered, the more human a buyer persona becomes and the more relevant it is to actual buyers.
2. Give each decision-maker their own persona
B2B sales involve a lot of moving parts and the approval of multiple people, so it’s important to create individual personas for each of the parties involved with a purchase. That means not only fleshing out the motivations of the CEO or CFO at a company, but also the person doing their online research, relevant department heads and any other executives who have input in the buying process.
Each decision-maker has their own unique attributes, but one of the most important things to hone in on is their specific pain points. What can a purchase improve for them? How do you speak in terms of dollars to a CFO and in terms of growth to a CEO? What’s the hook to get a researcher to run it up the flagpole?
Segmenting buyer personas by each decision-maker helps a sales staff be prepared for every conversation in the B2B purchasing process. It also helps them address concerns before prospects even bring them up explicitly.
3. Use the personas to inform strategy and vice versa
One of the reasons personas may not receive the same amount of attention from B2B companies is because the best examples always seem to be in the B2C realm. But it’s every bit as crucial to use personas in B2B.
We’ve outlined some ways that a persona refines strategy in sales. It gives a clearer idea of the conversations you need to have and how to focus on what resonates with ideal buyers. But there’s plenty of sales history to draw from to refine those personas, as well.
Use the past experiences of your sales people to add greater detail, as they’re the ones who directly observe what’s been working in your current strategy. They also may have identified useful trends, such as whether decision-makers have been getting younger or started to favor different platforms for communication.
4. Never stop updating
Buyer personas, just like the people they represent, are not static. As the business landscape changes, the specifics of what buyers want does too. Thus, regularly revisit your personas to keep them current.
Staying up-to-date relies on having the technology in place to gather insights. Whether that means plugging the personas into HubSpot’s CRM or another platform, you must have something in place to test their efficacy. Gathering insights on what is resonating with prospects and what isn’t is the best way to update personas quickly and effectively. After that, the process starts all over again, creating a cycle of implementing, testing and updating.
Developing thorough buyer personas is an essential building block of any B2B inbound sales strategy. The better you know your prospects, the better you can sell to them.