Buyer Persona’s — A Great Starting Point For Sales!


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I’m a tremendous fan of Buyer Personas*. Anyone who isn’t leveraging this concept heavily in all marketing and sales programs is missing a tremendous opportunity. Strong buyer personas is the foundation for marketing programs, content development, and nurturing potential prospects.

Buyer Persona’s are a great starting point for sales people. After my post, “You Need To Know What’s Keeping Them Up At Night,” I got a lot of questions on “how do you figure all of this out?” Buyer Persona’s help you begin to understand this. They help you understand a number of things that impact people in the role the “persona” is focused on. They help you understand things like how they are measured, key drivers, key challenges/problems/opportunities. You can get a lot of insight about how people in these roles think and act. This starts to give you the insight you need to have good introductory conversations with these types of people.

Buyer Persona’s are specific profiles key roles within each segment of your target customers. They provide great insight into the needs, drivers, trends, and issues that people in key roles face. They address the key responsibilities and functions performed by people in these roles. They address typical KPI’s, metrics, and other issues these people pay attention to. Persona’s need to be developed for each of the roles that are typically involved in the buying process for your solutions and services. They need to be adjusted for each target segment. For example, the persona of a CFO in a public company may be different than that of a private company. The persona of a CFO in a semiconductor company may be different than that of a CFO in a company building storage solutions, that of a software sector CFO, and that of a CFO in the consumer packaged goods sector.

Buyer Persona’s are a cornerstone to smart marketing strategies and even a foundation for product development strategies. Every organization should be investing in developing rich sets of buyer personas.

But for sales people, buyer personas are very important — if your company has them, leverage them. You are making a big mistake if you think they are just for marketing.

Personas accelerate your ability to understand what drives those people within your customers. However, they represent a starting point. See buyer persona’s are developed to target relevant communications to each persona type—but not necessarily to an individual. Sales people need to drill deeper–you need to personalize the persona. You need to overlay the persona with what’s happening with the specific company you are targeting. Sales people must take these personas and adjust them for the real individuals you are contacting, their issues/priorities and needs are, and the individual’s personal goals and objectives.

(*Two of the best people in Buyer Personas are Ardath Albee and Tony Zambito. Make sure you study their work.)

FREE WEBINAR! Join us for this week’s FREE webinar from the Future Selling Institute on Basic Blocking And Tackling, Arming Your Sales Team For Success, With Mike Weinberg. Mark your calendars for Friday, May 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM EST and click here to register.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Dave,

    Thanks for your kind mention. Buyer personas are indeed a great starting point for sales. Some of my best moments since originating the buyer persona development methodology some 9 years ago has been seeing sales teams jump out of their chairs when they realize the power of the insights and the buyer personas to help them engage conversationally. An appreciated on-point article here – thank you!

    Tony Zambito

  2. Tony: Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post—you were an inspiration in writing it. Too few sales people understand the power of leveraging personas to accelerate their abilities to connect in meaningful ways with their prospects and customers.

    Likewise, I think too many marketers view personas as a tool for marketing—for building content, nurturing and communications strategies.

    Marketers and sellers need to work together to leverage the power of personas in all their efforts.

    Perhaps, together, we can start driving this change.

  3. Great post, Dave! I couldn't agree more. Tony Zambito is the master of persona marketing. LOVE his stuff! As you point out, personas are great starting points for sales and marketing folks, but they need to be personalized—by company, individual, and industry. We need to stop thinking of personas as reliably formulaic, fairly static, one-dimensional "profiles.” Instead, we need to dig deeper into the real-time, organic evolution of particular personas.

    One of the biggest challenges to personalizing the persona is what Tony calls the "how and why” complex. Traditional market research (on which personas have been based) focuses on identifying the "who and what” of prospective markets and customers (a.k.a. demographics). While this information is clearly valuable, the "how and why” of purchasing behavior often remains a mystery. For more on this, see Tony’s post here:

    Perhaps social networking offers a reliable means of qualitative research that can inform and refine dynamic persona development.

    Note: The views expressed in this posting are my own; they do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of Hoover's.

  4. Very interesting post. Just a quick question: Is buyer persona same with customer profile? Or what makes them distinct or similar with each other? Thanks!


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