Sales development teams spend their time communicating with prospects to understand their specific challenges, qualify them as a potential customer for the solution, and schedule a meeting with sales. The more they know about the specific personas that they are communicating with, the more relevant their messaging becomes and the more successful that they will be at achieving all three of their objectives.
To complete the activities above, sales development reps (SDRs) must be able to effectively engage with prospects in the sales process. The key to achieving valuable engagement is to leverage buyer-responsive selling.
Buyer-responsive selling is a practice that focuses the efforts of SDRs and sales reps on who the typical buyers are, their priorities, and the experience they want to have. This approach enables sales to deliver the personalized, relevant, and empathetic engagement that today’s distracted and demanding buyers expect.
DEVELOP BUYER PERSONAS IN A CROSS-FUNCTIONAL PROCESS
The go-to-market organization must collectively agree upon key buyer personas based on its stakeholder map, develop the initial personas, then train SDRs and sales reps.
Identify the personas. The first step is to assign a cross-functional team from marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success. Build a stakeholder map that identifies the threads of the account (e.g., entry point, decision maker, business owner) that align to the roles that are essential to the sales process. Prioritize the buyer personas for different seller roles. For example, SDRs almost always focus on the entry point threads as a way into the account.
Develop the buyer persona. The cross-functional team should do the work to create a persona document with the sections listed below. Include product marketing to incorporate information from existing persona documents that may already exist. Interview one to three individuals with expertise relevant to each persona. An expert could be a customer or a seller employee who is the persona or someone intimately familiar with the persona.
Train and certify the SDRs and sales reps. Include buyer persona exercises in onboarding and ongoing training activities. Certify reps on their ability to demonstrate a deep understanding of the buyer personas.
RECOMMENDED BUYER PERSONA SECTIONS
Roles and goals. Focus the persona on the role that the buyer has, rather than their title. These may be different for different organizations. A clear understanding of what this person’s goals are will help keep the persona focused and actionable.
Day in the life. SDRs and sales reps can connect with prospects over the common activities and responsibilities of the buyer’s day.
Purchasing process. Documenting the purchase process helps define the level of the persona, the size of the organization, meeting attendees, and next steps in the sales process.
Challenges and benefits. Each challenge should have a corresponding benefit that presents itself when the buyer implements the seller’s solution.
EXAMPLE: BUYER PERSONA FOR A VP OF MARKETING[C1]
- Actionable buyer personas must be at the core of the entire sales process, informing every activity in which an SDR or sales rep is engaged. Many organizations already have buyer persona documents, but they are not actionable. Focus the team’s efforts on writing challenges and benefits in the buyer’s language to be actionable.
- Create buyer personas that help SDRs and sales reps gain a deep understanding of the buyer. In addition to challenges and benefits, knowing a buyer’s goals will show an understanding of what is really important in their role. Connecting over the nuances of a day in the buyer’s life demonstrates empathy and extends a conversation.
- Incorporate buyer persona challenges and benefits across SDR prospecting tools. Leverage persona challenge and benefit statements in SDR enablement tools, including value props, use case stories, insights, and sales engagement templates/snippets.
- Buyer personas inform fundamental prospecting tools. Elements of the buyer personas, specifically challenges and benefits, should be integrated into on-the-job sales development messaging tools like sales engagement touch patterns and calling cards.
- Ensure the personas are understood and internalized by each SDR. It is critical that all new SDRs go through persona training. It teaches them what they need to know about the buyer persona and gives them a foundation for communicating with prospects. Sharing documents and encouraging SDRs to read them is not the level of training that is required. Test and certify that SDRs know how to apply the information in the persona documents to their interactions with prospects.