There’s a famous saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
While that statement probably holds true in many life situations, it certainly applies to the sales process. We don’t know what we don’t know in the world of sales, and it’s not always easy to read the minds of prospective customers.
One of the best ways to get a better understanding of your client base and your potential customers is to create buyer personas.
Personas are fictionalized representations of the general characteristics, interests, and attitudes of your ideal customer or prospect. Personas help you determine which prospects are a good fit for your product/service so you can shape your communications with them and highlight specific ways your services can benefit their business efforts.
Building personas can make your efforts more streamlined, focused, and successful. Here are 6 things buyer personas can help you and your sales team with:
The buying process often starts online, and your potential customers may be shopping multiple options before they ever make contact with you. Because of the ability for them to form an opinion of your product/service before they connect with you, you need to have something out there 'speaking' on your behalf.
If you provide robust, targeted content for customers to engage with, you’ll be able to get yourself in the game early.
But to do this effectively, you need to know what your potential customers want to know, what may attract them, and what will keep their attention. That’s where personas come into play.
Developing ideal buyer personas will help you speak directly to the types of clients you want to attract. You can then create case studies, FAQs, whitepapers and more, all addressing the specific questions and concerns they are likely facing in their business.
And, the usefulness of personas doesn’t stop once you’ve made initial contact with a prospective buyer.
You can still use content effectively as you progress in the sales relationship; in fact, research shows that companies utilizing inbound content platforms and offering persona-driven content see a 45% increase in their Sales Accepted Leads.
Personas help you interact more knowledgeably with your potential buyers, but what if you’re not their first touch point when they reach out to your company?
Never fear – your buyer persona development can still help.
You can analyze the attributes you’ve assigned to your buyer persona, then use that information to create more intelligent conversational AI messaging.
Your buyers likely realize that they’re interacting with a chatbot rather than a human. However, they probably still prefer a conversation that has a personal touch.
If you’re working with an outsourced team that offers sales chat, they can use your persona data to build chatbot messages and responses that:
- Are in keeping with your brand voice
- Engage your potential buyer, rather than making them feel like they’re communicating with a machine
- Assist in the qualification process and gauge the level of seriousness in their shopping process
- Gather information your sales teams can use to prepare for their first human-to-human interaction with the prospect
When you’ve created buyer personas, it’s easier to keep things in order between your various teams because everyone is united in service. Instead of thinking, “We need to keep our customers happy,” then having each group – from marketing to sales to customer support – handle it differently, a persona can give everyone a specific touchpoint to work from.
Reminding your team what Maggie, your 32-year-old marketing manager customer, would be interested in gives more perspective than just saying, “The customer wouldn’t like that” or “The customer is always right.”
Defining the specific type of person you want to sell to helps you to focus communication efforts. If you determine your ideal customer is, for example, extremely concerned with security, your team should have talking points and communications pieces that outline the above-and-beyond security features of your offering.
And, if you’re working with outsourced teams, personas can also be useful tools for training team members and getting them up to speed quickly. Your dedicated trainers and content writers will use persona-based data to inform their efforts and to make sure they’re steering the entire team’s efforts in the right direction.
For example, MatrixCare, a provider of long-term post-acute care technology, worked with an outsourced sales team to identify a buyer persona and unify its messaging and outreach. Following these efforts, 72% of the leads generated came from prospects within the specifically targeted persona.
Thanks to online connectivity, we have more opportunities than ever to be laser-focused in our marketing efforts and to connect with the specific prospects that match our products and services.
The very vastness of the online space can make outreach feel intimidating, though, and it can be easy to spread yourself too thin or unknowingly waste resources by trying to reach out to everyone everywhere. By using buyer personas, you can narrow your scope.
If you’re advertising via social media or digital ads, you can target the exact demographics that fit your needs. If you’re connecting via social selling, you can find prospects that align with your persona (for example, searching LinkedIn for web development managers in companies with more than 500 employees), then reach out using very targeted messaging.
Using buyer personas can also make the process of scaling or expanding to a new market more painless.
It’s important to be familiar with customs in a market area, especially if you’re selling to people in another country or who speak a different language. Creating personas can give you a good place to start so you can find similarities with your current clients, build presentations/sales pitches that work for the area, and have an ideal customer representation as your team works to connect.
If you’re working with an experienced outsourced sales team, they can also support and inform your persona development efforts, as they’ll likely be familiar with connecting with clients and potential clients in the region.
If you understand who you’re marketing to through the use of a buyer persona, you’ll also understand which of your offerings fit them best. That information can be useful both for initial sales and for building an ongoing relationship/upselling your existing customers.
Identifying persona characteristics can often be done by thorough data review (parsing job titles on product inquiries, reviewing existing client job titles, etc.). However, research has also shown that creating a good representation of your buyer goes beyond data.
A study showed that 82.4 percent of B2B companies exceeding their revenue goals in a given year had spent time on conversations in addition to data analysis. They conducted interviews with customers and non-customers as a means of collecting qualitative information about customers’ experiences.
Those types of conversations can lead to better, deeper, more robust personas, which then can lead to more focused sales efforts and product offerings that address and fulfill the needs of buyers in your specific niche.
Personas can give you that added boost or head start in becoming acquainted with your prospective buyers, but you’ll still have to put in the work. Think of your ideal buyer persona as a map that gives you a starting point.
Seeing where X marks the spot is easy; taking the journey to get there and secure the treasure (a signed contract) is up to you and your team.
Have you developed personas for your business? Did anything about the data you gathered surprise you? Let us know in the comments:
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