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.
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!
First, let me introduce a key term that can help with navigating your relationship with a current buyer.
Buyer enablement. Sound familiar? No?
GREAT. That’s why you’re here.
Buyer enablement is achieved when your company provides accurate and efficient information to facilitate a prospective buyer’s decision making. We understand what our client’s needs are, however, implementing a buyer enablement strategy can enhance the purchasing experience and lead to higher conversion rates. Let me break it down in 3 steps…
1. Identifying your buyer
You may understand the company you’re trying to sell to, but you need to evaluate and understand the person behind the decision making. According to a yearly study performed by TrustRadius, almost 45% of buyers are millennials. As much as it might pain the Boomers and Gen-Xers, try to get in the mindset of your fastest-growing target audience. Defining who your buyer is and understanding their values allows you to accelerate the buying process and convert otherwise lost clients.
2. Adapting your content
Once you establish who your buyer is, you can better understand their values. Awesome! You’re about halfway there! A study from Think Google shows that 89% of B2B researchers leverage the internet to inform their purchasing decisions. This means you need to provide buyers with precise data on the web. In order to create the most effective content, Gartner lists four principles of buyer enablement:
Relevant: What are some obstacles your buyers face when it comes to making a decision on a Supplier? Eliminating menial barriers can give you an advantage over competitors
Easy: Is the information about your company accessible for an online buyer? B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time meeting with sales representatives
Useful: Is the information provided to the buyer effective? Distribute resources to buyers that can help them make a decision
Credible: Have you established trust with the information provided? Make sure your content is up-to-date with reliable sources
These are key questions to ask yourself to better understand buyer enablement.
3. “Grease the Buying Process”
How do you make the buying process simple?
Easy—make the buying process simple.
It’s very easy as a leader in marketing or sales to want control within the sales cycle. Research from Forrester shows that “60% of buyers would rather not communicate with sales reps as their primary information source.” Now before you think I’m under-appreciating the value of a sales rep, hear me out…
Sales are the backbone of every company. This statistic mentioned above is a breath of fresh air. You can spend less time trying to oversell and more time figuring out how to close the deal!
For content creators, create content with compelling calls to action through multiple media channels. You can also save your sales team time by providing relevant information that answers your buyer’s questions. The goal is to constantly adapt your content and allow the process to flow with the least amount of friction possible.
Now that you have the tools to enable buyers, go figure out your own unique approach and break the ceiling for your next quarter goals!
Have more questions? Reach out to us! We love helping companies set and reach their goals!
You spent valuable time building a piece of content for your subscribers, maybe multiple pieces, only to realize how few are reading it. The good news is that email marketing is still the number one channel for advertising. In fact, Digital Agency Network found it is 40 times more effective than methods such as social media!
So what’s the bad news? Convincing people to OPEN these emails is not easy.
According to Campaign Monitor, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day, but only opens 17% of them…Those are tough odds to overcome.
Take this inbox for example:
It may be similar to how your inbox looks right now. People are too busy to read 100+ emails every day. They’ll focus on the ones that capture their attention from the start. Since you can’t change how people’s inboxes look, you’ll have to play the game and find a way to rise above the competition.
Better Subject Lines
A good subject line dramatically increases the likelihood of your emails being opened. In fact, Convince & Convert found a 35% increase in open rates from relevant subject lines alone. While it may be just one component of the email, it’s the first thing recipients see.
For marketers, subject lines are an opportunity to stand out above the rest, so don’t rush them. Some characteristics of a good subject line include writing with a personalized tone and staying short and sweet.
For more examples and tips on creating the perfect subject line, click here.
Send Fewer Emails
Don’t get trigger-happy with the ‘send’ button. A study from HubSpot found that 69% of email users have unsubscribed from a business because the organization sends too many emails. When people sign up for a newsletter or subscription, make sure they know what they are getting themselves into.
Be clear in the intro email about the communication cadence so they have an idea of what to expect. Is this a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter? Without addressing this, you run the risk of becoming a nuisance–leading people right to that ‘unsubscribe’ button. Don’t become a spammer.
Wait, how do I know how many is “too many”? Glad you asked!
