A well-crafted buyer persona can provide tremendous structure and opportunity for your company.
What’s a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on your company’s market research and data on existing customers. They help align your marketing and sales departments by setting a clear picture of who exactly your firm should be targeting and serving.
In order to be effective, buyer personas need to be based on real-world information and not assumptions. The more specific you can be, the better.
Here is a five-step process to follow when creating a buyer persona for your company.
1. Research your audience
Let’s pretend you’re back in school for a second…
You’re taking an exam that you didn’t study for. We’ve all been there.
You miss classes, you don’t turn in the homework, and just show up on test day. It probably didn’t work out too well.
Similarly to creating your buyer personas, you have to do your homework. Just like you can’t expect to do well on a test without understanding the concepts, you can’t possibly create an effective buyer persona without knowing your audience.
Study the market. Ask yourself, “Who is already buying from me?” This includes demographics, behavioral patterns, goals, and buyer trends.
Another way to learn about your audience is by using social analytics. These buyers may not be customers at the moment, but the point is if they are searching and interacting with your brand or industry online, there is certainly data to be collected.
2. Identify customer pain points
Find out what problems your customers are facing. What’s holding them back from reaching their goals?
A great way to find this information is by simply asking your customer service team what questions they get the most. Figuring out these pain points customers are experiencing allows you to generate content tailored to resolving those issues.
And don’t forget, not every firm has the same company size and goals. So a strategy that may seem fitting for a company with 50-100 employees, can certainly be different for a firm with ten.
3. Identify customer goals
When creating personas, you need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What motivates your customers? What are they actually trying to reach?
These goals don’t necessarily have to align with a solution that your firm can provide, so don’t sweat it.
This step is about better understanding your customers and looking for similar goals to what other firms may have.
What’s the purpose?
Data. Remember, the more information you can find about your customers, the stronger buyer persona you can create.
4. Why you?
Now that you understand who your customers are, potential challenges they face, as well as goals they may seek, ask yourself, “Why would a customer choose me?”
Because you’re the best!?
Well, maybe so, but customers want to experience and generate those thoughts on their own — another reason buyer personas are so important.
Buying personas help flip your thinking and consider your products and services from a buyer’s point of view. A tactic most marketers don’t even think about doing. If you truly want customers thinking you’re the best, you must know what they like and need.
Once you understand why buyers would choose you, crafting personas tailored to your market becomes much easier!
5. Creating the persona
Now that you did your research, it’s time to start organizing your buyers. Look for characteristics and similarities as you begin creating your first buyer persona!
Keep in mind, your persona is not just some folder on your computer containing all of your customer data. But rather a single, semi-fictional person that you can actually speak to and identify with!
Make sure to give your persona a name, age, and job title. From there, you’ll start filling in more job-specific data such as the number of employees, responsibilities, challenges, goals and any other data you collected from your prior research!
In order to build a strong sales team, it’s imperative to find people who can meet quotas and handle rejection, while also staying persistent and not coming off as aggressive. Hiring the wrong person can keep your company from reaching important goals, so never rush the recruiting process!
These effective interview questions dig into a salesperson’s skills, knowledge, experience, personality, and motivation. They can help reveal one’s true identity and whether or not they will fit the role and overall culture of a company.
Sales Interview Questions:
How do you keep up to date with industry news?
In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships versus hunting for new clients, and why?
What is your approach to handling customer objections?
If you are hired for this job, what would you do in the first month?
Judging from your research, where do you think our company can improve and be better?
When do you stop pursuing a potential lead?
What is your best way to establish a relationship with a prospect?
What’s worse: Not hitting monthly quotas or not having happy customers?
What core values do you feel every salesperson should possess?
What is your long term goal in life and how will you get there?
Let’s take a more in-depth look at these questions:
1. How do you keep up to date with industry news?
Even if the target market from their last job was totally different, this will show their ability to keep up with relevant trends and news in the industry.
Look for answers that revolve around reading publications, blogs, and up-to-date content sharing current data. If they don’t on their own, ask the candidate to elaborate on a recent article or piece of information they recently learned.
Receiving answers like, “Oh, I just watch other companies,” or, “I like to wait until we notice a sales decline to experiment new things” should be seen as red flags and signs of someone who may not be a good fit for your company.
