There’s lots of talk about buyer personas out there these days—lots of buzz. And, it’s because they work. It’s a really smart, efficient way to clarify and understand the people you sell to. Personas give us a mental shortcut to understanding our buyers’ needs. They help us ask better questions and connect faster and more effectively—really critical things in today’s B2B selling environment.
So let’s first look at exactly what they are—meaning buyer personas. And then discuss how you can use them to improve your conversations—elevating your dialogue to be more relevant and impactful to the specific buyers you’re engaging.
What they are…
Buyer personas are mashups of a particular role. They basically create a characterization from common attributes or characteristics from people in that role. For example, say you sell to marketing managers in high tech companies all the time. Create a persona that summarizes the key challenges they have, the business drivers, their key objectives, the risks they face, the systems the use, etc. In short, capture the things they normally care about, or that worry or concern them. You’re trying to paint a clear business picture of a typical buyer in this role.
Jill Konrath does a great job of explaining buyer personas and how to use them in her book SNAP Selling. She also provides a really nice Buyer Matrix that guides you through the information you’ll want to capture in each buyer persona you create. You can download it free from her book site: www.snapselling.com.
You’ll want to create buyer personas for all the common buyer roles you typically engage. Start simple with 1 or 2. And remember, nothing’s locked in stone. Add more as you go, improving and updating them as needed. To make them even more effective, assign names, some personality traits, and some personal history. It brings the characters out—making them more tangible. It really helps in a team environment when referring to particular buyer types and roles.
How to use them…
Now, let’s quickly cover how to use personas to elevate your conversations and connection with prospects and customers.
Review the appropriate buyer personas before calls and meetings. Jill Konrath calls it “doing a mind meld.” In short, you put yourself in the shoes of your buyer, reviewing their key challenges, objectives, and desired outcomes. It puts you in the right frame of mind to show better understanding, ask more thoughtful, relevant questions, and deepen the conversation and connect during the meeting.
Personas also help you make good value assumptions about the buyers you’re engaging. You can ask questions and share relevant success stories and outcomes based on your persona-improved knowledge of their role. No doubt each prospect and customer is different, with specific needs and objectives, but this approach helps you be more relevant and in synch with their situation. You’ll find your questions, and especially your follow-up, drill-down questions are richer, and your demonstration of understanding is better. You’ll also find yourself more able to show insight—asking questions that make them think about things they might not have considered.
Personas are a super powerful technique to shortcut the relationship building process. Give it a try. It takes some effort, but if you stick with it and you’ll be amazed with the results.
Hope you have your best year ever.