Assembling detailed and insightful buyer personas is essential for essentially every business. Without buyer personas, you’ll have to rely on guesswork and assumptions. While you might get lucky, there’s a serious risk that you’ll miss out on opportunities and potential sales if you simply try to wing it.
Sometimes, marketers think that buyer personas are only important for consumers and aren’t particularly relevant for B2B customers. This is flat out wrong. They are just as important, if not more so, for B2B marketers. By assembling B2B personas, you’ll be able to develop an intricate understanding of your potential customers.
This, in turn, will allow you to craft accurate, effective marketing campaigns and put forward sales efforts that will reach your audience and produce conversions. However, finding and outlining your buyer persona is easier said than done.
In this article, we’ll go over how you can craft personas for B2B customers. But first, let’s go over what they are.
What Are Buyer Personas Anyways?
Buyer personas, or customer avatars as they are sometimes called, are fictional characters that are crafted to reflect your real-world customers. These avatars help you understand what your customer is thinking, where they get their information from, and what their wants and needs are. Additionally, buyer personas can help you identify factors that might influence purchasing decisions.
Here’s an example of one buyer persona worksheet:
As you can see, there are five sections. Before you can find your B2B avatars, you need to know what you’re looking for. Let’s briefly go over each one and why they are important.
Goals and Values: this section will help you understand what motivates your customers and how they think. In the case of B2B customers, potential goals might include “increasing sales” or “securing a promotion.” Values might refer to “conducting ethical business dealings” or “adding value to customers.”
Challenges & Paint Points: If you want to drum up sales, you need to address pain points and satisfy wants. With PayKickstart, many of our customers need a secure payment solution. They also need a shopping cart that is easy to use, will reduce abandonment rates, and will increase sales all while being affordable. Based on our internal customer avatars, we designed PayKickstart to meet all of the above challenges.
Sources of Information: One of the best things about customer avatars is how they force you to think about how customers find and consume information. Once you know how customers get their information, you can begin to devise ways to get information regarding your products in front of them.
Objections: These are the reasons a potential customer might reject your product or service. For example, if your product requires a lot of training to use, and this avatar is the person who will be doing the training, he or she might select a different product that is easier for people to pick up.
Roles: In the above worksheet, roles are lumped in with objections. However, when it comes to B2B customers, roles are so important that you may want to break them out separately in their own box. Every employee will have a role. Sometimes the person who discovers your product won’t be the final decision maker. Or maybe there isn’t a final decision maker, but instead a committee. Understanding each person’s role in the decision-making process is vital.
You’ll also notice that the customer avatar above includes a lot of demographic information. This info is likewise important to gather. Understanding someone’s income and education, among other things, can help you develop an effective pitch.
So How About Finding B2B Buyer Personas?
Got the customer avatars basics down? Good, now it’s time to jump into the specifics of discovering, developing, and using these avatars specifically for B2B customers. Unfortunately, the B2B purchasing cycle is often long and arduous. First, multiple people are frequently involved. Second, due diligence is a must as careers and company fortunes could be on the line.
In a 2018 study, over 60 percent of B2B customers reported that the purchase cycle had increased. Why? 45 percent reported spending more time on research, while 45 percent cited a desire to see more sources of information. Numerous other limiting factors were also cited. The key takeaway? People are doing their homework and making sure that they’re making the right purchase.
Start With Demographic Information
You can start to develop your personas by considering basic demographic information. For example, the CEO of a company is likely to be older and more well-educated. He or she will have a high-income as well. On the other hand, a junior project manager is going to be much younger, and perhaps less educated. Certainly, he or she will be earning a lot less.
You can often find this demographic information online with Google. Simply type in “average age for CEO”. You’ll find out that it’s 50 years. The average salary for a junior project manager? Roughly $51,000.
Discovering “Who” Will Be Making the Decisions
After you get the demographics down, you can consider roles during the decision making process. It might be tempting to assume that the CEO is the final decision maker in every case. However, executives may delegate such decisions. A junior project manager could ultimately have a greater say than the CEO.
Finding out who regularly makes decisions during the buying process can be difficult, but it’s essential. If you have any staff who have been on the other side of the B2B buying process, ask them to provide insights.
No staff available? No worries. Another great option everyone should consider is interviewing some of their current customers. You can ask them:
- When buying products or services like ours, how many people are involved?
- Who is the highest ranking person when it comes to making a decision?
- Who has the final decision?
- Who conducts the preliminary research?
- Which members of the team will hands-on evaluate the product?
Once you figure out “who” you can go back to developing the customer avatars. This is easier said than done but through interviews, you can find answers.
Don’t have any customers to interview yet? See if you can find or develop a hypothetical org chart for the company in question. Include everyone who you think might have a role in the purchasing process. An intern, for example, might not have much say in the actual decision-making process but could play a big role in the research stage.
Conclusion: B2B Customer Avatars Are Vital
There’s no avoiding them. 71 percent of companies who meet or exceed their goals have detailed customer avatars. Only 26 percent of companies that miss their goals, on the other hand, have them. B2B buyer personas will help you understand your customers and how you can appeal to them. Yes, they can be difficult to find and develop but they are all but a must for competitive companies.
Mark Thompson is the co-founder of PayKickstart.com – a SaaS that is reinventing the modern-day shopping cart and affiliate management, helping thousands of businesses and Entrepreneurs sell more, maximize customer lifetime value and automate subscription commerce.
Mark has spent over a decade in the world of marketing and software, selling over $20+ million of his flagship training programs and software.