Segment your list of contacts and test different frequencies. For example, consider using A/B testing. A/B testing can be used to try different techniques within a small sample size of your target market.
In this case, let’s say you have a thousand contacts in your database. Take a small sample, maybe 300 or so, and split them in half. Send one-half a higher frequency of emails than the other. From there, you can look at the open rates and click-through rates to see which frequency has higher engagement.
Another quick way to offer a better experience to your audience is by asking them what they want. For instance, let them decide how often they want to hear from you. This can be done within the intro email by giving them an option to choose from: once a day, once a week, twice a month, etc.
This allows the reader to dictate your relationship with them and provides a more personalized experience as a whole.
Overcome Triggered Spam Alerts
Emails can be sent to spam without having the recipient manually ‘mark as spam.’ Email accounts such as Gmail are becoming smarter as technology continues to grow. As a result, spam detection is becoming more prominent and sensitive to emails originating outside the organization.
Nowadays, email software is designed to detect certain words that are most often found in spam. These are known as trigger words. If you use enough of these trigger words, your message will be sent to spam. That’s why it is imperative you understand how sensitive these systems are, and how to avoid overusing trigger words.
Here a few examples of common trigger words, and how to work around them:
Try to avoid using a word like “free.” This extends to the subject line, title, and body of the email. Instead, try using words like “complementary,” or “at no charge.” Doing so allows you to avoid spam detection while still getting your point across. Other common trigger words include “guaranteed,” “100% free,” “act now,” “attention!,” or any repetitive use of caps or character symbols.
Understanding these trigger words and strategizing around them will keep your emails away from the spam folder and give you a better chance to be seen.
As mentioned earlier, email is still the most useful tactic for marketers. Experiencing low open rates can be frustrating, but you can use it as an opportunity to step back and assess your strategy.
Continue to optimize your subject lines, frequency of sends, and keep track of potential trigger words, and you will have a better foundation to analyze your current email strategy to see where improvements can be made.
Interested in more business tips like these? Subscribe to our blog or contact us today to let us help strategize and increase your inbound leads.
If you had to entice a customer to buy your product using one sentence or less, what would you say? This is the question you should ask yourself when developing a value proposition. It can be difficult to narrow down your product’s value to 20-30 words. Luckily, there are numerous tools available that will take you through a step-by-step process of developing a value proposition. These tools can help you prioritize important information, organize your thoughts, and even bring you to a new perspective or idea that will enhance the way you communicate your product or service’s value to customers.
Here are a few tools to help you develop a strong B2B value proposition:
Bain & Company created a model that organizes valuable elements that B2B organizations can offer customers. The model’s roots can be traced back to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from 1943, which argues humans are motivated by both basic and complex needs. However, this model focuses on people’s motivation for buying products or services. The elements at the bottom are easy to measure, such as acceptable price, while the elements at the top are more objective and difficult to quantify, such as reputational assurance.
Strategyzer, known for their business model platform, offers a canvas tool for companies to create value propositions. It’s composed of two sections, a customer profile and value map. The customer profile describes the jobs your customers try to get done (these can be functional, social, or emotional). In addition, this section highlights the pains customers experience when trying to get the job done and the gains they hope to achieve.
The value map lists the products and services your value proposition builds on. In this section, you should ask yourself, how does your product minimize or reduce pain points? How does it maximize outcomes/benefits? The best value propositions come from connecting your customer profile and value map. The customer profile may contain countless jobs, pains, and gains but the value map helps you highlight which ones to focus on.
This trademarked tool is a product of Futurecurve’s research into human behavior. The six elements are part of an iterative process that leads to a customer-centric value proposition. The process is centered around identifying your target market and how your product or service provides value for that audience. However, this value is strengthened by determining which benefits are most important, how they offer differentiation, and proof to support your claims.
Futurecurve outlines a number of positive outcomes of undergoing this process to create a value proposition. To name a few, companies gain a clear profile of buyer personas, an understanding of what offerings to take to market, and evidence on how they deliver value. For more insights on creating a value proposition, you can check out Futurecurve’s book “Selling Your Value Proposition: how to transform your business into a selling organization.”