Host: Jen Spencer

Jen Spencer here. On today’s episode of SmartBug on Tap, we’re talking about buyer personas. Specifically, how sales teams can use personas to close more deals.

Here’s a rundown of what we’ll cover. First, we’re going back to the basics, reviewing what a buyer persona is and what it is not. Next, I’ll review the importance of negative personas. Finally, I’ll give you some tips for integrating personas into your sales process. And if using personas is a bit new to you, I’ve got three steps you can take to get started.

Let’s dive in.

What a Buyer Persona Is:

Let's start with a quick refresher.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your target customer.

It's a picture that you paint based on research and interviews with actual customers.

Personas go beyond basic demographics and include some of the intangible elements that make a person tick.

This information is helpful for answering questions like:

  • What type of content is most likely to generate a response from a particular type of customer?

  • How does your future customer prefer to engage in the sales process?

  • What problems do customers need to solve? How does your business help them solve those?

So, we’ve reviewed what a buyer persona is. Here’s what it’s not. It’s not a role, like Director of HR. And it's not a particular market segmentation, like a “company with over 100 employees in the Finance space”. A persona is not the type of company, the size of the company, or the vertical.

A buyer persona gets into the psychographics of who someone truly is.

Demographics vs. Personas:

Before we get into the practical application of personas, let’s review one more thing.

There's a difference between demographics and personas.

Market research reveals essential information about the people who are most likely to buy your products or services. For example, you might have a customer who could be female, age 25-35, caucasian, employed, single, and living in an urban environment.

These are useful facts that are helpful to know about your customers.

But persona development provides a deeper level of understanding that helps you truly speak to your target customer.

Let's keep going with our example of the 25-35 year old female. An effective interview with that customer for generating buyer persona research might also tell you other things.

Here's a few key facts you might learn about her from that interview: She doesn't own a car, so, the ability to make online purchases is important to her. She has disposable income, but the way she's wired, she still loves getting a good deal.

This information is deeper than demographics and provides helpful insight into the personality of our buyer.

Having your personas developed enables your sales team to tailor their communication efforts, based on a specific individual's preferences.

Don’t Forget About Negative Personas:

This piece of personas often gets overlooked.

But negative personas can save your organization a lot of time and money.

We all know there are certain types of customer who just won't work well with our business. These customers typically end up costing us far more time and money than they really are giving us.

Developing negative personas enables your sales team to proactively identify the types of prospects that would potentially be a drain on your resources.

Successfully segmenting out these negative personas can lower your customer acquisition cost and increase your sales productivity.

Integrating Persona Research Into Your Sales Process:

Here are my four tips for applying persona research to your sales process.

Tip #1: Enable your sales team with buyer persona overviews.

These are also called battle cards. The idea is to help your sales reps understand the best ways to communicate with each type of individual. As a marketer, try to develop a one page persona overview for each campaign. This will help your sales team to meet the needs of your future customers in a better, more efficient manner.

Tip #2: Use your Martech stack.

Segment your database on personas. One of your personas might prefer long, detail-oriented conversations, while another only wants very direct information. It can be cumbersome and inefficient for your salesperson to jump back and forth between these two types of personalities. Have your sales reps focus on calling only one type of persona at a time — this will be more efficient.  

#3: Look for trends in the digital footprint of a persona.

Suppose you know that one of your specific personas tends to visit your API documentation page during a specific stage in the sales process. You can configure event notifications for your sales reps to let them know that prospect has moved to that page on the site. This could trigger the next follow up or at least give the sales rep insight into how the deal is progressing.

#4: If you're using conversational AI, take it one step further.

Customize your online chatbots by persona. Show persona based questions and prompts instead of sending the same generic prompt to everyone.


3 Ways to Get Started:

If you're just getting started with persona development, here are the three places I recommend you start.

  • Step One: if you don't have personas yet, work with marketing to build out these buyer personas. What you build for the marketing team may not be the best format to share with the sales reps. So, partner with sales leadership to whittle down the research for your sales team.

  • Step Two: Segment your database by personas. We talked about this above. You may need to adapt form fields for your website, so start thinking about the best way to gather the information you need.

  • Step Three: Launch a pilot group within sales development. Partner together to incorporate persona based selling in your process. Pay attention to how those SDRs become more effective, so when it’s time to roll out to the rest of your team, you’re ready.

So, how are you using persona research for sales enablement in your business? I would love to know! Tweet me or SmartBug at @jenspencer or @smartbugmedia.

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Jen Spencer

About the author

Jen Spencer leads SmartBug's sales, marketing, and brand strategy. Over her career, Jen has built several demand generation and sales enablement programs from the ground up and has experience working within tech startups, publicly traded companies, mid-market organizations, and the not-for-profit space. Jen subscribes to the notion that “we’re all in this together,” and great communication leads to great partnership. She loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good Scotch. Read more articles by Jen Spencer.

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