For 10 years, IBM has conducted their Global C-suite Study. The research represents tens of thousands of interviews which span industries and borders. It’s an impressive body of work, which provides exceptional insight into the minds of CXOs. Some of the highlights can be seen in the infographic.*


A trend in recent years is that 73% of CEOs consider customer insights as their most critical investment area. Additionally, customer collaboration is a top priority for 7 out of 10 CEOs in outperforming companies.  


Can your organization say the same? Is the customer included in your corporate sales strategy? If not, consider downloading SBI’s 2014 Research Report, which covers emerging trends in sales and marketing.


73% is quite astounding. Three out of every four CEOs think the same way on this topic. To put it into perspective, investing in customer insight is a higher priority than investing in Sales and Operations.  It’s worth noting that this data doesn’t encapsulate all CEOs. This feedback was delivered by CEOs categorized as “outperformers” – the top tier.  The survey doesn’t speak to the focus of underperformers. Suffice it to say, they’re probably focused on the competition and not the customer.


How to benefit from customer insight:  One of the most effective ways is through the use of Personas and Buying Process Maps (BPM). The use of both tools helps to actualize insights throughout the organization. Here’s a brief overview of how Personas and Buying Process Maps can benefit organizations.


What are they?


  • Personas are research-based representations of who your buyers are. Objectives, motivations, and influencers are all taken into account. Think of Personas as detailed mosaics of your actual buyers. They are a composite of the customer findings and insights.
  • Buying Process Maps are essentially Step 2 of this process. They are tools used by Sales and Marketing to map the buying process for a specific Persona. The Buying Process Map is aligned to the stages a buyer experiences before purchase. This focuses primarily on trigger events that move the buyer from “not in the market” to stimulated.


What do they do?


  • Personas provide a quick reference point regarding the influences and preferences of a particular buyer group.Personas2
  • Buying Process Maps provide Sales and Marketing with a framework for understanding the buyer. This allows them to assist the buyer through the buying process until, and beyond, purchase.


How does it benefit you to use them?


  • Personas and Buying Process Maps help to ensure that the buyer and seller are aligned. Once aligned, sales activities can appropriately move the opportunity forward. To use them means you will reduce miscommunication and wasted effort. Think about the difference between conversing with someone you relate to and someone you don’t. If you relate, you’re more comfortable, more open, and happier. With Personas and Buying Process Maps, your sales force can relate to your customer. This leads to more productive conversations, and more conversions.


Update Early and Often

Personas and Buying Process Maps should evolve. They should become living, breathing elements of your sales strategy. A static Persona or unchanging Buying Process Map makes your organization stagnant. When the buyer changes, you change. This needs to be reflected in your Personas and BPMs.  Remember that they (the customer, not the competition) should always be your main focus. Take some time to reflect and assure that your organization not only thinks this way, but also acts this way.




Aaron Bartels

Helps clients solve the most difficult challenges standing in the way of making their number.

He founded Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) with Greg Alexander and Mike Drapeau to help business to business (B2B) leaders make the number. The world’s most respected companies have put their trust in and hired SBI. SBI uses the benchmarking method to accelerate their rate of revenue growth. As an execution based firm, SBI drives field adoption and business results.

His clients describe him as a consultant who:


“Makes transformational impacts on me, my people and my business”


“Solves my most difficult problems that to date we have been unable to solve ourselves”


“Brings clarity to an environment of chaos”


“Has real world sales operations experience making him qualified to advise us on a variety of sales and marketing challenges”


“Is able to spot proven best practices that once implemented will make a material impact on my business”


“Constantly challenges status quo and compels us to act”


“Focuses on execution and driving change to stick in our environment”


“Makes good on his promises while enabling our business to realize his projected results”

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