Buyer personas are a blueprint to understanding your buyers, how to reach them, and how to convert prospects into customers.
A well-defined persona includes a mix of demographic, firmographic, and psychographic information about your buyers’ roles in their organizations as well as insights about their goals and what drives them.
According to research gathered by Cintell, organizations who use well-developed buyer personas effectively in their sales and marketing processes see these types of results on average:
- 10-25% increase in marketing-influenced revenue
- 2-3 month shorter sales cycle from persona-based lead generation
- 3x increase in closed sales deals
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to personas is validating your buyer insights with research to ensure an accurate depiction. The other biggest challenge is making sure everyone at your company actually makes use of those personas.
Below, we’ll go over things to include when defining your ideal buyers and how to ensure your personas are reliable and functional for every team in your company.
Ideal customer research
Before you begin to build out your persona, comprehensive market research is necessary to make sure personas are realistically based on your buyers and not just what you assume about them.
You should perform both quantitative and qualitative research, so you know how your buyers behave but also have the numbers to back up your claims. The numbers don’t lie, and if the segment you were considering ends up ineffective in your data, it’s time to rethink your persona.
Quantitative research about your persona begins with a look at your own customers and efforts to gain insight and reveal trends in their behavior and personalities. Look at how they navigate your site, how they prefer to communicate with you, and what ultimately leads to a conversion.
Information collected from your own efforts is infinitely valuable for understanding what types of buyers you should be pursuing and can be compiled through tools such as:
- Social media tools such as Twitter analytics and Facebook insights
- The database of current customers contained in your Salesforce or preferred CRM
Third-party data is also handy for learning about buyers on a large scale. There are many business intelligence services that can show you how your ideal customers think and buy, but some free tools we recommend include:
- Google trends, which shows you how certain buyers search for solutions
- Manually browsing LinkedIn for profiles based on your target persona
Perhaps the most revealing research during the buyer persona development process is what you learn about your prospective and current customers through one-on-one interactions.
Conducting interviews and collecting survey information from your target audience lets you hear directly from them about what is important and how they choose to purchase. And it’s possible to conduct this first-party research while still adding to your pipeline and your bottom line by using sales development reps for market validation.
SDRs speak directly to hundreds of prospects each day and can help you identify trends among your target market.
In the case of SaaS company Members Private Sale, an SDR team working to identify decision-makers in the federal credit union industry found that this initial target market was not the best fit for the auto loan lead generation solution.
Members Private Sale’s outsourced SDRs were able to learn about the needs of the prospective buyers they were speaking to and discovered that this particular solution was not a priority in the industry.
When defining personas, you should always factor in feedback from your sales teams’ perspectives.
“If you are going to be unsuccessful in a market, you want to fail fast and cheap then change direction and try again.” – Brian Cahak, CEO of Members Private Sale
Components of a buyer persona
There are four main categories to include in your personas that are meant to give you a full view of your ideal customer and enable sales to leverage insights during deal-closing conversations.
Each of these categories is made up of the different components you need to fully define your buyer persona:
- Demographic information
- Decision drivers
- Challenges and fears
- Role in the purchase decision
Start with the basics about who these people are. For business-to-business personas, include everything you need to know about what distinguishes these buyers but make sure you only include demographic information relevant to the B2B buying process.
1. The basics. Start with their industry, company size, and job title(s). This is the most basic information you need to know about your B2B buyers.
- Personas with the title of VP will be more drawn to the value gained from your solution, as opposed to Director-level personas who care more about technical benefits.
- If you target personas in industries like construction or agriculture, you might have to be strategic with outbound efforts in order to reach them while they’re in the office.
You can learn more about tailoring your efforts to these specifications on the Identifying Your Prospects and Personas page of our Ultimate Guide to B2B Appointment Setting.
2. Online spaces. Where do your buyers live online? Know which social media platforms they use and which resources they frequent to keep up with their industries, so you can jump in on the conversations they’re already having.