2. In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships versus hunting for new clients, and why?
This is a great question because there is no ‘right’ answer. Some companies will prefer salespeople to always be on the hunt and searching for new clients. While others may want them emphasizing retainer clients and continuing to nurture relationships with them for future deals.
Although both are vital for sales, this will help your company know the type of salesperson you’re interviewing.
3. What is your approach to handling customer objections?
Put simply, listen for a process.
Look for things that revolve around, “I like to ask what exactly the prospect’s concern may be, and search for ways I can help resolve them”.
Having a prepared process to deal with objections instead of just winging it is a must.
4. If you are hired for this job, what would you do in the first month?
Don’t expect a response that like, “Grow your company to make millions.” That’s not realistic.
Instead, look for a goal. Hiring someone who is ready to come in with an idea and action plan in place is a great sign. Yes, you will have to provide proper training, but a candidate who’s a self-starter is never a bad thing.
5. Judging from your research, where do you think our company can improve and be better?
How can you expect an answer from this candidate when they haven’t even started or seen your company yet? Exactly!
This question will test the candidate’s creativity as well as show how much research they’ve done before the interview.
We often hear how important it is to educate ourselves about a firm and have questions prepared for them upon interviewing. This will test their approach.
6. When do you stop pursuing a potential lead?
The right answer here may depend on your company’s process and goals, so look for the obvious. Anything that comes off as “I try as long as I can because I refuse to lose,” should be noted and taken into consideration as an indicator of this candidate’s personality.
7. What is your best way to establish a relationship with a prospect?
Gather insight on how they approach and maintain relationships with prospects. Answers that contain constant emails and occasional phone calls should be a red flag. Instead, look for a candidate that collects information from the prospect and uses it to build rapport.
For example, as a sales rep, if you’re on a call and find out this prospect likes to travel in his free time, ask where. Maybe his answer will resonate and be similar to the places you like to go as well. All of which can help build rapport and make sales calls feel more personal!
8. What’s worse: Not hitting monthly quotas or not having happy customers?
It’s important to listen for keywords with this question. The right answer may be dependent on the company and what their priorities are, but reps who go strictly after quotas rather than truly giving customers what they want should be noted.
9. What core values do you feel every salesperson should possess?
Listen for things like: “Putting the prospect first.” “Patience.” “Caring.”
Remember, you’re hiring a sales rep. If they are not willing to deal with objections and aren’t very understanding or willing to adjust in certain instances, this is probably not the job for them.
10. What is your long term goal in life and how will you get there?
Like every interview, there should always be an open-ended question that doesn’t have to pertain to the job itself. Use this time to learn more about the person themselves and not just their qualities in the business world.
Asking this question is extremely important because it’s a chance to learn something you may never have otherwise known about the candidate.
They may share an impactful personal story about their life, and as a result, it drives and motivates them every day to work towards their goals until they get there.
IngeniousIO is an innovative solutions leader in the AECO (Architecture Engineering Construction and Owner-Operated) space. Their data-driven platform enhances a company’s entire project lifecycle through the use of a cloud-based application. IngeniousIO’s platform elevates efficiency and reduces tech spend by effectively managing operations including business development, project execution, and more! Their goal is to eliminate internal and external fragmentation within the ten-trillion dollar AECO industry.
1. Raising awareness of their platform.
They’ve invested thousands of dollars and many years to create a platform that brings value to their end customer. These resources would be wasted without raising considerable awareness of their solution. 2. Promote their offering in an accessible and interesting way.
Their end customer is not likely to read lengthy whitepapers or market research reports, so IngeniousIO must find an alternative way to present their solution. If done effectively, the true decision-makers should be aware that a solution exists in the market that solves persistent issues.
After doing considerable research on their end customer, IngeniousIO decided that the best medium to communicate their message would be through video. They considered different formats, including demo and customer-centric case studies. Ultimately, through conversations with SmarkLabs, they decided to produce a video that highlighted key product features in a humorous, approachable way.
SmarkLabs took the lead in writing a script that communicated IngeniousIO’s message, consistent with the goals stated above. Once finalized, SmarkLabs went to IngeniousIO’s office for an all-day shoot. Knowing that the video would be promoted across social media platforms, we collectively made sure that the run time would be less than 60 seconds. We shot multiple takes of each scene to ensure that we had the flexibility to choose the best option during the post-production process.
