Buyer Personas: Why They’re Important to Inbound Marketing and Sales Alignment
Why do you think there is such a lack of commitment by many B2B businesses when it comes to creating detailed buyer personas?
Do you believe it’s because of internal struggles? Perhaps it’s a lack of understanding, commitment, or time. Then again, maybe the company simply doesn’t have 100 percent buy-in.
It amazes me how much time and how many resources companies spend on differentiating their brands, but minimal effort is expended to truly understand the DNA of their customers. The single greatest competitive advantage a business has is knowing their customers better than their customers know themselves.
Businesses that truly understand their customers have the ability to thrive in today’s economy.
The Impact of Buyer Personas on Marketing and Sales Alignment
What Is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Personas are created and used by marketing and sales as road maps to understand, communicate with, and interact with an audience segment in greater detail.
While personas are fictional, they are based on real customer interactions and data. They are formed through customers’ online behaviors, demographics, goals, roles, motivations, desires, and problems.
Why Buyer Personas Are Important
Uncovering buyer insight is a difficult task for today’s marketer, but it’s essential to creating effective buyer personas.
Clearly identifying and understanding your customers’ DNA provides you with a great marketing and sales advantage.
A recent study by Cintell, “A 2016 Benchmark Study on Understanding B2B Buyers,” indicated that organizations that create, implement, and consistently maintain personas are twice as likely to exceed lead and revenue goals than companies that don’t put in the work surrounding buyer personas.
Here are important reasons for creating personas and why they can be valuable to your organization.
They serve as road maps for marketing and sales strategies.
Today’s buyers are rapidly evolving, making it increasing difficult for many B2B businesses to understand them. The ability to gain detailed insight about those buyers is imperative to effectively communicating with them based on their core needs. Understanding their behaviors, goals, and problems and how they are changing provides you a strategic road map for creating your personas. This, in turn, will tell you how to effectively communicate with them at different stages of the sales cycle.
They help you create valuable content for your buyer.
Clearly understanding your customers’ DNA is essential to creating quality content based on their core needs. In many cases, your personas will be different based on what stages they are in within the sales cycle. Creating content specific to where a persona is in the buyer’s journey is essential. This means you’ll need to create content not only for different buyers, but for the different stages of the journey for each of those buyers. This provides you the infrastructure to create content that is very specific to your personas.
1. Align Marketing and Sales Functions
The creation (and impact) of buyer personas should not be limited to marketing departments. Personas are just as valuable, if not more so, to sales.
Sales is the front-facing side of business, and salespeople have more interactions with clients than anyone else. Good salespeople can gain a great deal of insight on buyers in the sales process, and information can be highly valuable when developing personas.
Marketing and sales working collaboratively will create better-defined personas and more targeted content at different stages of the sales funnel. This provides sales with a more effective process to successfully communicate with and educate their different clients throughout the buyer’s journey.
2. Provide Sales Value to All Stakeholders
B2B companies today have an increased number of individuals involved in the buying process. This has made it increasingly difficult for salespeople to effectively articulate their core product or service values based on various needs of individual employees.
Identifying and developing personas for individual stakeholders takes away the complexity and provides sales an effective system to communicate with individual buyers within an organization.
3. Use Personas for Brand Messaging
Companies that truly know their personas have the ability to provide a more targeted brand message that resonates with their customers.
This provides a great deal of value in the marketing and sales process.
Creating Buyer Personas
Research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience are all vital components to creating your personas. These personas encapsulate prospects, your existing customers, and potential target audiences you want to sell to in the future.
The following are some tactics to create effective buyer personas:
- Gain Valuable Customer Insight from Your CRM and Marketing Automation Tools
It’s important to review your CRM and marketing automation tools to gather the necessary insight from your contact records. This provides you a lot of valuable information that can be incorporated in the persona creation process.
- Interview Prospects and Customers
You should perform interviews in-person or over the phone to get detailed assessments of how they view your industry, brand, products, or services.
- Gather Sales Team and Customer Service Feedback
Your sales team and customer service representatives can provide you a great deal of valuable information when it comes to your potential and existing customers. Sales interaction with leads and existing clients can provide better information defining buyers, and how they perceive your brand, product and services. This feedback can be instrumental in creating personas.
Data Required for Creating Personas
When creating personas, there are multiple forms of data you should gather and utilize. The more detailed information you acquire, the better you’ll be able to create your personas.
In the research and interview phase, there are a number of factors you’re going to want to ask each prospect and client about. The following is a detailed list:
- Drivers and motivations
- Demographic information
- Fears and challenges
- Individual goals
- Company goals
- Buying habits
- Role in the burying process
- Role in the company
- Hobbies and interests
Yes, creating personas is hard work, but the benefits are immense. If done correctly, the financial payoff can be more than worth the effort.
Remember, companies that exceed revenues goals are more than twice as likely to use personas for demand generation (the process of driving interest and awareness about a particular brand or company) than companies that don’t thoroughly undertake this process.