Behind every customer-centric company, you’ll find a marketing team that’s mastered the art of the buyer persona. These representations of your buyer help companies create the right content, develop the right products and provide sales with the right insight to close deals. With that in mind, here are four best practices to consider when creating buyer personas.
Best Practice #1: Listen to your customers.
Scheduling discovery calls and listening to your customers is one of the most important things you can do when creating buyer personas. These conversations help you find out which decision-makers you should be targeting and what issues they care about. In addition to talking with recent and existing customers, you should also talk with prospects who did not chose to purchase from you. (Sometimes you learn the most from those who opted to go with another provider or simply put off making a decision indefinitely.) Here are some helpful questions you can ask during these interviews.
- Who in your organization helped vet this deal?
- Who was the person who grants budget authority/approval to sign the contract?
- Which other products/solutions did you consider when making your purchase decision?
- What are some of the key questions you need answers to in order to make a purchase decision?
- Please share some of your most current and biggest business challenges.
- What resources, authorities, or experts do you trust most when it comes to purchasing a solution like this one?
Best Practice #2: Work with your sales team.
Laying the groundwork for customer interviews should be one of your first steps. For one thing, it can sometimes take weeks or months to make these interviews happen. For another, depending on how aligned you are with sales, it sometimes takes a bit of finesse to get sales on board with your plan.
For example, salespeople might view requests for interviews with their clients as implicit criticism of how they’re handling the accounts. They might also worry that you’ll be pestering customers needlessly.
If this is the case at your company, you’ll want to first meet with sales and explain why developing buyer personas is important and how it will ultimately help them pursue leads successfully and close deals. Tie your request for customer interviews directly to a pain point they might be experiencing with you. If your sales team is routinely rejecting your leads, for example, let them know that this exercise will give you the insight you need to eliminate that issue.
Best Practice #3: Use your customer data.
Your database holds a wealth of information that can help you create better personas. This can give you valuable demographic information (i.e., what kind of individuals tend to purchase from you, and trends in terms of age, location, job title, etc.) as well as firmographic information (i.e. what kind of companies tend to buy from you, and trends in terms of size and industry). You should look for patterns that might indicate:
- How customers tend to purchase from you.
- Which content assets they tend to be most interested in and what their pain points might be.
Best Practice #4: Pay attention to your “negative” buyer personas.
Not everyone will make a great customer. Sometimes that actually includes people who seem to be huge fans of your company and your solution. Maybe these folks are always front and center commenting on your blog or LinkedIn group. Maybe they consistently download your content assets. That’s all well and good — but if these fans and followers aren’t likely to convert, it’s not worth your time to actively try to appeal to them.
Your negative buyer personas will be based on those prospects who:
- Will probably never buy from you (due to their budget constraints or other reasons).
- Would require you to expend unreasonable levels of resources to acquire.
- Are either too sophisticated or not sophisticated enough for your product.
- Are highly likely to be lost to churn.
The more you know about the kind of customers you’re trying to attract and engage, the better your customer acquisition and retention rates will be. You’ll have the power to develop more buyer-friendly content. You’ll also help your sales team overcome objections, get a leg up on the competition and avoid wasting time on leads that aren’t ever likely to convert.
Ultimately, your buyer personas will enhance your ability to put your focus on your customer rather than your product and what it does. In doing so, you’ll find it far easier to convey a strong message and generate higher quality leads.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating relevant personas and target accounts, save your seat at our Predictive-Powered Account Based Marketing webinar.