The results of a recent study by Demandbase revealed that in nearly 79% of the B2B purchases, 1 to 6 people are involved.
The study also showed that in last year, 45% of the B2B buyers spend more time on research and nearly the same percentage (45%) used multiple sources to research as compared to the previous year’s statistics.
So, what do these stats tell you about the ever-evolving B2B buyers? It clearly shows that winning your B2B buyers has become more difficult than ever.
However, if you have the right plan and strategies in place, you will undoubtedly attract them and effectively move them to the bottom of your sales funnel. One of the most effective approach to do so is to know your customers beyond demographics – by identifing your B2B buyer personas.
Before we discuss in detail different strategies for discovering your ideal B2B buyer-personas, let us first try to shed some light on the importance of buyer personas for your business.
Why are Buyer Personas so crucial for your B2B Business?
Buyer personas or customer personas are nothing more than a semi-fictional description of your B2B customers that includes information about their demographics, psychographics, motivations, behaviour, lifestyle, challenges, and a whole lot more.
So, why do you need to know who your ideal B2B buyers are and why should you care so much about them?
You need all this information about your B2B buyers to help you understand them better, so you are able to create highly customised offerings and tailored communications for them quickly.
In a recent survey, nearly 72% of the B2B buyers replied that they expect their vendors to come up with and use personalised engagement tailored to their specific needs. Similarly, more than 84% of B2B customers said that they like being treated as people rather than numbers – the key to business success in the ever-evolving digital world.
Now that you understand the importance of defining your audience personas, let us take a look at some simple steps to determine your typical B2B buyer personas:
Step No.1: Know Different Things about Your Buyer
To craft meaningful B2B buyer persona, you will need to learn quite a few things about your potential buyers. Here are some essential characteristics of your target audience that you need to learn:
Spend a few minutes going through the LinkedIn profiles of your prospective buyers and try to find out details such as professional background, job title, skills, team structure, and education.
Other relevant information that you need to check is whether they are individual contributors or managers with people reporting into them. You might have to do this exercise for all the people across different levels (including influencers and decision-makers) that play a decisive role in a typical purchase.
This information will help you come up with targeted sales and customized communication strategy and provide your buyers with a better experience. For example, for someone who is at a managerial post, you might have to develop a less detailed plan as compared to someone who is at an introductory level.
Include the following when gathering demographic details about your potential B2B buyers:
- marital status
In case you are targeting organisations, you will need to find out some necessary details about them, such as the industry they belong to, their size and structure.
In addition to this, you may have to look at the kind of products or services they offer to their customers. This way you will be able to customise your marketing and sales strategies better and channel your communication in a way that makes a significant impact on their businesses.
[bctt tweet=”Understanding clientele and challenges is very helpful while developing a rock-star B2B buyer persona.” username=”relevance”]
You need all these firmographic details about your B2B buyers to give them more personalised experiences and offerings.
Pain Points (Challenges)
Once you have identified all the relevant players involved in a B2B purchase, you need to understand their challenges or pain points. A good understanding of their pain points will help you offer your prospective customers, specific products or solutions that can take care of these challenges. Keep in mind; these are not organisational-level challenges; rather they are challenges faced by individuals in an organisation.
Say, for example, you offer CRM solutions to organisations of various sizes and industry. Now, try to figure out how your CRM solutions might help the organisation deal with different challenges? Your CRM solution may help the organisation easily track goals and performances of individual employees, streamline their sales process, and increase employee productivity.
Now, compare how your product might help solve different challenges at the individual level. A sales team leader might be facing challenges in capturing leads, tracking individual performances and following up on sales leads.
You, therefore need first to identify the challenges faced by each stakeholder in an organisation and then come up with a tailored communication strategy, this will help you make your sales process more effective.
Goals and Motivation
Try to get a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in an organisation. Once you know what exactly their goals are, you can design your products/services/solutions accordingly that can help them achieve these individual goals easily. In addition to this, you also need to find out what drives these people.
A Look into Their Daily Life
A glance into a typical day in the lives of your prospective buyers can also give you some handy information. Try to find out if they use social media, how frequently and which platforms do they prefer.
You also need to find out at what time they are most active at work and whether they are part of any professional organisation or not? Find out what kind of content they consume and what is the source of that information?
Finding answers to the above simple questions will help you not only choose the right mediums to reach out to them, but these answers will also help you figure out the best times to contact them or send relevant marketing messages.
Finding out how success is measured in their individual-role is the most critical piece of information you need to gather about your prospective B2B buyers. For this purpose, you first need to define the metrics on which they are actually measured in their organisation. Knowing the success factors will help you come up with a solid plan to make your prospectus look good in their organisation.
Barriers to Purchase
Finding of how the typical purchase process in an organisation works, how many levels of approval are required, and who is the final approval authority is also very important in finding out who to contact and how influential they are?
