The best marketing leaders know how to overcome the divide and gain credibility with sales. One way they do this is through actionable buyer intelligence. They bring buyer insights to the sales team that can be easily leveraged in sales campaigns and prospecting. And they involve the sales team in the process.
Actionable & ongoing buyer intelligence takes on three critical forms:
- Buyer Process Maps
- Social Listening
Buyer personas are researched-based, modeled representations of who your buyers are. They provide insight into what goals & objectives drive their behaviors. Personas help the sales team understand why buyers make purchase decisions.
Here are some best practices when developing personas:
- Segment your Buyer Personas – by product, vertical, geo. Buyers vary from one to another. Be sure to capture these nuances. It will only help the sales team.
- Add to or update every quarter – the buyer is evolving rapidly. Don’t let your personas become stale.
- Get true buyer input – Don’t rely solely on internal resources. Avoid being ‘inward-out’. Interview prospects, customers and lost/no decision opportunities.
How to involve the sales team? Ask the reps to provide prospects and customers to interview. Collaborate with them to generate meaningful & relevant questions. Make sure you focus on the buyer’s goals, obstacles, fears and how they are measured.
Buying Process Maps
A Buying Process Map (BPM) is a tool leveraged by marketing and sales. It maps the decision making process used to purchase a product, service or solution. The BPM should start at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. It should start when the buyer isn’t in the market, happy with status quo. As such, it provides the sales team a blueprint for getting into deals early. By getting in early, the rep can bring value immediately and influence the buying process. This results in more deals won.
Here are some best practices when developing BPMs:
- Develop only after completing personas – Each buyer persona has their unique BPM. A decision maker buys for different reasons than am influencer. Don’t skimp here. Map the BPM for you key personas.
- Know the trigger events – Buyers move from one BPM stage to another after trigger events. Do your research and figure these out. They are clear signals for where the buyer is on the journey.
- Focus on early stage buyer behavior – Most reps struggle with bringing value to the early stages of the buying process. They wait for active demand (Ex: RFP) to engage. As a result, the get commoditized and battle only on price. Enable the sales team. Provide insight into buyer behavior during the early stages of the BPM. This will help them stimulate latent demand and get in deals earlier.
How to involve the sales team? Assemble a panel of the top performing reps. Invite them to help you build a BPM prototype based on their field experience. Validate the BPM through customer interviews. Bring the new insights to the expert panel for comment and feedback. Ask them to ‘test’ the BPM in live sales campaigns for further validation.
At its core, social listening is simply listening to what your buyers are telling you. There are several ways to gain buyer insight through social listening. One is using software tools to gather comments & keywords from social outlets such as LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter. Another is simply monitoring what customers are blogging, posting and sharing.
Here are some best practices when developing Social Listening:
- Cast a wide net – Listen to Company, Competitor, Channel, Contact, and Market. Listen for trigger events.
- Use an aggregation tool – Social media monitoring tools can mine text for specific keywords so they can be analyzed for patterns.
- Employ sales and LDRs in social listening – Teach reps to social listen. For example, show them how to follow news feeds and updates on LinkedIn.
How to involve the sales team? Run a webinar to teach reps to how to social listen and spot trigger events. Most don’t have a clue.
CALL TO ACTION:
Tear down the siloes! If you want to make the number, marketing and sales must work in concert. The best marketing leaders take the lead and converge around buyer intelligence. Download the Buyer Research Guide here. Engage the sales team and leverage them to gain buyer insight.