Creating B2B Buyer Personas: The Ultimate Guide
December 29, 2019
Buyers are 48% more likely to consider vendors that personalize marketing to address their specific needs.
If you don’t have a detailed B2B buyer persona you’re leaving money on the table.
Without a detailed persona your sales and marketing team’s time is being wasted on chasing leads that are a bad fit and likely to churn.
A B2B buyer persona is the best way to ensure your team is completely aligned on who you’re marketing to, and how you should sell to them.
In turn, you’ll see a lower churn as your customers are a perfect fit for your solution.
What Is a B2B Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictitious representation of your ideal customer.
Other terms used when referring to this concept include business persona, customer description, or an ideal customer persona (ICP).
A strong buyer persona is crucial if you want to maximize the ROI of your sales and marketing activities.
Ideal Customer Profile vs. User Persona
Despite being used interchangeably, buyer persona and ICPs are different. Let’s take a look at how.
An ideal customer profile, or ICP, is ideal for lead generation activities.
When a new business is starting to sell a new product or service, creating an ICP is all they can do. ICPs are based on market research and the goal is to identify firms that are a good fit for your services.
Developing an ICP is crucial if your B2B marketing and sales team want to be contacting the right people.
A Buyer Persona goes deeper than an ICP. It incorporates much of the same research, but includes more detail. A Buyer Persona enables you to optimize messaging at all stages of your sales funnel.
If you’re running any Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns, then a detailed B2B buyer persona is vital. Your persona will help you identify how, and where to engage with your ideal customer.
But, how does a buyer persona reveal more than an ICP?
Here’s a brief overview of how a buyer persona goes deeper than an ICP:
- Discover your best customers’ pain points, as well as their favorite features and benefits from your solution.
- Improve your solution and messaging by asking your sales team about common pushbacks.
- Rather than only focusing on initial pain points, you strive to understand the needs of all key decision-makers.
- Not only will you know your buyers’ job title, industry, and company size, you’ll know your persona’s KPIs, and the decision-makers they’ll need to run your solution past.
- As well as demographic data you’ll also include firmographic and technographic data to qualify your ideal customer.
If you’re running ABM campaigns you’ll need a detailed B2B buyer persona to best use your resources.
Why You Need a B2B Buyer Persona
A poorly defined B2B buyer persona is your sales and marketing team’s worst nightmare.
Without one, resources and energy will be wasted, and closing new business will be impossible.
A detailed buyer persona will improve your entire sales funnel to speak to your ideal customer.
If you use B2B data to identify and contact prospective customers then a detailed buyer persona will let you find your best customers more easily.
For example, on contact databases like DemandScience you can filter by technographics. Based on your B2B buyer persona you’ll be able to quickly create targeted lists of prospects.
If cold outreach is part of your sales strategy then a detailed buyer persona is key. Your sales team will be able to qualify leads before reaching out to them, making them more productive and helping them close more business.
When creating your B2B buyer persona you should be using as much data as possible to back it up.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
We’ve seen how important a B2B buyer persona is to a successful sales and marketing team.
But, how do you create one?
1. Identify Your Best Customers
The best place to start when creating your persona is by looking at your best customers.
Note that you shouldn’t be looking at all of your customers.
For most businesses, the best customers are those happily paying for one of your higher-priced plans. These customers were the easiest to sell to, are less likely to churn, and have a higher Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). Using your customer data you’ll save time and energy figuring this out.
You should be able to discover this information in your customer database.
To discover more qualitative information you can make use of customer surveys.
The more you learn, the more specifically you can narrow down on your ideal customer and the more useful your final B2B buyer persona will be. Your buyer persona needs to be backed by facts and data and not simply based on intuition.
2. Only Include Useful Information
The more information you include in your persona the more room for error your team has.
Only include key information that your marketing and sales team can use to optimize their strategy.
Key Information to Include When Creating Your Persona
1. Job Title
The job title of your ideal customer will help your sales team reach out to the right person within a company.
2. Demographics, Firmographics, and Technographics
Use demographic data to filter through prospects on sites like LinkedIn and help your sales team find the right people to contact.
Firmographics will help you identify the ideal companies to target. This data will save you time when using B2B data tools like DemandScience for lead generation.
Technographic data will help you find new customers using the same tech stack as your existing customers. You can filter by technographics to find customers in B2B databases like DemandScience, so knowing this lets you create a well-defined list of prospects.
