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Make it personal: how buyer personas help with complex sales

Jan 30, 2024 | ABM, Insights, IT industry, Marketing

Buyer personas are key to an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. They help you focus on the pain points your targets are experiencing and give you more power to develop target accounts. Done right, personas can help you maximize your ABM efforts.

Buyer personas are designed to help you understand your customers and prospects better. The exercise makes it easier to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to your targets’ specific needs and behaviours. The more you understand, the more you’re likely to be an engaging interaction for your target customers, with the knock-on effect that they will be more persuaded to buy from you.

The complex sales/persona situation

Buyer personas are usually fictional, generalized characters you create that encompass your real and prospective customers’ varied needs, goals, and behaviour patterns. In B2C, they work very well, but they tend to be more complicated in B2B marketing, where sales processes are more complex.

In complex sales, you usually try to sell into multiple market segments with varying ideal customer profiles (ICPs). You’ll encounter multiple stakeholders, including champions, influencers, and decision-makers.

Across verticals, research has found that the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision-makers‚ each with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently. Not to mention the role of your strongest advocate – the champion – often varies from company to company.

It all adds up to a more complicated situation to deal with than in B2C. Personas can be really useful whether you’re marketing one-to-one, one-to-few, or one-to-many. But they’re typically quite generic, so it helps to know as much as possible about the specific company you’re targeting and the most worthwhile influencers and/or decision-makers there.

Building valuable buyer personas

In complex B2B sales, you’re likely encountering people of various job titles at your target customers and trying to profile them to your advantage. They could be marketers, IT managers, HR managers and so on. And they have different motivations for being interested in your company’s products and services.

When you start building buyer personas, you should establish who in your organization has the appropriate knowledge to bring something to the mix. In our experience, that can mean anyone in your company who is customer-facing, as they’ll likely have something worthwhile to add, but at the bare minimum, you want at least one representative from each department.

Persona development should comprise people from your sales and marketing departments and a senior executive to keep the project on track and aligned with your organization’s brand values and overall business goals.

Your senior exec lead should also ensure that when you’ve developed buyer personas, you review and update them regularly – as mentioned previously, successful ABM requires continuously improving and ongoing engagement and conversation with your customers and prospects.

How to create effective buyer personas

It takes a mix of the right data sources to get your personas right and make them practical tools that can power your ABM. Personas should be built using research, surveys, interviews, and more with a mix of customers, prospects, and other information sources that align well with your target audience. Some recommendations:

  1. Examine your existing contacts database to look for trends or patterns on customers and prospects and how they consume your content or engage with you
  2. Make sure you get the forms on your website right, and the fields you use and data you ask for align with your persona development goals
  3. Get your sales team involved – ensure you get your sales team’s feedback about leads or prospects they’re interacting with most and how they are engaging with them. Your salespeople could have useful information that customers/prospects haven’t entered into forms or given you online
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers and prospects what it is they like about your company, products or services

These actions will give you a good basis for creating personas. From this data, you should be able to identify patterns and common factors that give you a decent buyer persona or multiple valuable buyer personas.

It’s worth spending the time to do your buyer personas properly. According to ITSMA, 24% of companies that use effective personas acquire more leads, 56% say they improve the quality of their leads, and 36% say they reduce sales cycles. When you’re engaging in complex B2B sales activities, buyer personas can give you the edge you need.

Is your ABM campaign not yielding the expected results? Executed correctly, ABM can be an effective tool in the B2B marketer’s toolbox, but it can also be costly and underwhelming if you don’t take the right approach. Creating correctly targeted content is the key to success.

Download our guide to demystifying ABM to find out how to:

  • Research and select the best targets for your ABM campaign
  • Develop buyer personas that are interested in your products and services
  • Create targeted messages that resonate with your audience
  • Build the content mix that keeps your readers engaged

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