Understand Your Buyer Personas – and Take Your Sales to the Next Level
January 28, 2016
Understanding your buyer personas is the key to taking your sales to the next level!
How well do you know your prospective customer? It’s no secret that one of the keys to a successful marketing strategy is understanding the people that you are marketing to.
As the means we use to reach our customers become ever more sophisticated, so too do the profiles of these customers themselves. This complexity of profiling also means that the hand-off from marketing to sales requires tools to communicate effectively the nature of a prospective client, what they care about, and how to help them. One of the most important tools marketing teams use to differentiate, target and sell prospective customers is buyer personas.
Defining Buyer Personas
What is a buyer persona? First of all, let’s define the term.
Essentially, a buyer persona is a representation of the person or group of people most likely to be interested in your product.
Say, for example, you sell snow shovels. At its most basic, one of your buyer personas would consist of homeowners living in colder climates. Another buyer persona might be hardware store owners who need to replenish their supply. You might put various attributes on these targets to be more specific about who they are; for example, hardware store owners with at least $100K in sales.
But identifying the buyers is only part of the process. You will also identify the various roles they might take, and the influencers in their buying decisions. A hardware store owner might be both the owner and manager, or just the owner. An influencer might be an administrative assistant who searches for supplies in catalogs and online.
Once you have roles defined for each, you would further refine your understanding of them by identifying their pain points, fears, aspirations, and purchase process.
Now it is time to match them to the products and services you sell. A hardware store manager is concerned with making his customers happy during a snow storm. He will probably want reliable products and various types for different categories of people. He might want to buy salt as well.
To take this a step further: understanding the viewpoint and mind-types that cut across all your segments will help you develop a clear picture of your buyer personas. Some people might buy on the recommendation of authorities; others might need social proof and reviews from the community of users.
Understanding Buyer Personas
Once you determine and understand your buyer personas, they become instrumental in developing the right content for the audiences you’re targeting with your marketing—content that is relevant in approach and tone, and that speaks to the proper audience. At Galileo Tech Media, we call this Wise Content.
And once a prospect is handed off to sales, understanding their buyer persona becomes critical in developing a relationship and eventual sale.
During each stage of the purchase process, the different buyer personas require specific content and nurturing techniques appropriate to their role, needs, fears, aspirations, and mind-type.
For example, some prospects might need friendly calls from a sales rep, while others might need white paper specifications of the durability of the snow shovels. Armed with a buyer persona matched to the right prospect, a sales rep can make the most effective outreach and have a better chance of closing a sale.
How to Develop Buyer Personas
How do you develop an effective buyer persona? Start with the basics.
A lot of businesses attract more than one type of buyer, differentiated by elements including geographic location, age, gender, and financial means. Once you’ve established the basics, start asking more probing questions about:
- Potential purchase concerns
This will help as you develop a personality profile for each and every persona.
The more realistic and elaborated your buyer persona, the more easily you can market to that target audience. Most marketers even provide each persona with a name and a picture. If you’re looking for a place to start, here is a buyer persona template – a step-by-step guide for creating a comprehensive persona.
Next you can begin to develop a more granular level of information about your buyer personas through concrete statistical analysis.
The emergence of Big Data and its unprecedented depth and breadth of information offers countless ways to harness the power of your audience. By studying their patterns via web and mobile device usage, email activity, tweets and shares on social media, and other factors, you can further segment your target demographic and fine-tune your marketing message in ways you never could before. There’s a term for this type of data-focused behavioral knowledge – Digital Body Language – and it lays the groundwork for a more comprehensive understanding of your audience, which in turn enables you to develop truly exceptional content for them.
Bear in mind, too, that user personas change over time, as your business grows. Be sure to schedule some time once a year to revisit your buyer personas and make changes if necessary.
How to Market to Your Buyer Personas
How do you market to your buyer personas? Now that you’ve put in the work determining exactly who your buyers are, you can fine-tune your marketing message to suit these different groups.
Your delivery method will most likely vary as well. If, for example, one of your personas is a single millennial living in an urban area, your focus will probably be more social media-focused. An older person living in the suburbs, on the other hand, may respond better to email.
It’s important to begin marketing campaigns by asking:
“How do we meet the personal needs of our buyers?”
“How can we get into the buyer’s wallet?”
Brands must come to the table with a customer-centric attitude.
If this level of segmentation sounds like a lot of work, remember:
The more time and effort you invest on the front end of your content marketing endeavors, the more tangible results you’re likely to reap in the long run. Consider, too, the rise of marketing automation as a means of streamlining your outreach and maximizing your time while providing different user groups with targeted, effective messaging.
Of course, while marketing automation is a truly exciting development, it’s only effective as part of a comprehensive strategy. It’s not a “quick fix” that can be implemented on its own.
How to Sell to Buyer Personas
How do you sell to buyer personas?
One of the common misconceptions of businesses is being fooled into thinking their sales reps understand their customers. But sales reps need authoritative workups on who you’re selling to, what they care about, and how you help them. This is where the buyer persona is critical, as it tells the sales reps about the target’s profile, roles and titles, influencers, priorities, plans, solutions and the appropriate products and services to sell them.
Your CRM should understand the different buyer personas and help the sales rep with the content and contacts that go out to their prospects. You can have different outbound email templates for different personas. As well as differing post-meeting templates, nurturing templates—even descriptions of the company, products, and services can vary for different personas.
The lead metrics can differentiate between personas. How often to contact, types of contact, outcome goals, and types of proposals can be developed for each buyer persona. It becomes easy to see how buyer personas can become a critical part of your Sales Playbook, since they are often organized around buying decisions. A buyer persona is critical in understanding deeply the intersection between what a buyer wants to hear and your strongest capabilities.
When you meet the buyer’s basic needs and speak their personal language, you are creating a relationship and not just a transaction. This requires a special blend of art and science, and marketing partners that dig into your brand and breathe it just like you do. You also need to put this information directly into your sales process and use it to nurture more prospects into customers.
More About the Author:
Joseph McElroy, CEO of Galileo Tech Media, is a technology and in-bound marketing expert who understands it takes much more than “words” to enhance a brand. It takes wise words, wise content. Joseph possesses the depth that allows him to live and breathe a brand, and realizes the emotional and psychological elements of marketing. Joseph’s experience with big-data tools, in-bound marketing strategy and implementation, and all the ins and outs of wise content development have brought him in contact with some of the top brands in the world.
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