In addition to this, you also need to know how much budget they can spend and how urgent their requirement is. You also need to know about other decision-makers in the organisation and what their perceptions are about the need for the solutions you are offering. Having a good understanding of the kind of barriers-to-purchase in the organisation will help you come up with ways to overcome them.
You also need to know in detail about the shopping preferences of your prospective B2B buyers. Find out:
- Do they prefer over-the-phone conversations or personal meetings?
- How much time can they spare to attend these sales meetings?
- Do they prefer consultative selling or they make decisions based on the various features of your solutions?
Once you get all this information, you need to come up with a solution that aligns with their expectations.
The Purchase Process
Try to find out what a typical purchase process looks like in the company, to do so look for answers to the following questions.”
- How does your prospective B2B buyer learn about a product?
- What does he/she consider before making a purchase?
- What steps do they take to evaluate the product?
- How do they arrive at the final decision?
Answers to these questions will help you not only create most-relevant marketing collaterals that appeal to the needs of your prospective B2B buyers, but they also help you overcome the most common objections you might face down the road.
Step No. 2: Collect Information from All Available Resources
You may not be able to get answers to all the above questions from a single source, so instead of limiting your options, use a variety of different sources to collect them.
For example, to uncover trends in the way your prospective B2B customers consume content, you can quickly analyse the information you have already gathered. You can always contact your sales teams for additional information about your customers and prospects. Compare this information with the one you have analysed to see if you can come up with any generalisations about their interests, habits, and preferences.
Lead capture forms are also useful tools for collecting information from your prospects. You can use these forms to obtain information like company size, location, job title, and industry. Last, but one of the most important steps is to interview (either over the phone or in-person) your customers and prospects.
When you interview your customers, make sure to include both; the ones with positive feedbacks about your solutions, and the ones with negative feedbacks. Interviewing your customers that have negative feedbacks will help you identify and address issues that your products are unable to resolve.
Another way of improving your offerings is to ask for feedback from your customers. Don’t feel shy, as most customers appreciate being asked for their feedback, it makes them feel more obliged and valued, so leverage this tactic wisely to know more about your customers.
Besides interviewing your customers, you also need to talk to some of your prospects. You can get contact information about your potential customers through your lead forms. There are some simple things you need to do correctly to make them agree for an interview. Simple gift cards often do the trick. You can use such incentives to encourage your prospects to participate in these interviews.
While interviewing with your prospects, do not make them feel as if it is a sales call, instead try to format your questionnaire in a way that makes you look like you are conducting some research and want to learn more about the jobs, challenges, and lives of your prospects.
Always be polite and considerate while conducting these interviews. Choose a time for the discussion that is most convenient for your customers or prospects. Remind them about the conversation well in advance and once done with the meeting, make sure to send them calendar invites.
As far as the question, “how many people should I interview” goes, well, it depends on you. Once you start noticing some patterns and trends, and you reach a stage where you can accurately predict the answers of your prospects in response to particular questions, you will realise that you have gathered enough information.
Step No. 3: Data Compilation
Once you are done collecting all this information, it is time to compile it and give it some meaning. You need to start sorting the gathered information into various categories, such as shopping preferences, goals, challenges, demographics, and firmographics. Based on these categories, you can easily create your B2B buyer’s personas.
Step No.4: Use Different Tools to Bring These Personas to Life
Once you have created your B2B buyers’ personas using the data gathered and compiled, it is time to bring these personas to life. You can give names and build stories around each of your buyers’ personas. The online world is full of handy tools that can help you create your B2B buyers’ personas in a matter of minutes. Once created, you can use them personally or distribute them among your sales or marketing teams. Following is a list of some handy online tools you can use to generate your buyer personas:
Smaply is another handy and useful online personal generator tool that uses functional drag-and-drop feature. You can use this feature to customise various fields in your buyer persona template. Extra features such as adding photos, adding links to your persona templates, highlighting significant portions of text/data are also offered in this online tool. You can also export your customised buyer personas in PDF or ppt formats.
HubSpot Make My Persona is a user-friendly and quite intuitive online tool. Once you are done choosing a name and avatar for your persona, this online app will guide you through a series of pre-defined questionnaires to complete your persona. You can use the dropdown list to select a pre-defined answer to a question or type in your response.
Up Close & Persona is yet another handy and useful tool for creating your buyer persona. This online app also starts by asking questions about the age, gender, sex, race, and marital status of your buyer persona followed by their job title, company name, size, and structure. Although most of the questions asked here are the same as used in the previous app, the main difference between these two apps is that instead of the dropdown list, you can only type out your answers in this app.
One important thing that you need to keep in mind is that these B2B buyer personas that you have created are not final and can change with the changing interests, challenges, preferences, and needs of your prospective customers.
To stay ahead of the game, you need to make sure to keep in constant touch with your customers and prospects and record their changing needs, preferences, and interests from time to time. Similarly, keep yourself abreast with the latest industry news; this will help you keep your B2B buyer personas relevant.