The Buyer persona – Why and how sales managers must use it

Defining your ideal customer is the first step towards customer acquisition. Having this knowledge is critical for all your activities like product development, business strategy, sales followup, content creation, acquisition to even retention. anddddd please throw away the misconception that “its just for the design people or for social media marketing”

In my previous avatar of a VC and now an entrepreneur, I’ve seen that sales teams having clarity on each buyer persona they want to target has been a major differentiation factor between the hustlers and the drifters.

What are you ?

Let me tell you some more on why I think buyer persona is critical in sales and marketing.

What is a Buyer persona ?

To know your buyers you need to research and observe your target audience. Based on this initial brainstorming and research an imaginary person is created who vaguely inhabits the most common qualities of your audience. That’s your buyer persona.

eg. you are a fashion shoe boutique owner. 31 year old Gabriela who works at  Accenture and loves to dress up for your work could be one of your buyer personas. You can design your content marketing or email marketing campaign accordingly.

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At times there is more than one buyer persona for your product. This happens when your product is good fit for many types of customers. So here, we need to make buyer persona for each group.

How is Buyer persona different from an empathy map?

Empathy mapping delves and functions out of the sensory information of your target audience. What they see, hear, feel, think, do etc. You can read all about empathy maps in detail here.

On the other hand, a buyer persona is an imaginary picture of a buyer detailing the perceivable traits of a target audience e.g. Lifestyle choices, education, demographic etc.

That way, when you are writing a blog post, email ,sales communication you would exactly know  whom you are talking to and this would any day, help in higher conversion rate, as the message conveyed is more specific and personalised. Buyer persona provides direction to your outbound and inbound marketing.

We now know Buyers persona is important for business. But, how do we make one??

The basic buyer persona template

Ideally three to five personas are more a good number to represent your ideal customers. The template would contain the basic information like who the person is, what they value and how to speak to them. A quick overview of the same would be:

1. Job Title: details about the company, job role

2. Demographics: Age, gender, household Income, Urban/rural, Education, religion, social status

3. Goals and Challenges: Primary and secondary goals, how our product can achieve these goals, the challenges faced, can our company solve these challenges

4. Value/Fears: Value system, common objections and fear specified during sales pitch

Here’s a fictitious sample of the template we use at Alore:


How to create a Buyer persona?

The first step to making Buyer’s Persona is to speak extensively to your existing customers as they are the ones who are using your product. Speak to a sizeable number (50+ people at minimum). You need to do it diligently at least once or preferably twice in a year. In case you are new player, try speaking  to follow your nearest competitors social media followers and try to get in touch with them.

The ideal situation would be to take an appointment with your customer for 10-15 minute phone call/meeting to understand them better or have them fill an e-survey. In case there are no existing customers, you can look at your competitor’s customers.

Customers generally like when they are being heard, interviewing them gives them a chance to give you an honest opinion about your product.

Moreover, when you interview them, they tend to feel their opinion are being valued and more often tend to become more loyal towards your company.

Tip for Interviewees

  • Use incentives wherever possible to lure your customers and prospects to speak to you. eg free survey results, free e-book, free templates, coupons etc.
  • When you are dealing with your non- customers it is very essential that you make it clear in the beginning itself that this isn’t a sales call. You need to specify that you are doing to research to serve them better.

How to use the data

Once you are through with your research, you will have lot of data about your potential and current customers. The next important step would be to identify commonalities and patterns among these customer data. Give the persona a name. Similarly create 2-3 more personas and share it with your team to use it effectively.

In conclusion I’d just like to repeat what I asked earlier. Take out minimum of a day to conduct the exercise on identifying your buyer personas and then working on solving their problems and fulfilling their needs. You have to reach a point where within 30 seconds you can identify your top 3 buyer cohorts and in order of their relevance. Thats when you’re onto something huge.

Hoping this helped !! Do share your thoughts on what you think of creating buyer personas and how/how not its been of use. I’d love to hear.

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