When it comes to developing a strategic marketing plan or sales process, one of the first things we recommend any company to do is to get a clear and accurate understanding of their customers and prospects. What’s key here is that this profile (commonly called a Target or Buyer Persona) is based on research, not assumptions. Which means you’ll need to conduct some actual research (or hire a company like LeadG2 to do it for you). The most effective way of doing this is with a mix of online surveys and live interviews. The surveys allow for a large sampling size, while the interviews allow for a deeper dive and further understanding. You can dive a little deeper into what that target persona survey process might look like here, but for the sake of this article we’ll be focusing on what it is exactly that your Target Persona should tell you about your B2B prospects so that you can have better and smarter marketing, content, and sales conversations.
1. What over-arching trends in demographics and psychographics do you know about them?
While the bulk of your profiles should go much further beyond this (this isn’t to be confused with target audiences you might define for advertising needs), it’s wise to paint a picture of who this person is exactly. Even giving them a name and a photo to refer to helps ensure your team is thinking about your buyer as a PERSON, not just a prospect or company.
2. Why did they choose your business?
This is incredibly valuable information as we often have assumptions of what makes our business unique or positioned in a better light (i.e. “We’re family owned.” “We have great customer service.” “Our team members make all the difference.” Etc.) while our prospects and customers might have an entirely different reasoning. This is something you’d want to not force into a drop-down option, but also pair with specific insights and feedback.
3. Why did they choose your competitor?
In conjunction with why you win business, it’s smart to know why you lose it too. If you’re able to talk to those that did not choose you (or maybe customers who didn’t originally), then this is a great piece of information to have.
4. What needs, problems, or pain points did they originally had that started them down researching the solution you provide?
If we look at the Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey, we know that oftentimes the journey starts long before someone knows even what they are in search of. This is why, from a marketing-perspective, it’s invaluable to know what got them exploring possible solutions in the first place. What happened in their business or industry? What changed in their company? How did they find out this was a need or problem? And how long did they have it before looking for outside solutions?
5. What is their preferred sales process?
Do they like more time and space between calls or were they looking to move quickly (maybe even quicker than you did move)? Do they prefer a more hands-off, transactional sale or value a more consultative approach?
6. What kind of content do they consume and where?
This, of course, includes industry publications, blogs, and websites that they subscribe to for professional reasons (the more specific, the better) but it also includes their personal media preferences. Do they read a lot of eBooks or print? Do they love video on-the-go? Do they listen to podcasts and audiobooks regularly? Do they prefer visual quick-reads like infographics? Do they ever attend or watch webinars or online courses?
Let’s not forget about social media. Do they use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and so on?
The more you know, the more you can ensure you’re not wasting your time creating content that they’ll never engage with or marketing in places they’ll never be.
7. What does their B2B sales decision-making process look like?
It’s important to really drill down into the specific decision they made for your business. Who was involved and in what part of the sales process? How do they make these types of decisions – with a vote, is there one key decision maker, etc.? What are the job titles of those involved? Is there a specific process they have to go through internally to get approval on these kinds of decisions? Did testimonials, case studies, references, reviews, or referrals play any role in the final decision?
8. When initially researching solutions to their problem - what kinds of questions did they have related to this need?
These kinds of questions (that are more top-of-the-funnel) can help you uncover the kind of content you need to drive new traffic to your website and campaigns.
9. As they moved through the sales process with you – what other questions did they have that they either asked or researched on their own?
While these kinds of questions will help you determine different types of content that will help facilitate the sales process and help your salespeople build value, preemptively answer questions, and overcome objections effectively.
The bonus to surveying your best customers is that you can also throw in some questions that may not fall into your Target Persona Profile but will be valuable insights, this includes things like:
- Would they recommend your business?
- How many of your products/services/solutions do they buy from you?
We truly believe that every marketing strategy (no matter how simple or sophisticated it is) should start with identifying and building out your unique Target Persona Profiles. Most companies will have more than one, and while the process involves quite a few steps, it’s well worth the time and/or investment to develop this thorough understanding of your best customers, and ultimately best prospects, so that you can use it as a guiding light when making marketing and sales decisions.