Most mature companies know who their ideal customers are. They know what messaging resonates with each type of company. It’s great if you're one of them. However, you’re done here forever.
Your product, the market, and your customers constantly evolve, and you need to react. Things like recession, political situation, and a global pandemic can hugely influence your customer portfolio.
The fact that you knew your customers. for example, in the
PRE-COVID19 times, doesn’t mean they’re still the same. You might have lost some, but also, ideally - you might have some new audience there.
If you want your sales department to keep selling, you’ll need to dig into your ideal customer and ideal personas now and then. You might discover some upsell possibilities or brand new opportunities to win.
Do the maximum to understand how people think and act now. Each of us is unique, but we share some features or behavioral patterns. If you can identify, read and act on them, your and your team can work smart.
Each bigger new feature of your product or a significant change on the market has the potential to attract new customers. Don’t miss out! Give yourself (and your team) enough time to focus on who could enlarge your customer base.
The point of having a persona/s is to discover common traits, goals, experiences, etc., among people, put them in clusters, and target them with the same messaging.
Note that no two people will ever fit one persona in 100%. Collect customers’ data and learn from them. The more data you have, the more specific the outcome will be.
can target them better, with the right sales pitch and messaging
will be answer questions, anticipate objections, and sell faster
won’t waste time on the wrong potential customers
focus on developing the right new features or services
help your team understand why, how, and who they are helping solve their need
Remember, not everyone is your customer, and that is fine. You can’t make everyone happy, so you also shouldn’t talk to everyone. Therefore, iterate regularly, and invest your energy in those who are likely to become your customers.
It doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about an ideal customer (in B2B, a company) or an ideal persona (a specific person in the company).
you’re able to fulfill their needs with your product, and at the same time, they help achieve your business goals
they keep returning for more, every year renew their subscription, or seek further services
they understand your product’s value and recommend you to others
the cooperation is smooth, and they are pleasant to deal with
Empathy. It’s an essential skill of every rockstar sales representative. If you think you, or your team, doesn’t have it, we have good news for you! Sales empathy is a skill, and just like any other, it can be learned and further developed.
Empathy helps you read your potential customers. If you have it, you can predict the prospect’s questions and objections and answer correctly. You can also set yourself in a proper behavior mode so that the prospect responds well to you.
Sales representatives should find their functional empathy level, meaning they’re not too firm (cold and distant) but also not too soft (vulnerable and overly invested). Balanced empathy ensures a frictionless sales process because you understand you’re connected to your clients. You understand their point of view, you know where they’re coming from, and you’ll more likely meet on terms.
If you’re feeling the connection and familiarity in a progressing deal, you’re empathically invested, and you’re doing it well. Sales empathy matters and will help you with relationship-based sales. It bridges gaps that are very likely to occur, for example, when a sales representative sells to a C-level person.
Your solution will probably have several potential personas. Start with the most relevant ones. Selling an HR tool, your persona is the HR director or HR manager (depending on your prospecting approach type - about that, later in this article). If you’re selling a security tool, your persona could be the CTO or Security Manager, etc. These are the people benefiting from your solution the most, and therefore, will have the biggest motivation to introduce it further in their company.
Creating personas is no exact science. Basically, it’s hypothetical stories combined with real data (past data + research data). There’s general and individual information enriched by an outline of experiences, objectives, and challenges with every persona.
Go through their industry and its history, and the role of your persona and its recent development.
Check what were and are the topics they discuss and how they were changing and influenced by significant events.
To understand the context, dig into several last years. Google, Harvard Business Review, or any big news site could be your source of information (CNN, BBC, etc.)
Linkedin is a great source here - pick at least five profiles you’d love to sell to, or take 5 of your best customers and look them up there, too.
Collect information about their education and the perseverance in their role and the industry. Find out how they get where they’re now.
You can find topics they’re interested in in the section “Activity”, where you see what they post or comment on.
