Apr 28, 2014 Jack Barry

How to Define Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing and Selling

What are buyer personas?

Buyer personas are the model example of an "ideal customer".  This might include demographic, psychographic and behavior data that helps marketers and sales people to better understand the roles, goals and challenges that motivate them to make buying decisions.  

How to define a buyer persona

There is no one set way to create a buyer persona.  It many times depends on the information available.  You might start with profiling your top 5-10 most recent customers.   Look for commonalities, in role/title, problems they wanted to solve, industry, company size, etc. 
If you are short on data, it's always useful to conduct buyer interviews.  These are great for developing a better understanding of important dynamics such as:
  • What was going on in the organization that led to looking for a product or service?
  • What process they went through in evaluation alternatives?
  • Why they ultimately chose your solution?
  • Why criteria was important?
  • Etc.
And don’t just interview customers that bought from you.  Interview companies that did not buy or that bought from a competitor.  In fact, sometimes you learn more from interviewing lost sales than you do from those who ultimately bought from you. 
Pro Tip: 
Make buyer interviews part of your sales process (both won and lost opportunities).  However, as a best practice, sales reps should NOT conduct these interviews.  Buyers tend to tell their sales reps only what they want to hear.  It is frequently more productive to have someone other than the sales representative responsible for the account conduct the interview. Conduct an exit interview asking the aforementioned types of questions.  Not only will you continue to develop a better understanding, buy you also get the opportunity to build case studies that map your solutions to your customers goals and challenges.

Why are personas important?

Some people like to come up with a catchy name and even a photo/image for their personas (ex. Marketer Mary).  That's fine, but what's more important is a core understanding how those buyers make decisions. 

How to use buyer personas

This type of information and understanding can be useful to understand where to find target prospects, when to engage them, what messaging will resonate, how to prioritize marketing investments and much more.   

Buyer persona "gut check"

How well do you know your buyers?   Ask yourself the questions below:
  • What trigger events cause your customers to search for solutions?
  • What outcomes did your customer expect as a result of purchasing your product/service?
  • Why wouldn't a customer choose your solution?
  • What steps do your buyers take in making a buying decision?
  • What are the key criteria at each step that determine whether or not your solution proceeds to the next step of this buying process?
  • How do customers view your solution? Is it the image you want them to have regarding your offering?

How did you do?  What questions would you add to the list?

Inbound Marketing Checklist

Published by Jack Barry April 28, 2014