Did_you_get_buyer_personas_rightMost CMO’s have created Buyer Personas. Best in Class CMO’s go a step further to invest in creating Buying Process Maps. The most important question these CMO’s ask is “Did we get it right?”

 

Buyer Personas have to be right. Your company is building products, content and campaigns based on the personas. The sales force utilizes them to make sales. If there are inaccuracies, the company’s success in making the number is in jeopardy. Furthermore, the CMO will be held accountable.

 

How Do CMOs Know They Got it Right?

There are many ways one can make sure they got it right. The surest way is to avoid out dated practices in the first place. Make sure you are using deep qualitative buyer research. Most are in a position where they need to validate what has been created. Also, at the same time, check if buying behaviors is changing.

 

To do this, you must validate everything in your personas and buying process maps (BPMs). The best way is through customer and prospect interviews. To help you with this, download the Persona & BPM Validation Guide. It is an example guide to get you started. These interviews are key to validating you got the Personas and BPMs right. It also includes a Buyer Persona Assessment to verify your personas are not obsolete.

 

Buyer Interviews

First, work with sales to identify buyers to interview. There are 2 categories for this, customers and prospects. For customers, assign your teams to validate specific related BPM stage questions in the field. A mechanism should be supplied to the sales team to provide regular feedback. For prospects, this can be done in the field through observation and good listening. Capture every question the prospect asks.

 

There is a 4 step interview techniques to maximize engagement:

 

Step 1 – Pick Topics and Themes to Validate: These represent the context of your interview. Begin with the end in mind. What buying stage and part of the buying process map are you trying to validate?

 

For example:

 

  • What were they doing when they were not in the market for your solution
  • What things stimulate them to enter a buying cycle
  • How buying decisions were made
  • What values were perceived as important

     

Step 2 – Develop Starter Questions: Don’t lead the witness with breadcrumb questions. Ask questions that prompt net new thinking. The goal is insight into their perceptions on the topics and themes from step 1.  Use open-ended questions such as:

 

  • What put you in the market for a solution?
  • How did you initially become aware of our solution?
  • What approach were you previously using to address this issue?
  • What is important to you when it comes to choosing a vendor?

     

The goal is to gather input that validates the Buyer Persona content. A sure sign that your Personas are strong is a consistency in response. A warning sign is if you start feeling like you need to split up the Personas. That is a sign that the Persona is inaccurate or that you missed something.

 

Step 3 – Plan Your Interview Technique: The goal is to engage in a free flow conversation.  To do so, the interviewer uses certain skills and techniques to probe deeper.  Some critical interviewing competencies include:

 

  • Gaining trust between the interviewer and interviewee
  • Attentiveness to what buyers are expressing
  • Query other purchases they have been involved in to gain insights
  • Using follow-up techniques to probe deeper

     

Step 4 – Record & Validate: The information and data gathered must be captured in a framework. You are looking for consistent patterns and behaviors or you are discovering changes to your buyers.  You want insight into your buyer’s goals & objectives, obstacles & fears.

 

Key Takeaway:

CMOs invest a lot of time and money in creating Personas and Buyer Process Maps. The success of the organization depends on if they got it right. CMOs are held accountable for this. To know you got it right, validation needs to occur with interviews. Download this tool to validate your Personas.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Koehler

Helps clients adopt emerging best practices so they can make their number.
Learn more about John Koehler >

John has been with SBI since 2011. He has worked with executives in Executive Education, Media, Telco, IT Services, and others. Under his leadership, organizations have successfully grown revenue and improved sales and marketing effectiveness. With a focus on aligning strategies across functions, John has delivered strategic solutions that are actionable and executable. Prior to SBI, John earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame.

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