What's Wrong With Your Buyer Personas

Laurie Page
Laurie Page




I’ve worked with several organizations whose marketing teams create incredibly creative and insightful buyer personas. And then once these personas are finished …

They sit on a shelf. Salespeople are told to go read them, and perhaps they do, but they don’t incorporate the information into their day-to-day.

Why? I see two reasons. First, salespeople often aren’t educated on what’s in it for them. Second, buyer personas often lack details that would make it easier for reps to apply the information.

These content-based tools are usually created in Marketing, but if they’re not used by Sales, their value plummets. Here’s how I think companies can more effectively craft their buyer personas for a sales audience.

Fill In the Missing Details

It’s great to know the common problems and professional goals of your target buyer. But salespeople have less than 20 seconds to engage their prospects in conversation. What’s the value of a persona if reps can’t use them to spark interest from the start?

With this in mind, those creating personas should think: How can this be leveraged over the phone and in email? For instance, what specific vocabulary would engage one type of prospect vs. another? What type of outreach does this target buyer prefer, and what should that messaging sound like? Break down the theoretical into the tactical for better retention.

Marketing should err on the side of the specific. Generally, the more specific the buyer persona, the better (as long as the content is accurate). For example, don’t just write that a certain persona cares about “cost reduction.” After all, who doesn’t? Strive to get as specific as possible about objectives. Why do they care about cost reduction? In what way? As concerning what? How much influence does one type of prospect possess and how do they interact with others in their company? This extra information will help salespeople connect with prospects more quickly and easily.

In addition, most buyer personas cover the corporate concerns of the prospect. But what about their individual goals, opinions, and problems? It’s important to understand both because one may outweigh the other. A buyer persona without a personal aspect is incomplete.

Lastly, buying personas usually cover reasons a target prospect would buy and what problems they experience that the company’s product or service would solve. But what isn’t usually included is the other side of the coin -- the reasons they don’t buy. This insight of why a prospect might opt to stick with the status quo can help Sales better combat objections and prevent no-decisions.

Provide Better Training

Too often, companies simply hand buyer personas to salespeople with no training at all -- “we’ve posted it on our intranet for you to read at your convenience.” But in order for the information to stick, both Sales and Marketing need to more actively train reps on the what and why behind the data.

It could be as simple as explaining to reps what questions were asked to come up with these profiles, and what some of the most common reactions were. Learning the process behind how the personas were created deepens reps’ understanding of the information they contain.

This point is particularly pertinent when personas are updated or new ones are rolled out. Maybe a market shift or major competitive move prompted a persona makeover. Connecting and explaining the events that drive changes in personas gives reps additional insight to bring to their conversations.

Everyone knows that your sales messaging needs to resonate with your buyer. But don’t forget that in order for buyers to connect with your message, salespeople need to internalize that message first. When creating buyer personas, make the information as actionable and digestible for salespeople as possible.


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