IngeniousIO proved to be a valuable creative partner throughout the course of the project by providing the onscreen talent and offering helpful suggestions over the duration of the shoot. By limiting the shoot to a single day, we were able to respect the client’s time while also making sure we had their undivided attention, ensuring the end product shone brightly. Once completed, IngeniousIO charted a path for their video to be promoted primarily on YouTube through the use of paid advertising.
IngeniousIO allocated roughly $200 a day for promotion on YouTube. Through July 15th, after four weeks of promotion, IngeniousIO has generated tremendous activity from their targeted demographic; they’ve garnered over 475,000 impressions and over 260,000 total views. But that’s not all! The total view rate of the video, meaning those who have watched the entire ad beginning to end, is an astonishing 54%. Since its launch, 41,000 construction professionals viewed the video in its entirety!
While views of the video are nice, ultimately IngeniousIO was hoping to raise their number of inbound leads generated. This month alone, they’ve garnered over 550 click-throughs which leads the viewer to a sign-up form on their website. At this rate, assuming industry standards apply, IngeniousIO has generated 90 new sales qualified leads this month!
Due to the success of this partnership, SmarkLabs and IngeniousIO plan on partnering together on digital and creative endeavors for the foreseeable future. Click here to learn more about IngeniousIO’s unique, value-driven offering.
Interested in ways to find and attract quality connections?
Growing your LinkedIn network helps gain exposure and can be a vehicle to establishing yourself as an expert in your field. In the B2B environment especially, it’s imperative you build a positive reputation for both yourself and your brand.
LinkedIn is the best social network for B2B marketers to communicate with other businesses, share content, as well as engage with prospects. According to The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide, 94% of B2B marketers on social media use LinkedIn to publish content.
In this article, you’ll discover five ways to help increase your LinkedIn connections and grow your network.
1. Post Frequently
I know, sounds obvious, right?
But here’s the thing…
Firms know posting consistent content is important, but how many are actually following through with a strategy? That’s the real question.
For example, in the early stages of growth, many businesses tend to get in the habit of posting consistently on LinkedIn. Great! That’s what you want! However, after a short period of activity, they start to post less because they’re not seeing a positive ROI from their efforts.
But here’s the problem…
You need to give your posts TIME.
If you are relatively new to the LinkedIn world in terms of consistently staying active, your page will need time to grow so it can reach an audience. And in order for that to happen, you must be dedicated to posting A LOT. That means posting multiple times a day or at the very least a few times a week.
When you consistently stay in the feeds of your followers, there’s more opportunity to comment, like and share your posts. This interaction gets you introduced to their connections and gives you another way to grow your network.
Be sure your posts are adding value by talking about your business as well as industry updates.
For instance, if your company provides resources such as consistent blogging or webinars, share them! Get in the habit of promoting new content as well as company updates to your page. After all, if you are going to have a LinkedIn page, why not be as active as possible on it?
Want to make these posts even more appealing and enticing for your readers? Include a CTA!
2. Engage With Your Connections
Review your LinkedIn feed regularly and share, comment on and like updates posted by your connections.
You can start relationships with new connections by commenting on their updates and joining conversations on popular posts. All it takes is one helpful response on a post for that prospect or firm to notice you and check out your page. Do this enough times, and you will encounter people who want to learn more about you. That’s when your network can really start to grow!
3. Add LinkedIn URLs to Emails
Your LinkedIn profile can work for you in many ways: as a resume, a collection of previous client work, awards and accomplishments, testimonials, etc. all in one convenient spot.
We all send emails, right? Sometimes hundreds a day to clients, prospects, and leads.
In your email signature, start adding your LinkedIn URL at the end! Sending prospects to Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms may work, but none of those platforms provide the benefits and opportunities that LinkedIn does.
4. Add Keywords to Your Profile
Just like writing for SEO to get your content ranked on Google, keywords in your profile will help prospects find you. The main areas to focus on are your “Headline,” “Summary,” and “Experience” sections.
These sections are all searchable and are where your traffic will spend most of their time.
When filling out these sections and writing for SEO, tell stories, be creative, and use any keywords that you believe are most relevant to your content.
Try putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Think about something you like to search and learn more about. What are the words that you’re actually typing? And how are the results that come up related to what you wrote?
Now work in reverse order to make sure the keywords you would search for are prominently featured on your page!
