New Markets, Sales Insight, Buyer Personas, and Other Questions from B2B Marketers

 In BrightTALK Academy, Demand Generation, Uncategorized

Last week I presented The Role of Buyer Personas in Demand Generation on the BrightTALK Academy. We discussed common problems that B2B organizations are facing in demand generation, including overall lack of success, a shortage of content leading to better results, and how many organizations are not holistically building successful buyer personas.

As with many webinars, there’s always not enough time to get to all of the questions. I wanted to continue the conversation, so below are some of the questions we couldn’t answer during the session. If you have other feedback or questions, feel free to leave your comments below and I will respond directly.

Question: If you are entering a new market and your existing sales team doesn’t have experience in the market, what is the best way to get that insight when internal teams aren’t an option?

Answer: Even if you are in a market where the sales team is familiar and experienced, nothing can trump getting input directly from your customers and non-customers.  While sales people are a great source of information, they will still have a very company-focused perspective. However, the buyers will provide an unvarnished view of their world, their buying process, their challenges and market that cannot be gained solely from speaking to sales.

Additionally, whenever you are entering into a new market, do research on that market. Look for market trends, potential industry regulations and other factors that may impact or serve as trigger events to initiate a purchase cycle.

Question: Buying committees are important for larger sales. What advice would you give in using buyer personas for more transactional B2B business ($1-5k) where the goal is to close volume online?

Answer: Two main pieces of advice here. Don’t necessarily discount buying committees even in a lower cost, transactional sale as they may still exist in this scenario. Secondly, regardless of the consensus purchase, it is still vital to understand the purchase process of the buyer and design your demand generation program to align to that process and the persona(s) that are involved in that process.

Question: Are there questionnaires available for the research phase? Such as what to ask customers and what to ask the sales team?

Answer: The questions that you will want to ask are not about your product or service, but more about providing insight into the buyer’s path to purchase. Here are some examples:

  • What kind of content did they consume?
  • Who serves on their purchase committee?
  • What is their typical purchase timeline?
  • What events initiated the purchase cycle?
  • What challenges were they looking to solve with this purchase?

As for sales, ask them what they are seeing in their deals, or if there are industry regulations impacting purchase. What are their biggest obstacles to deals?

Having these two viewpoints in addition to the research into the market, analysis of data and interviews with prospects who are not your customers will provide a holistic view that will enable the development of effective content that engages, nurtures and converts.

Question: How many personas should you develop?

Answer: That really depends on how many people are on the buying committee. Some programs that I have helped develop have had as many as seven people on the buying committee while others have had only three. The key is understanding the makeup of that buying committee and developing the personas for each one using the methodologies spoken of here and on the webinar.

Overall, the development of personas is essential for effective demand generation because if you do not know your buyer(s), it will be impossible to develop content that maps to their buying stages. Consequently, if content is not aligned to the buyer, then it does not warrant any investment.

The buyer-centric view of demand generation is the only way to ensure effectiveness. Without it, marketers are just guessing, and that is a waste of time and resources and will not help the buyer, or your revenue.

This is a guest post from Carlos Hidalgo, CEO/Principal at ANNUITAS.