To deliver a stellar performance, great actors engage in an extensive process to get inside the head of their characters – understanding their persona. Similarly, imagine if your sales force were armed with such a deep understanding of their buyers. Not only would it improve their ability to connect with prospects in a more meaningful way; it would also allow them to tailor their pitch to ensure it moves prospects to buy.
Developing a buyer persona is the building of a fictional character based on real data about your best prospects and customers – such as demographics, behavior patterns, buying patterns, decision-making processes, and even life goals.
Research is necessary to gather the finer points and ensure your persona comes from a place of objectivity vs. opinion. Start by identifying a dozen ideal customers and a dozen ideal prospects likely to spend 15-20 minutes talking with you. If you’re in a heavy referral-based business, consider adding in a few influencers as well. While incentives may not be necessary, as consumers like to be heard, you may consider offering a gift card to thank them for their time. Call them to schedule a phone interview making it clear you’re not trying to sell them anything.
Ask questions such as: What is your title? Who do you report to, and who reports to you (requesting titles)? Tell me about a typical day. What’s the size of your company? Describe your personal demographics such as age, number of children, marital status, income range. What do you do outside of work? In what organizations are you a member? What’s challenging in your job/life? What do you value most at work? What are your common objections when approached by a vendor in our category?
In assessing the data, you’re looking for as many similarities as possible. Then, create a story line for that customer that will be easy for your salespeople to remember. For example, your primary buyer may be a family man with two kids and a golden retriever. He tries to work in a game of golf every few weeks, but it’s tough with all of the kids’ activities. He appreciates candor and hard work in those around him. He makes buying decisions first on trust and relationships, later comparing features, benefits and pricing. He has big career aspirations and so a solution that will allow him to advance his career will be given serious consideration.
While your customer persona may not fit every ideal customer to a “T,” it’s intended to represent the needs of the larger group of customers. Understanding a buyer’s motivations, expectations and goals can arm your team to more consistently deliver their “A game.”
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).