Do you know exactly who your ideal customer is? Have you developed accurate customer personas? Many company leaders may say something like: "Of course we do! We sell to tech companies." But do they understand which people have a stake in the decision-making process at one of those tech company clients? Who actually makes the final decision?
As you can tell from this simple example, staying at the surface level of who a customer is inevitably results in knowledge gaps for marketers and salespeople alike. Perhaps just as bad is when everyone on an integrated team has completely different ideas about what their target consumer looks like. (For instance, are "tech companies" SaaS companies or IT service providers... or both?)
Without having clearly defined and detailed customer personas to help you focus your efforts, misalignment is all but guaranteed. Put another way: you may reach out to the wrong people, with the wrong messaging, while promoting the wrong product.
On the other hand, when you have that clear-cut customer persona in front of you, everyone on your team will be in a much better position to succeed. Your sales reps will understand how and why your customers interact with your brand. Plus, they may even be able to answer customer questions before they ask them. And your marketers will be able to craft highly targeted and compelling content — content that generates conversions.
The Groundwork for Creating a Hyper-Specific Customer Persona
There is a basic three-step system that will help you narrow down which customers you should pursue in the first place. Here is what it involves:
Why Flexibility Is Key
At times, your ideal buyer may need something you didn't foresee. Even if the discovery initially catches you off-guard, once you have that information in hand, you can use it to pivot your strategy and create more effective marketing materials and sales pitches.
Keep a close eye on how your marketing campaigns perform after you've created a new customer persona. Are you generating as many leads as expected? Are those leads converting, or is there a bottleneck somewhere in the sales funnel? Don't be afraid to go back to the drawing board if it's obvious that your messaging or offering doesn't align with customer needs. You may be selling to the wrong people, or may just need to tweak your offering to resolve a more specific problem than you'd anticipated.
Of course, communication between your sales and marketing teams is absolutely imperative if you want to maintain your flexibility. Be especially sensitive to the risk points that leads may express concern over — your ability to sell your offerings to them depends on your ability to address those risks.
Paint a Detailed Picture of Your Customer Personas
When you begin to develop customer personas, you want to make it as realistic and detailed as possible, even to the point of choosing a stock photo to go along with the fictional name you've selected. A good starting point may be thinking about one of your current customers who fits the mold of an ideal buyer. Perhaps you can ask your sales team about them, or even interview them personally. Then, you'll be able to leverage your knowledge of that customer, along with some historical data, to create a persona that effectively mirrors real life.
Spend some time imagining your customer persona's profile and general characteristics. As you develop the persona, drill down as far as you can go in terms of personal demographics. For instance, you may want to think about distinctive elements like:
Of course, there's no need to go overboard with your customer persona: you're a salesperson, not a Russian novelist! Still, the more relatable you make it, the easier it will be for your sales and marketing team to identify with and adapt to your target consumer. It certainly takes some effort to identify and define your ideal buyer. But at the end of the day, doing so is a major step toward improving your company's sales performance and forging long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.
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