3. Pain Points and Challenges
Why do your best customers pay for your solution?
Identify the pain points in your best customers’ workflow, and use those to optimize your sales and marketing messaging. This is also important to know when building new features.
4. Decision Criteria
What factors do your customers consider before purchasing?
Using this information you can position your solution in a way that best talks to your customers. For example, if you know your buyer will need to talk to their CFO before purchasing, you provide them with information on the ROI of using your solution.
You should also make sure your marketing is focusing on the benefits that your ideal customers find from your solution and position those front and center.
5. Where to Find Them
You should include details on where your best customers spend their time. Your sales team can use this to identify and contact prospects, rather than spending their time searching in the dark.
This part of your potential customer can include details about meetups or social media groups that your customers are part of. These will help your team figure out the best way to engage and start conversations with your leads.
Using a B2B Buyer Persona Template
If you don’t already have a B2B buyer persona then it’s tricky to know where to start.
Luckily there are a host of B2B buyer persona templates and examples out there to give you an idea of what to include.
HubSpot’s Make My Persona app is a helpful tool to get you started. It prompts you to answer questions about your customers’ pain points, goals, responsibilities, industry, and more.
Here are a few additional resources we can recommend:
- Xtensio’s Buyer Persona
- Up Close & Persona
- Buyer Persona Institute templates
We’d recommend adapting any templates you use to fit your business case.
How to Use Your B2B Buyer Persona
Once your B2B buyer persona is ready you can start improving your sales and marketing activities.
Here are some ways your team can use your B2B Buyer Persona.
1. Effectively Purchase B2B Data
Purchasing B2B data is a popular lead generation strategy used by sales teams. But, with all the available data it can be hard to effectively use a B2B database.
Creating a B2B buyer persona allows you to use tools like DemandScience in a far more effective way.
You can use firmographic and technographic data to filter and create targeted lists that your sales team can use for cold outreach.
Your sales team will spend less time identifying potential customers and spend more time having conversations with qualified leads.
2. Improve Your ABM Campaigns
With a clear idea of who you’re targeting and how best to target them, you can improve your ABM campaigns.
If your customer surveys revealed that your best customers spend more time on LinkedIn than Facebook, then you can optimize your advertising spend.
If you know your customers talk to certain decision-makers before purchasing, you can provide your sales team with information they can use to convince those key decision-makers that they need your solution.
A clear understanding of your B2B buyer persona should lead to a lower Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and help your team close more deals.
Improving Your Existing B2B Buyer Persona
Your B2B buyer persona is never complete.
Most companies’ products evolve over time and your ideal customer will too.
Here are three ways to improve your B2B buyer persona:
1. Use Surveys During Onboarding
In the same way that you created your initial persona, the best way to improve your buyer persona is by talking to your customers.
Collecting feedback during the onboarding process is an amazing learning opportunity. You could ask these on a screen during the onboarding or through a simple email.
Use open-ended questions and avoid framing them in a way that leads to the answers reflecting what you want to hear.
Here are some onboarding questions you can use to collect valuable feedback:
- What led you to purchase our solution?
- What’s your favorite feature or benefit of using our solution?
- How likely are you to recommend us to a friend, and if so, why?
2. Use a Churn Survey
A churn survey will help you discover valuable information about your customers (and your solution).
For example, does your product have a powerful feature you know your ideal customer would benefit from, but they’re not using?
You can show them how to extract even more value from your solution, and reduce the chance of future churn.
3. Feedback Loop Between Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Product Development
A good B2B buyer persona means your team doesn’t have to leave anything to chance.
A feedback loop between departments is important to always have an accurate buyer persona.
One example of this in practice would be your customer support team providing information on frequently asked support questions to your sales and team.
Your sales team can use this to improve their messaging in cold outreach or address pain points early on in product demos.
Learnings can be used to update or add to your B2B buyer persona, and ensure your team is communicating with your ideal customer in the best way.
Once your detailed B2B buyer persona has been created you can start to reap the benefits.
The extra clarity for your sales and marketing team will help them see a higher ROI on their activities and help ensure they’re targeting the right people, in the best way.
Every business needs a B2B buyer persona if you expect to be able to find, convert, and retain more customers.
Once you have your buyer persona defined, you can use DemandScience to source lead lists that will be vital in your ABM campaigns.