For B2B marketers and sales professionals, employing buyer personas can yield benefits across all areas of performance. Surveys indicate effective use of buyer personas results in higher conversion rates and better quality leads; additionally, 82% of organizations noted buyer personas help them improve the messaging of their value proposition.
The more detail that is included in a buyer persona, the more helpful it is going to be for quickly identifying leads or crafting value-added marketing messaging for specific types of customers.
Building detail into your buyer profiles takes persistence, but there are several logical strategies that will enable you to gather and assess the data you need to be as thorough as possible.
Scour social media profiles
Tangential to your company website are the various social media platforms. Many potential customers will have a significant amount of information available to the public across social media sites, especially on LinkedIn, where they are eager to share details for networking purposes.
You can use these details to stock your profiles with data points from actual people who have reached out to your company or purchased from you already. Large samples of generalized, representational data are helpful for forging your personas as well, but it never hurts to supplement this with data points connected to actual people. There’s more public information available about people now than at any time in history, so make sure you have a plan for putting it to use.
Include observations from sales reps
In some organizations, buyer personas are created behind closed doors and handed down to marketing and sales reps once they have been refined. Ideally, however, front-line sales reps shouldn’t be on the sideline when these profiles are being developed, because they have unique perspectives that can help you add color.
Work with your sales reps by reviewing their notes from client interactions, and listen back to recordings of sales calls with them. There may even be certain mannerisms, behavioral patterns, or anecdotes that come up during the process of a sales call that are not easily translated into a data point, but still give you important insights into what your buyers value.
Interview a diverse group of subjects
If you expect to develop a full-fledged series of personas, you’re going to have to conduct live customer interviews. Many marketing and sales leaders fear this approach, because they are afraid of alienating contacts in the company’s network. But as long as you are honest about your intentions and don’t disrespect their time, you’ll generally find people are open to the experience; most of us enjoy any opportunity to talk about ourselves, after all.
The key is to reach out to various groups so you have a variety of inputs contributing to your data. This includes categories such as: existing customers who are ecstatic about their experience, previous customers who felt something lacked in their experience, current prospects, referrals, and so on. If you limit yourself to similar sources, your buyer personas may ultimately not reflect the range of potential customer needs.
Train your sales team on maintaining data quality
If there’s one thing everyone involved in the process needs to remember, it’s that personas are a reflection of a series of data inputs. According to a 2015 study of B2B organizations by Dun & Bradstreet, the average company scored a 2.9 out of 5 in the category of record completeness, so there is clearly work to be done on this front.
If your data inputs are compromised, outdated, or incomplete, don’t be surprised if your personas are similarly ineffective. Data integrity is everyone’s responsibility, from engineers who ensure landing pages work properly, to sales reps who enter information from their calls into CRM systems. When every relevant party understands they can’t slack on data management, it enables you to create buyer personas that are targeted, specific, and accurate.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.