Getting B2B Buyer Personas Right: 9 Mistakes to Avoid
What does your ideal customer look like? It’s a simple question that every marketer should be able to answer without hesitation. But crafting your target customer personas is more challenging than it seems.
At the highest level, B2B marketers can answer this question by describing the types of companies that fall into their target markets. However, even in B2B contexts, the decision-makers are individual people. Although they act in the name of a company and account for its needs in the grand scheme, you still need to attract, interact with, and build trust and loyalty with people across the buyer journey.
In this case, defining an accurate buyer persona is a lot trickier than many think.
Identifying and Understanding B2B Customers Requires Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are profiles of the different types of customers you have. These profiles help marketing teams group real people and divide potential customers into different categories, allowing them to better understand who they are and what they’re interested in during the buying process. Here are some factors you need to account for when defining your buyer personas:
- Job title and level
- Role in the decision-making process (e.g., influencer vs. decision maker)
- Day-to-day responsibilities and pain points
- Professional and business goals
- Ideal solutions to be more effective at work
- Typical sources for staying informed, including specific publications and channels
- Demographic information, including educational attainment
Correctly identifying and understanding customers will bring significant benefits to your marketing strategy. Unfortunately, too many marketers miss out on benefits like these because of two potential pitfalls:
- They make mistakes when developing ideal buyer personas
- They don’t use buyer personas to their full advantage within their marketing strategies
Let’s see which are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when crafting such profiles and how to correct those. Avoiding these will help you boost your strategy and tailor a more accurate B2B buyer persona.
4 Mistakes to Avoid When Developing B2B Buyer Personas
Getting down the perfect buyer persona profile can be daunting, especially when figuring out where to start. But paying attention to these common mistakes will surely help in the process.
1. You Follow a B2C Buyer Persona Model
Buyer personas are not unique to the B2B world. But even though B2C marketers use buyer personas for similar reasons, the actual persona model is quite different when looking at B2B vs. B2C. For instance, B2C models rely on different sets of demographic data. For this reason, you want to avoid following a B2C buyer persona guide and focus on finding a B2B model that works for your company. By doing so, your company will be successful when developing marketing and sales strategies.
2. You Don’t Interview Current Customers
There’s a lot of research that goes into developing B2B buyer personas. While this data can tell a lot, it can’t tell the whole story. To truly understand who your customers are, you need to talk to them. Specifically, you should pick a handful of representative accounts from your current customer pool. Next, interview different contacts your company has within those accounts. During these conversations, ask questions that align with the different points of information in your personas, such as:
- What are your potential buyers’ pain points?
- What do you need to do your job better to create happy customers?
- Where do you turn to stay informed?
3. You Don’t Involve Your Sales Team in the Process
Discussing with your customers to get more insights into their needs and wishes is a big part of the process. But equally important is involving your sales teams. Regardless of your business profile and particularities, these conversations will add valuable insights you typically can’t get from another source.
Your sales team can close the loop by sharing details on the types of questions target buyers ask and their common objections to buying your product or service. Beyond having conversations about these factors with your sales team, it can also be helpful to listen in on a few sales calls to hear firsthand what’s happening when customers make a buying decision.
4. You Don’t Name Your Personas
Naming your B2B personas might seem silly, but it makes a big difference in helping you see your detailed personas as people and ensuring adoption. Giving your personas names helps everyone across the organization “speak the same language” and understand instantly who the buyer personas are and which contacts fit each persona.
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Putting B2B Buyer Personas to Work
Once you develop your buyer personas, you must put them to work. Once again, there are several mistakes that you need to be careful to avoid, including:
1. You Don’t Educate Your Marketing and Sales Teams
Even if you have the best buyer personas, they won’t do your business objectives any good if no one knows who they are and how to use them. So, it’s imperative to do a “getting to know you” session for your buyer personas to educate Marketing and Sales teams. During this session, you need to provide insights on who each of the personas is (including what they’re interested in, how to reach them, the best way to talk to them, and common objections they might raise).
2. You Don’t Segment Content and Campaigns Based on Persona
Once you define an accurate B2B buyer persona, you can move on to giving your marketing content and campaigns a more personal touch. Within your segmentation efforts, having a detailed buyer persona will tell you which content types and level of detail work best for each persona defined. Across the board, whether you’re developing new content or launching a campaign on any channel, you should always design the output with a specific persona in mind.
3. You Don’t Use Personas to Understand Gaps
Once you start segmenting content and campaigns based on persona, you can understand where the gaps exist.
Starting from buyer personas, you can analyze what content and derived campaigns are lacking within your current strategy. It will also allow you to enrich existing content with valuable insights and information for the defined personas.
4. You Don’t Use Personas Outside of Marketing and Sales
Although the initial focus for buyer personas is typically marketing and sales, these profiles can help everyone in your organization. For example, product teams can use personas to better understand areas for improvement to address customers’ pain points and eliminate common objections prospects have regarding your company. Customer service teams can also gain deeper insight into common customer complaints.
5. You Don’t Review and Update Your Personas Regularly
Your customers and their needs are dynamic, and so are your buyer personas. The nature of roles, including goals, pain points, sources of information, and everything else, evolve, and your personas need to evolve along with them. That being said, you need to regularly revisit your initial personas to ensure you keep them up to date. Make sure to include decision-makers within your marketing and sales departments in the review and update process for a deeper understanding of the evolution of your personas.
How often should you review and update these profiles? Once a year or any time you have a change of business strategy, a new line of products or services, or recognize external factors that will affect your customer base is a good starting point.
Using the Right Tools in the Process
The tools you use when you define buyer personas can be a game-changer. Dedicated CRM, Marketing, Sales, and Support automation software infused with a healthy dose of AI can accelerate the process by offering you a 360-degree view of your customers, their biggest pain points and recurring issues, the success of past and present marketing campaigns, and more.
Watch our on-demand webinar Artificial Intelligence: Technology’s Invisible Hand in Business and learn how to leverage automation, AI, and ML processes to define a more precise buyer persona.