Who are your customers? What is their job title? Job role?
What are their biggest challenges? How are they trying to solve those challenges?
How can your product/service solve those challenges?
These are just a handful of the questions that you must ask and have answered in order to have a true understanding of your buyer personas.
But it’s not enough to simply collect the answers to these question, add a picture and a few descriptive paragraphs about your personas then simply toss it to the side. Your buyer personas should be one of the most worn-out documents in your sales and marketing arsenal.
And while marketing teams have made great strides in embracing the benefits of buyer personas, the sales side of many organizations are still lagging behind in understanding the full benefits that a comprehensive buyer persona can offer – namely shortening the sales cycle.
Here are a few ways buyer personas can help shorten the long B2B sales cycle for your sales team.
Looking for ‘sales’ in all the wrong places
When you want to successfully achieve a goal, the first thing you need to do is define that goal. Once you have that clear-cut goal in mind, you can take the necessary steps to make it happen. The same is true when you are marketing and selling to a well-defined buyer persona. When you truly understand your personas, you will no longer waste time marketing and selling to the wrong people.
Buyer personas align your sales and marketing department (finally)
According to Marketing Profs, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, despite only 27% of those leads actually being qualified. If your company currently has no way of segmenting your buyer personas your sales cycle might look something like this:
- Marketing attracts 1,000 new leads per month.
- Marketing sends the 1,000 unsegmented leads to your sales team.
- Sales must research each lead to see if they are a viable lead.
- If the lead seems viable after some research, sales attempts to contact that lead via phone call or email
- Quick research and contact – let’s say 10 minutes for each lead – remember, they can’t take much more time than that because they have 1,000 leads to get through.
- If your sales team is able to get through the entire list of new leads, that’s a total 166 hours of time or 41 working hours a week in a four-week month.
On the other hand, let’s look at what happens if the leads you send your sales team are segmented by buyer persona.
- Your marketing attracts 1000 new prospects per month.
- 270 of those contacts fit the buyer persona and are sent to the sales department.
- Sales thoroughly researches and attempts to contact all 270 leads (which takes approximately 20 minutes because they are able to take time to research and find possible connections with this prospect).
- Thorough research and contact for the 270 SQLs, that’s 90 hours of time or 22.5 working hours a week in a four week month.
Now the above examples aren’t there to tell you that you should create buyer personas in order to cut your sales team’s hours. But there are two key differences that will hopefully keep your current sales teams busy with so many SQLs that they may need to increase hours!
- In the first example, with no buyer persona, your sales team spends a majority of their time just trying to slog through the backlog of leads. They don’t have time to adequately research the sales leads to find out if their industry, company size, is a good fit for your company.
- In the second example, the number of leads is significantly less. But because they are buyer persona focused, that means they are able to take more time to ensure they are a good fit and build possible connections that may help build rapport.
Making the most of the sales calls
Buyer personas can also assist your sales team when they are planning their sales call/email strategy. Well-developed buyer personas give sales reps clear information on who they are connecting with. Even more importantly, personas can guide your sales team’s action when managing specific opportunities. Of course, since buyer personas are a fictional representation of what your ideal opportunity may look like, it’s important to remember that every prospect won’t fit every description completely. This brings up a final important point. Because your sales team is always at the forefront working with prospects if during the sales process you find new patterns emerging, make sure to add them to your personas.
By ensuring that personas are clearly communicated and utilized throughout the entire sales and marketing process, you also ensure the ability to keep your lead generation efforts more effective – further cutting cycle times and sales costs.