DISCOVER OBJECTIVES AND CHALLENGES
Think about what your persona is passionate about. What keeps them going? What haunts them? What problems do they solve? What is important about their job?
You can easily google responsibilities online. Check job descriptions in job posts.
CREATE THEIR DECISION MAKING PROCESS
Who controls the budget? Who do they meet/report to? Where do they get their approvals? Where can they find answers to their questions?
MAP THEIR DAY
First of all, give them names. Think about what they do in their work and free time - after they wake up until they go to sleep.
What kind of lifestyle do they have? How do they educate themselves? What is the first thing they do after they come to work? What are their top priorities at work? How do they stay organized? What’s in their future? How do they reach their goals?
TIP: Sit down with your team and write everything down. You can try making a persona out of yourself first; then, it’ll be easier to create one for a stranger. Create customer personas only for those with at least some decision-making powers, or it’s a waste of time.
You’re most probably in love with your product or service and see the world revolving around it, but the potential customers probably won’t (at least not immediately).
They might not be familiar with your brand or even acknowledge that they have the problem your solution can fix. The topic just might not be a priority.
The problem you solve doesn’t have to be the biggest pain they need to solve - If your solution is not the hottest topic, do not try to change this by creating urgency. Instead, discover all their problems and needs and adjust your pitch accordingly to meet their reality.
You’ll need more than “your champion” to succeedIn bigger organizations, you’ll need to talk to multiple people, not just your champion. Find out and adjust to how your persona interacts with other departments and superiors. How easy is it for them to get money from the budget?
You’re selling to multiple personas simultaneously - In the beginning, you’ll probably focus on the most common persona, but you’ll need to master more. Therefore refresh your primary persona every 6-9 months. Don’t do it from scratch but check whether their habits, work setup, challenges, and priorities have changed in any way. Every time you do a refresh, create another persona you encounter a lot. You’ll see it get easier and faster every time.
Based on what you have found or created, pick messaging that will most probably resonate with them. Make it rather short to get more exact measuring results.
Predict reactions - connect empathically to the persona you created and write down what you think will happen when they hear your messaging.
Put it to the test - Observe the actual reactions. Do you see some repeating a lot? Then it’s your “trend” to play with. Repeat testing and iterate constantly. You don’t need to go to hundreds of contacts - 20 - 30 contacts will do. If the outcoming data shows some messaging is working, do it more. If they show that something is not working, stop doing it.
There are two main types of persona approaches. You can go:
Approaching non-executives, specialists, user-buyers, etc., to gather information to be later presented to the C-Level. Here is where you build up the use case. If user-buyers fall in love with your product, they can help you push it further in the company.
Approaching C-Level executives. They have the powers to decide but will probably refer you down to the user-buyers. It’s great to connect with the decision-maker, and user-buyers are more likely to engage with you since you were referred to them by their superior.
Both approaches are effective. You can do them simultaneously, in the same company. Remember that each group will need to hear a different messaging. Show them individually how they can benefit from your solution.
If you already have a solid customer base, you can invite them over and have them talk about your solution. Focus groups give great insight into your product and your messaging. The added plus is strengthening your relationship with existing customers.
Focus groups are quick, inexpensive, and effective in data collection.
Invite some of your best customers for a half day. Offer food, coffee, and small presents. Share issues you’re dealing with, give them minutes to think about it and discuss feedback. Let them speak individually but also support a discussion.
Let them come up with ideas. Write them all down. See where you can get better.
We can assure you that the first persona will be far from perfect. It’ll need a lot of editing, but with some feedback, you’ll get to a satisfying version. Anyway, we are all unique, so a perfect version of a persona will never exist.
Just like your product, your (potential) customers change. Therefore, refresh your personas every 6-9 months.
When refreshing it, create a fictional story but insert all read data you have. Use a lot of empathy to get yourself in the shoes of your customer. Don’t forget to write everything down, so it can be measured.
Attention to detail, sales skills,customer-centered, and empathy will soon turn these steps into selling.
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