How to handle multiple buyer personas

Technology has made consumer sales easier than ever. Customers can buy items online with one click. However, complex sales like B2B have only gotten more difficult. Buyers are more empowered than ever before because they can conduct independent research before ever reaching out to a sales representative. The majority of decision-makers rely on the Internet as the primary way to educate themselves on business products and services, and this has had the effect of lengthening the sales cycle. In addition, the number of stakeholders involved in the decision-making process has increased over time. In the past, sales employees had to present to executives, but it’s more common for mid-level workers and end users to be involved in the selection of new business software. Because of the changing nature of the B2B sales cycle, you need to account for multiple buyer personas. An integrated marketing platform can help your sales team accomplish this.

Buyers are more aware of their choices, and the increased access to information can make the prospect of closing deals more difficult for sales reps, according to a blog post for Salesforce written by Joe Galvin. Several years ago, decision-makers largely depended on sales collateral sent by representatives to educate themselves on different product offerings. These materials obviously had a promotional slant, which is one reason why buyers have sought out more objective content. However, the issue now is not all online content is reputable and sales professionals may be fighting bad information leads have found on the Web. This problem becomes amplified as more people get involved in the buying process.

How can you handle increased complexity in the sales cycle?

Sales reps at small B2B firms already have their hands full between generating and nurturing leads and trying to close deals. Having to contend with a longer sales cycle and more involvement from multiple stakeholders only makes it harder to win new business. One of the best ways to manage more than one decision-maker is to establish buyer personas. These are fictional identities you make for your target customers to gain a better sense of your real clients’ wants and needs, Taylon Chandler wrote for Bikini Marketing. Buyer personas allow you to create more relevant content for your target audience, providing better information and improving lead nurturing campaigns. Offering valuable content that speaks to buyers’ specific pain points helps your sales team cut through the noise of misinformation online.

Creating buyer personas can be a bit of work, but it ultimately pays off. You can conduct extensive research on your existing customers to determine the factors in their selection process and why they ultimately decided on your product. However, this is highly time-consuming for sales reps who are already under a lot of pressure. Another way to approach the creation of buyer personas is by outlining the characteristics of your ideal customers, Chandler suggested. Consider company size, location, job title, specific challenges and business goals. If you’re dealing with multiple stakeholders, you’ll need to create a persona for each person involved in the process, which is where the research comes in. However, it’s important to maintain differentiating characteristics between buyer personas otherwise it will be too difficult to directly target distinctive individuals within a company.

It still requires some research to do this effectively, but this model can also improve your lead scoring criteria because you can gain a better sense of how a prospect will fit with your organization. Lead scoring can help sales managers better assign tasks to their employees, enabling a more unified approach to ensure sales-ready leads don’t slip through the cracks.

Buyer personas require careful considerations

While it may seem simple to outline the criteria of your ideal customer, this process may turn out to be more challenging than you think. Even companies that utilize buyer personas can fail to attract the right target audience. There are a number of reasons why this can happen. If your firm staffs separate marketing and sales departments, both teams need to be involved to define buyer personas because they can each provide unique insights, according to an article for Buyer Persona written by Tony Zambito. Because marketers are the ones responsible for Internet lead generation, they may have a different perspective on qualities prospects display when they first express interest.

While your sales employees are most likely to eager to close deals, your content can’t be too focused on selling your brand, Zambito said. Buyers place more emphasis on objective content. Branded marketing materials can be effective later in the sales process when decision-makers have narrowed down the contenders to a few vendors. But early in the cycle, it’s important to focus on clients’ specific pain points rather than tout the benefits and capabilities of your solution.