Imagine taking an important meeting with a potential new business partner. Would you go into the meeting cold? Or would you do research in order to know exactly who you are potentially doing business with? As a leader in your company, your answer is probably the latter. In today’s day and age of Linkedin, Twitter, and company ‘About Us’ pages, doing a bit of cyber snooping is not only easy, but expected.
Buyer Personas are very much the same. A way for your sales and marketing team to peel back the proverbial curtain and peek inside the minds and lives of potential buyers. The insight gained from personas provides marketers and salespeople valuable insight to better target prospective customers, which ultimately creates more sales opportunities.
Buyer personas aren’t new, marketers have used them for decades. But while 44% of businesses report that they do in fact have personas created, 85% of those companies say they aren’t using them effectively. That’s like having a high powered sports car and never taking it above 35 mph. (Does that make anyone else sad?)
One client told us last week,”I’ve used personas before for B2C work, but now — with your help — I understand how detailed B2B buyer personas will really help our sales people know how to talk to our prospects in a way that’s tailored to every prospect. Teasing out the concerns, challenges, and questions that each persona has is hard, but the information is extremely valuable to sales.”
So let’s revisit how exactly personas can help YOUR sales team.
Content that gets MQL’s and SQL’s
A common friction point between sales and marketing is that salespeople often feel that marketing’s content doesn’t speak to their buyers. What does this mean for your sales team? Unqualified or partially qualified leads that don’t go anywhere.
With well thought-out, fully developed personas your marketing team can create content and a GamePlan that will drive more of your target personas down the sales funnel. Focusing your content on your personas will not completely eliminate unqualified leads, but it will greatly increase the qualified leads your sales team is so desperately seeking.
Talk the talk
Although MQL’s and SQL’s have visited your website, downloaded content, and have maybe even filled out a form to be contacted by a member of the sales team – that person is, in many ways, a cold call. You don’t know them and unless you do business by Skype or Google Hangouts you can’t see them, which leaves you without even the benefit of body language. Without some sort of knowledge you may be going in completely cold in your conversation with them, which isn’t easy, no matter what your sales expertise. A persona can give you incredibly valuable insight into the people you will potentially speak to.
Another side note is the ability to incorporate your personas into your sales pitch or elevator speeches. Once you fully understand your persona(s) they can be integrated into every part of your sales and marketing process.
What should my buyer persona tell me?
Companies at different stages are going to usually have different budgets and different needs. Your offering is likely to resonate best with customers at a particular stage. For example, if you sell a specific SaaS, you may find that your sweet spot is companies with 50-100 employees who generate $10-$20 million per year. Knowing your ideal company size(s) is integral to targeting ideal leads.
Why should you care if this persona is married or has children or how they spend their free time? Common ground is a great ice-breaker and helps you build rapport. Good rapport is one of the most important elements of building trust during the sales process.
Are you selling software? Whether your product can or must integrate with a particular platform (Salesforce, HubSpot, Google, etc.), it pays to seek out customers using compatible tech. Everyone wants to buy tools that work well with their existing technology. As important as it is to interview prospects in order to get an overview of who they are and the technology they use, you can also use good old fashioned research to mine this info. One of our favorites here at Alaniz Marketing is Site alerts which gives you information on all the technology your prospective company is currently using.
Common Buying Objections
Prospects in a particular role might frequently ask similar questions or raise similar objections. Salespeople need to be prepared with answers to common questions and ways to overcome objections (when appropriate).
Role in the company
Who in the company is going to help your sales team close the deal? Do you need to target an IT Director, CEO or COO? Knowing the job title and role of the decision maker or at the very least, an influencer in the buying decision is imperative. If you pitch your idea to the wrong person in the company you waste everyone’s time and will probably lose the sale.
After identifying which job titles to target, it’s important to understand what goals these particular personas are looking to accomplish. Predetermining success criteria is the best way to ensure that your sales team’s message is on point the moment a conversation begins.
This, to me, is the most important thing for your sales team to understand. What challenges are your prospects facing? What are their pain points? A good salesperson will create opportunities for themselves by creating solutions to those pain points (hopefully your product or service).
Note: These are just a few of the questions your completed persona should answer.
Measuring results to get it right
Every day sales and marketing becomes more driven by measurement. And with tools like HubSpot – creating, launching, and just as importantly analyzing buyer focused campaigns is relatively easy. By tagging your specific persona in your campaign you can see what blogs are getting traction, which eBooks are getting downloaded, and what emails are getting clicked. Or on the other hand, what isn’t hitting the mark and what needs to be tweaked for the next campaign.
Buyer personas aren’t just for marketers. When your sales team embraces all the benefits your personas have to offer, you will find that your sales increase and the frustration over lack of leads decreases.