- Marketing can get the highest return from their advertising budget by running ads and sponsoring content in publications your personas read frequently.
- Knowing your B2B persona spends much more time on LinkedIn than Facebook, salespeople can spend their time more wisely researching and reaching out to prospects on the appropriate platform.
3. Keywords. Research which keywords and phrases will catch your audience’s attention and what wording they tend to use when looking for solutions like yours.
- Relevant keywords and phrases incorporated into your SEO marketing strategy make your company and content easier for your persona to find.
- Sales can better nurture their opportunities by using the same phrasing their prospects typically use and messaging that they will resonate with.
4. Communication preferences. Knowing how your buyers prefer to search for information and communicate (including with others in their own company) will help you effectively engage with them at each step of the sales cycle and map their customer journey in advanced.
- Marketing can create educational offerings like ebooks and worksheets that help prospects learn about your solution in ways they prefer to learn.
- Your customer experience team can tailor training programs to buyers who prefer a fully automated, digital process instead of onboarding over the phone.
5. Goals. Determine your buyers’ organizational goals based off of primary research, their job title, trends in the marketplace, and where they fall in the hierarchy of their organization.
- The team responsible for developing your website can create logical paths for buyers to find product information that is relevant to their business objectives.
- When nurturing buyers who match a Customer Service Manager persona, salespeople will know to focus on the right goals: retention over bringing in new business, or perhaps increasing productivity to impress their leadership.
6. Attitudes. Knowing the typical attitudes, tone, and emotions of your buyers can help you better relate to them throughout your efforts, so they feel understood and have more trust in your ability to meet their needs.
- If your persona is in a role with many time constraints, salespeople can predict and match their tone from the first interaction by showing the buyer that they value and don’t intend to waste their time.
- Knowing that your buyers prioritize staying organized at work, the customer success team can guide them through the features of your solution that will help with organization.
Challenges and fears:
7. Obstacles. What obstacles are keeping your buyers from reaching their business goals? Knowing the specifics about what causes them pain in their day-to-day efforts will help you prove their need for your solution.
- If your solution is especially useful for integrating two particular software platforms, your data team can research companies and generate lists of leads who use both platforms and need help overcoming the obstacle of connecting them.
- Marketing can personalize their email efforts so that each persona receives different content that addresses the specific problems they face in their daily work.
8. Uncertainties. You should identify the things that make your buyers hesitant to purchase, preparing your teams to address their concerns throughout your messaging.
- Salespeople can predict the questions that will come up as your buyers learn more about your solution and prepare convincing responses in advance.
- If your persona is known to be resistant to change and questions if new is actually better, you can develop sales collateral that shows the benefits of upgrading to your new solution in a side-by-side comparison.
Role in the purchase decision:
9. A day in the life. Compose a “day in the life” summary of your persona that details their day-to-day responsibilities, habits, and behaviors. This exercise helps to humanize your persona and make them less of an abstract concept, allowing your teams to see things from their perspective and understand their desire to buy.
- When determining a follow-up cadence, your sales development reps can consider typical scheduling conflicts of your persona, such as out-of-office meetings before and after lunch.
- Sales can use a loose idea of how your buyers spend their workdays to relate to their prospects on a more personal level and establish rapport.
10. Barriers. Lastly, it’s important to outline possible organizational barriers that would slow down or stop your persona from taking the next step in each buying stage.
- Knowing a prospect’s budget and legal approval timeline can help salespeople set reasonable expectations about how soon the new solution can be implemented.
- SDRs can find points of contact who have decision-making power and purchasing authority before setting an initial sales meeting, so your closers waste less time nurturing buyers through lengthy approval processes.
As B2B companies move closer to more customer-centric strategies, it’s essential that you understand exactly who is buying and accommodate them throughout the customer journey.
Always perform adequate, accurate, and in-depth research, so your personas are data-driven and not based on guesses. And finally, understand how your personas can be effectively leveraged throughout your organization to drive revenue and growth.