5. Personalize Your Connection Requests
When you’re scrolling through your feed and click the ‘connect’ button on someone’s name, LinkedIn will send a pre-written message that’s cold and impersonal. Something along the lines of, “Let’s connect!” These types of requests are typically ignored.
Visiting someone’s profile and sending something like, “Hi! I’d like to join your LinkedIn network” is also ineffective because it comes off as simple and lazy.
Instead, visit the person’s profile and put some time and thought into your connection requests. Write a personalized note that is friendly and inviting. You’ll also want to explain why you want to connect and the advantages it can bring to you both.
Whatever you do, DO NOT make it a sales pitch! Remember, we are trying to connect with these individuals to build rapport and grow each other’s network. There is a time and a place for closing a sale, and trying to connect with someone new on LinkedIn is not the time or the place to be pushy with sales.
As mentioned earlier, getting peers and prospects to land on your LinkedIn page is the end goal. Post frequently using keywords, be active on feeds, use URLs in emails, and personalize your messages.
When done correctly, this gives you the best shot at leading prospects to your page. And the more prospects you can funnel to your page, the faster you’ll grow your LinkedIn network!
You’re spending long hours at work desperately trying to close deals with under-qualified leads, thanks to your marketing team. To make matters worse, maybe your marketers are accusing you of not properly following up with leads, resulting in lost deals.
If that scenario sounds familiar, I’m here to tell you it’s all avoidable.
You are all a part of the same company, right? Everyone is trying to get to the bottom line and improve overall growth, right?
Then why are we competing with each other!
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
How are we supposed to know who is performing best and where we need help if we all work together?
Well, that’s where smarketing comes in!
Smarketing is the alignment between your sales and marketing teams, created through shared goals and executed through a collaborative strategy.
The better you are at smarketing, the lower your cost of customer acquisition will be. This means increased leads and more closed deals at a lower price. Here are a few facts every salesperson needs to keep top-of-mind when discussing marketing.
You need marketing to tell a story
No matter how great your product or service is, you should never rely on selling features alone. Creating a desire for your product helps bring more value and interest to your buyers. That’s where marketing steps in.
When you buy a car you will almost always have some sort of emotional connection tied with the one you choose. Before finalizing the deal, you need to be connected and know the product is right for you. Feelings and emotions that just can’t be felt from a salesperson’s persuasion alone. This holds true with any sale that’s not an impulse buy.
Things like blogs, testimonials, social media efforts, and videos are just a few of the many ways you can use marketing to help tell a story and increase emotional appeal — ultimately easing the sales process.
Marketing helps build trust
“Nobody likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy.”
The old fashioned, high-pressure sales tactics no longer work. Even if you have won the sale, that doesn’t mean you’ve garnered a long-term relationship.
When was the last time you bought something from a company you didn’t trust? Odds are, most of your purchases feel comfortable because you trust a firm or brand.
Buyers want to conduct business with people they know, like, and trust. Lucky for you, you can get your prospects closer to these goals with help from your marketers! Present your marketing team with questions and objections that often arise from your conversations. As a result, marketers can develop content that addresses how your product/service will help serve these needs.
Marketing helps determine when a person is “sales-ready”
Your marketing team can use data and tactics to help determine which prospects are actually sales-ready. Instead of cold-calling 500 prospects, marketing can help strip out the “noise” and provide a clearer direction for the sales team. Out of those 500 prospects, marketing may identify 50 that could use a hard sales pitch, while the remaining 450 require further nurturing. The point is, sales can direct their time and efforts to those prospects who are actually interested. Monitoring behaviors like email opens and click-throughs, social media engagement, and downloads are all great tell-tale signs that a prospect may be sales-ready.
You need each other
Simply put, sales without marketing is difficult. Without marketing, you’d have to make up for lost ground — tackling the tasks of storytelling, being persuasive, and finding emotional appeal without the assets you really need! As a result, it’s a lot harder to grow the company and increase revenue without the support of marketing.
The bottom line is this: Marketing provides the roof over the sales force while they’re inside working hard to close deals and increase revenue. When used correctly, your marketers will help eliminate any outside noise and funnel quality leads to the sales team.
Proper alignment between the sales team and the prospect is what ultimately closes deals. What’s vital to remember is that the “sales team” is actually made up of both salespeople and marketers. After all, you serve the same function and should have the same goals.
Now that you have a better understanding of how these departments should align, gather your sales & marketing teams together to bury the hatchet and start fresh!