Every prospect has different objectives, priorities, and personal motivators. That’s why it’s incredibly dangerous for a salesperson to make assumptions or rush to conclusions: If they’re wrong, they risk alienating the buyer and even permanently losing their trust.
However, there’s an equal danger in entering the sales conversation without any expectations of what the prospect wants. The typical professional has a jam-packed schedule. She expects the salesperson to provide value immediately, not waste valuable time surfacing information she already knows.
Enter: Buyer personas. Creating profiles of their ideal customers helps reps hone in on the best contacts and which messaging to use.
mPath Discovery, a business intelligence and consulting firm, analyzed millions of interactions to discover what’s important to 62 common buyer personas.
“ … CMOs, EVPs, and VPs of marketing are most concerned with customer intelligence, while leaders in the finance vertical are more interested in quality assurance and aligning with regulatory factors,” says Brian Parry, a sales acceleration research analyst at InsideSales.com. “Some of these are common sense — sales leaders want bigger deals and marketing leaders want to know their potential customers better, but it’s crucial to confirm this through data.”
When Buyer Personas Are Most Helpful
This matrix — along with any buyer personas you, your sales team, and/or your marketing team has developed — is most useful when qualifying and reaching out to prospects.
First, buyer personas allow you to quickly differentiate qualified opportunities from poor ones. If you typically sell to restaurant franchise owners, for example, you wouldn’t target the CEO of a family-owned chain with 15 locations.
Once you’ve identified a potential good fit, your buyer personas help you lead with relevant insights and speak to their likely challenges.
According to this matrix, if you want to connect with a CTO, you might offer to share a few suggestions for earning a bigger departmental budget or maximizing the current one.
If you’re targeting a mid-level technical manager, on the other hand, you might send her a guide to planning product updates.
Just make sure your outreach relates to your product and domain expertise. It’s not productive to send a blog post about Instagram to a marketing professional if you offer security software. They might benefit from the free resource, but they won’t be interested in speaking further or learning about your solution.
The Importance of Good Discovery
Leaning too heavily on buyer personas is risky. You might miss valuable context or information because you mistakenly believe you know the prospect’s pain points, objectives, evaluative criteria, and so on.
That’s why you should treat buyer personas — and this matrix — as jumping-off points rather than definitive guides. Delve fully into each prospect’s business goals during the discovery call. Here are some questions that’ll come in handy:
- Which metrics are you most concerned with [right now, this quarter, this year]?
- If you could instantly solve one problem at [prospect’s company], what would it be?
- What are you personally hoping to achieve? How do your current responsibilities play into that ambition?
- How is success measured for [your role, your team, your department]?
- What are you currently doing to achieve your objectives?
- When you look back on this [quarter, year], [what progress, which changes] would you like to see?
If your prospect seems unsure or needs some prompting, try one of these questions:
- Are you experiencing any problems with [area that relates to your product]?
- Many of my customers are [struggling with X, trying to accomplish Y]. How does that compare to your experience at [company]?
Keeping an open mind and treating every prospect as an individual — rather than a carbon copy of the last person with their title you talked to — is critical to discovering the facts you’ll need to win their business.
If you’re interested in creating your own buyer persona, try HubSpot’s free persona generator.