Strong, accurate buyer personas are a powerful tool for your sales team to have, and can drive successful sales numbers. A buyer persona, as defined by Hubspot, is a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” Basically, it’s a characterization of someone in your target audience that helps you identify other ideal customers, who they are, what they care about, and how you can tailor your messages to them to increase your chance of conversion.
What can you learn from a buyer persona?
- The type of content your prospects are most likely to engage with
- Where your prospects are spending time, and where your messages can best reach them
- What are the specific issues or challenges faced by a prospect, so they can be addressed in sales conversation
Creating a buyer persona
A good buyer persona starts with your ideal client profile in mind. High level items in a client profile typically include industry, number of employees, revenue, location, or other fundamental facts about the target. Start with these facts, and keep building. When creating a buyer persona, you don’t just want to document what you already know. You want to go further to define personal information that can help you engage with this “person.”
Here’s an example of a buyer persona description that’s factual, but not necessarily insightful.
Director of HR for a manufacturing company in the United States with over 1,000 employees.
Start building by adding more information. Give the “person” a name if you want, and add some additional demographic and psychographic data: information about their interests, personality, values, opinions, and lifestyle.
Ashley is the Director of HR for a manufacturing company in the United States with over 1,000 employees. Ashley is female, age 35-55, and lives with her spouse and children. She is outgoing and personable. As Director of HR, she is constantly searching for solutions for retaining employees, as her performance is measured partially on employee turnover. She turns to the internet for solutions for problems she encounters, but she places higher trust in referrals from her peers and professional organizations when it comes to making business decisions. Ashley uses her smartphone more frequently than her laptop, thus she reads every email she receives on her mobile device and can be reached more easily at her cell number than her office line.
With the addition of some demographic and psychographic data, you’ve got a deeper understanding of what Ashley cares most about, and the best ways to communicate with her. If you didn’t know some of these details, you may waste energy reaching out to her in ways she’d never respond to, trying to solve problems she doesn’t have. By creating a more complete picture, you’ve made it easier to sell to this person, and anyone who fits a similar profile.
Buyer personas can’t be created in a vacuum. You’ll need to do some interviews to gather data that will make your personas more accurate. With a good buyer persona in hand, it’s easier to serve customers throughout their buying journey.
Creating a buyer persona for sales
Step 1: Perform customer interviews
Collect basic information:
- Persona name
- Company information
- Industry/type of company
- Persona’s challenge/need
- Why it’s important
- Location (ie., suburbs, city, etc.)
- Family size and type
- Personality (ie., outgoing, friendly, quiet, etc.)
- Habits/Decision-making criteria
- Goes where to find solutions?
- Makes decisions how?
- Goes where to find news and trends?
- Technology used
- How/when calls are made
- How/when emails are done
- Communication style
Step 2: Write persona descriptions
After you collect and review your data, you’ll need to write it out in a usable way. Download this sheet to use as a guide, filling in your own information. You should personalize this as needed to fit your customers and business.
[Name] is the [Role] for a [industry] company located in [geolocation] that has [number of employees]. [Name] is constantly looking for solutions to [challenge/need] because [why it’s important].
[Name] is [gender], [age], and lives in [location] with [family type] of [family size/details]. [Name] is [personality] — the type of person who [how it manifests].
[Name] goes to [where] to seek solutions for every type of problem they encounter, but also trusts [decision-making criteria/source] when it comes to making business decisions. [News source] is their go-to resource for news and current trends.
[Name] tends to use [technology used], and getting them on a call requires [how/when calls are made]. You’re likely to hear from [Name] via [Communication method]. [Communication style].
Step 3: Equip the sales team
Create a reference for sales reps
Create and distribute a single-page reference that includes your persona description and other sales details. The point is to make the most relevant research about your ideal clients available in a quick-reference format to enable the sales team. Use our template as a base.
Integrate personas with your sales engagement tool
Once you develop your buyer personas, you’ll want to make them easy to access and use. Build the personas into your sales team’s workflow if possible. If you include persona details right in your sales engagement platform, your sales team can access information like best time of day to call, most effective communication channels, and more. Part of the benefit of doing persona research is that you won’t have to guess which sales communication methods will engage your prospect. You’ll already know.
Putting personas to work
Buyer personas don’t replace the initial discovery, but they serve as a tool to help sales reps approach leads with a general idea of what that prospect values and struggles with even before the first conversation. It will also help reps tailor their communications to the buyer’s preferences.
In addition, personas can unite sales and marketing efforts to make both departments more effective. It’s not uncommon for the sales team to pursue different personas than the marketing team has considered. Or, maybe the marketing team is filling their funnel with content directed to the position a level lower than the actual buyer. This creates a disconnect between the messaging that’s getting out to prospects and the ways your sales team is actually selling to them. However, when both sales and marketing are aligned on which buyer personas to pursue and how to engage them, you can better tailor your messages and increase your chance of conversion.
Make Personas Part of Your Process
Sales success depends on keeping your customers at the center of your efforts. That’s why it’s important to have well-researched, well-documented buyer personas. A buyer persona includes information on your ideal client’s industry and helps define a good client and then address how to talk to them directly. But they won’t work if you don’t use them. So do the research, create your personas, and then make them easily accessible.