By Ryan Malone

Persona development allows you to get inside the heads of your customers so you can create better marketing materials and optimize your sales process. This type of understanding cannot be achieved in a vacuum or simply by looking at spreadsheets filled with data. You need to talk to real people, both your existing customers and the people that regularly interact with them.

The persona development process has three important steps:

  1. A kick-off meeting with your sales and marketing teams
  2. Interviews with customers
  3. Creation of persona profiles

The first step is critical for truly understanding the ways that customers make purchasing decisions. They may exhibit behavior that they don't recognize or won't think to tell you during an interview.

Persona Development and Your Sales Team

Salespeople constantly interact with customers on the phone, by email, and in person. In some cases, they may know more about how an individual makes a purchasing decision than the buyer himself. Use this knowledge to your advantage by including your sales team in the persona development process. They can add valuable insights such as:

  • The questions that potential customers most commonly ask
  • The objections they most often encounter
  • The sales pitches that resonate most with different customer types
  • How certain customer types prefer to interact

Don't rely on your sales team to create a persona profile for you. They might not even know just how much valuable information they possess. Be prepared with interview questions that will draw out the details you need to develop buyer personas.

Persona Development and Your Marketing Team

If you have an established business, developing personas should not include reinventing the wheel. Use the data you already have from previous inbound marketing campaigns to help you create persona profiles.

Your marketing team can tell you about the marketing tactics that worked well and, sometimes more importantly, about those that failed. They can also tell you important details such as:

  • How visitors behave on your website
  • Which calls to action have generated the best responses
  • The blog posts that received the most traffic and comments
  • Which marketing content gets the most attention
  • Where customers are located and other demographic information
  • The keywords that are most used to reach your content

All of these details can tell you more about how your customers behave and what paths they take to make purchases. However, when developing personas, the next step in the process is just as important: interviewing customers.

When is the last time you asked your sales and marketing teams about how your customers behave?

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Ryan Malone

About the author

Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.

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