Customer engagement is a key performance indicator. It’s something today’s most successful companies understand. It’s also why these companies are now so hot on hyper personalization, agility and speed in their interactions with their target markets. Right across the sales cycle, deep customer knowledge is crucial. And doubly so for triggering the buying act. For Marketing and Sales departments, meeting this challenge is a burning priority if they’re to improve conversion rates. It’s why truly understanding the characteristics of your typical potential buyer – or buyer persona – is now fundamental for sales development.
1. So how do you create your buyer persona profile?
Your sales cycle, acquisition and customer engagement strategy and the messages you create are inextricably linked to your buyer persona. It’s the most effective route to achieving your specific company targets.
So that means it’s time to put an end to generic promotional messages. To get your message spot-on (length, content, tone, best times to contact etc), there are some fundamental questions you now need to ask about your target customer:
- Role: What’s his position? What does his work involve? What are his work hours? Where does he sit in the organizational chart?
- Company: What’s the sector? What’s at the heart of the business? What’s its size? Where’s it located? What’s the company culture like? Is it risk-taking or risk-averse? Is there a spirit of growth or innovation? Or it is driven by the need reduce costs?
- Goals: What’s your target responsible for? What’s his mission statement – his overriding goal? What does it mean to ‘nail it’ in his role?
- Challenges: What’s he trying to achieve? What makes his role stressful? What influence do market forces have on him? How does he feel about getting contacted during his working day (by phone or email)? What’s his team and project management style?
- Information sources: How does he stay informed (specialist websites, blogs, social media?) What professional groups does he belong to? Who does he look up to in his professional sphere? (Is it research institutions, peers, journalists, certain publications)? Does he check his emails on his smartphone or his computer? What’s his attention span likely to be for content?
- Psychological profile: Is your target a man or a woman? What kind of age? Educational background? What does he do outside work? Is he a risk-taker or risk-averse? What’s his working style – is he the strategy and long-term goal type or the reactive type?
- Buying behaviour: How does he like to communicate with people he does business with? Does he prefer phone, email or face-to-face meetings? What online tools does he use? How does he feel about sales people? Is he the type to focus on the solution rather than the proble? Or does he prioritise results on the ground? Or value more the technical or expertise value of the solution? Or is he swayed by the financial investment it means? Or concerned by the risks of it not working? In short, what aspects are going to persuade him to buy?
To define your buyer personas, you have several choices. You can interview your best customers. You can organize targeted focus groups. Or you can sit down and brainstorm with the people involved in your buying cycle.
You’ll end up with an extremely detailed target profile that doesn’t represent any one person. It will be a prototype of your ideal prospect with all his specific demographic and socio-economic characteristics. This (or these) profiles mean you can be much more communication-effective. You now understand what your prospect will respond to best.
2. What are your ideal customer’s painpoints?
Meeting your prospect’s real needs is essential to getting to conversion point. Once you’ve got your profile defined, you then need to really pinpoint his challenges and painpoints. You have to get the full picture of what he’s up against in his daily reality. So if he says: ‘I want to do inbound marketing’, you’ll know that what he’s really saying is: ‘I need to generate more leads’.
To maximize your conversion potential, you must beone step ahead of the customer decision process. Right up to the moment of purchase, you need content that’s perfectly adapted to each ‘persona’ and their challenges.
But what if you identify several painpoints to which you can offer several solutions? Then decide which will best engage your persona. As you create your engagement messages, try to bring in the answers to these other painpoints. Use them to build up his awareness of the value of what you’re offering.
3. How do you come up with the perfect value proposition?
So you’ve got your buyer persona defined and you’ve identified his actual challenges. Now it’s time to set out your value proposition. A value proposition expresses the actual promise of value you’ll deliver. How is your solution different? How does it make the customer believe it’s better and more efficient for solving his problem?
These days customers expect pro-activity, relevance and continuity. The information you deliver should be precise, valuable and personalized to trigger the sale. You have to convince the customer that he’s making the right choice. Do this by delivering content that’s suited to each step in the decision cycle (Provide user reports, case studies, video demos, fact sheets etc).
Your end goal is a hyper personalized engagement process in which the prospect feels fully engaged and that leads him to convert. Hyper personalization, via a unique value proposition and targeted interactions, dramatically increases your chances of conversion. It’s a tactic that goes far further than merely boosting your sales. It takes into account customer satisfaction and brand relevance. By putting value to the customer front and center as the issue for sales teams, your buying cycle is accelerated and customer engagement is boosted.
To dig deeper into this topic, download our white paper “The Ultimate Guide to B2B Predictive Sales and Marketing”