Considering that the power in the buying/selling environment has shifted from seller to buyer in recent years, it’s inherently important for every member of your organization—in both marketing and sales—to know your buyers.
An effective way of doing so, of keeping track of who it is your organization is marketing and selling to, is through the creation of buyer personas. Buyer personas are also critical to implementing Inbound Sales into your practices.
According to HubSpot, buyer personas are representations of your organization’s ideal customers, created with consideration of the buyer’s demographics, behavior, motivations, pain points, and goals, all of which are backed by research and insights from your current customers. Buyer personas allow both Marketing and Sales to focus their messaging on a specific type of buyer, keeping all that they do focused and consistent.
However, according to a recent survey conducted by ITSMA, a majority of marketers who were surveyed about the effectiveness of their own buyer personas, a whopping 83%, reported that they think their personas are only “somewhat” effective.
This is concerning, especially considering the immense number of benefits that leveraging buyer personas can offer an organization, such as improving Sales and Marketing alignment, increasing qualified lead generation, and creating a targeted Sales approach.
Luckily, however, there were 15% of marketers from that survey that found their personas to be “very” effective, as they were based on qualitative information gained from research and customer insights. Your organization can definitely join this 15%—especially when Sales gets in on it.
How Sales Can Use Buyer Personas
Of course, some people might make the claim that buyer personas were created by Marketing, for Marketing, in order to better target Marketing content. However, Sales should also leverage buyer personas, as they are proven to have a number of benefits throughout the Sales process. This is how Inbound Selling begins.
Below are a number of ways Sales can leverage your organization’s buyer personas, before, during, and after the sale, which will put your both your teams on the road to harnessing the power of inbound.
1. Use Buyer Personas to Promote Sales & Marketing Alignment
When both teams have a common understanding of who the target of their messaging is, it’s easier to keep that messaging consistent. By understanding what your personas want, need, and object to, both teams can be on the same page in terms of what content needs to be created and what questions need to be asked. By having this common framework, your Sales and Marketing teams will be able to provide your potential buyers a better overall experience, as both teams can engage with leads more personally.
Additionally, through aligning around buyer personas, the lead handoff between Marketing and Sales can be timed out better, resulting in more efficient use of Sales reps’ time. Research shows that 61% of B2B Marketing teams send all leads to Sales, despite that only 27% are actually qualified—an alignment on who you’re attracting, and when your buyer personas are ready to buy, will prevent this type of occurrence from repeating itself in your organization.
2. Use Buyer Personas to Sell to the Right Buyers
But an alignment around buyer personas doesn’t simply prevent Marketing from sending bad leads to Sales too quickly; it also allows Sales to spend their limited time in the right way, on the right leads—the leads that fit their personas, who are representative of your ideal customers, and who are most likely to close into actual customers.
By relying on personas, and continually attracting potential buyers who fit into your personas, you will inevitably generate more and more qualified leads. This is good news for Sales, as it means that time and time again you’ll have similar leads, with similar problems, that you can answer in similar ways. Of course, every lead and every customer is unique, and your Sales approach should always be personalized—however, by using buyer personas, you can equip your Sales team with the insights they need to be prepared for their contact with the lead.
3. Use Buyer Personas to Prepare for the Sale
And of course, Sales can also take advantage of buyer personas beforehand, in preparation for the sale. When Marketing hands a lead off to Sales, your reps shouldn’t immediately pick up the phone and make the call. How would they know what to say, especially considering that today’s buyers don’t want to be sold to—at least not in traditional ways.
Rather, before the call, your Sales reps should consider reviewing the buyer personas that lead fits into, refreshing themselves on the pain points, goals, and common objections. This will prepare them for any questions that might come up and will allow them to provide good answers, valuable information, and excellent customer service, building trust and making it more likely that the sale will close. Your Sales reps should also research the individual buyer on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms, to find out more about the lead as an individual, which will make the call more personal.
So maybe buyer personas were created by Marketing—but who cares! As illustrated, there are a number of ways savvy Sales reps can utilize buyer personas for the improvement of their own processes and targeting. In fact, your company’s buyer personas should be some of the most frequently used and worn-out documents at your disposal.
Remember: Today’s buyers want a positive, personal experience and buyer personas enable Sales to provide just that.