If you’re not sure who you are selling to, then why are you selling to them? In order to really engage potential buyers for meaningful sales conversations, your sales team must first clearly establish a buyer persona.
You might have an idea of the overall market to which you’re targeting, but there’s an important saying from Business Network International that really applies in this case:
‘Specific is terrific!’
A bit cheesy? Definitely. But you’ll never forget it (Believe me, I’ve tried).
Where that saying comes into prospecting and social selling is in the development of what is termed “buyer personas.”
What is a buyer persona?
It is a hypothetical profile of your ideal prospect. In the simplest terms, your ideal prospect means those buyers that are most likely to buy from you. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, as well as assumptions about their pain points and motivations when buying your product.
You may already have a sense about the profile of your usual customers. You know their average age, income range and education levels. From here, you can delve even more deeply into their interests, wants and needs and concerns. What are their attitudes and motivations? How do they talk and express themselves? What current events or trends are hot topics for them?
Creating your framework for persona-based selling starts by enabling your sales development team with the buyer knowledge and data needed to field questions like experts. Sales development leader and writer, Ralph Barsi, says it begins with onboarding. 20% of sales training time should be spent focusing on your company (history, product, core values, etc.) and 80% of the time focused on your prospects.
Your business exists solely to serve your buyers — to truly understand their needs, pains, and businesses — and what better way to show true empathy than focusing the majority of your sales development team’s attention on them?
Why is a buyer persona important?
These personas help you relate to your potential customers as real human beings, and guides both content creation, distribution and social selling.
This research is the first stage in creating your social selling strategy. Once you have an ideal customer profile in mind, your teams can then start creating content with a clear idea of what will interest and resonate with the buyer.
When buyer personas are used effectively, prospects feel as though you are speaking to them directly. It’s as if you intuitively know their needs and business problems and are speaking their language. And in a sense, you do. When you’re focused on persona-based selling, it’s your messaging that converts. Personalized and intentional messaging is the key to success when it comes to connecting and converting these well-defined buyer personas.
Frontline sellers have learned the hard way that over-automated or over-generalized emails suck, and under-researched cold calls can be excruciatingly painful (both for the seller and the buyer). But this is not news to anyone. Instead of delivering the same plain-vanilla message to all prospects, you should research prospects as individuals and address them more genuinely and creatively.
How do I create a buyer persona?
To find your demographics, you could conduct interviews or surveys. Find out what buyers main concerns are or objectives they had during the sales process.
You can also gather insightful information through monitoring buyer conversations on social media. Tune in to their challenges as well as what they value. Gain insights about what influences their decision to buy a product or service. Get a feel for what kind of graphic design and font styles they prefer. All of this information can be built into their buyer persona profile and help you market to them very effectively.
Save quotes from these conversations to post on your completed buyer persona profile. These will help your team really internalize their ideal customer.
One way to start could be by selecting three or four specific types of clients with which you would like to do more business, and make them the primary focus of your research. This could be done by industry, geographic location, etc. Then look up a couple of LinkedIn Company Pages for those companies. Also look up individual Profiles to add more specifics to your buyer persona.
While scanning through these pages, take note of the following characteristics to create your buyer personas:
The company page:
- Industry type
- Location headquarters
- Company type (Public or Private)
- Employee size
- Related and people also viewed companies on the bottom right of the company page (these will often be ideal prospects for you).
Profiles of individuals:
- Their previous employers
- What school they went to
- Online groups they are part of
- Keywords in their summary and skills sections
- How many years of experience they have
- Shared connections (often the people that know them will know others like them, and since they are already your first degree connection, they may be a good referral source).
Once you have your persona mapped, create a physical representation of that persona, including an image and all of the characteristics you picked up from your interviews/surveys with buyers, online conversations and your sales team.
Post these up in your sales room. Invite your sales reps to add onto these profiles with sticky notes, a white board, or another predefined process. Do they keep getting the same questions over and over again? Are customers using your product in a way that indicates they valued something different when they were still shopping?
All of these answers will help your content creators better target these personas.
Using automated lead generation tools will help sales teams efficiently target these ideal buyers. For example, Connectors Marketplace provides a prospecting tool which allows sales people to filter leads by using bio keywords and location, and easily segment and list management for sales campaign execution. This way, it’s easier to connect with the most relevant and influential people to begin social selling.
Sales teams need to understand and remember that personalization is taking the sales development industry by storm, and what better way to target the right people in your sales efforts than through the right messaging for your buyer personas? Persona-based selling is doing just that: hyper-focusing on personas — the individual people, personalities, and segments — in order to dive deeper into the needs of your potential customers.
I’m not here to tell you what’s new — I’m here to tell you what works. And integrating personalization, sincerity and professionalism into the sales process is one of the main keys to success in sales development.