Marketing generated personas should be sales tools, not distributed, printed and forgot about.

What percentage of your salesforce uses the marketing generated personas your team builds? 50%, 60%? Let me ask the question differently. What percent of the salesforce uses marketing generated personas on a regular basis to help with their sales planning?  If you are like most organizations, the answer is between 20% – 30%. Research shows that 70% of sales reps do not use marketing generated personas.


Put in different terms. A large portion of your marketing content budget is being wasted on content that sales reps does not use. This doesn’t have to be the case. SBI has worked with hundreds of clients that have this issue. Below is what we found.


Top 3 Reasons Marketing Generated Personas Fail with the Sales Force


  1. They are created in a silo


  2. They are outdated and static


  3. They are not buyer centric


Get out of Your Silo and Seek Validation


Far too often buyer personas are built by marketing, given to sales enablement and then rolled out to the salesforce. This fragmented process does not make for effective personas. The most effective marketing generated personas are ones that have been iterated and collaborated on.


If you are not asking the following questions of your sale counterparts, you are likely not building effective personas.


  1. Will and how will these personas help your sales team?


  2. What is missing from these personas that will help your sales team?


  3. How effective will these personas be in helping with pre-call planning?


Secondly, you should validate everything in your personas with the buyers themselves. You should conduct a series of interviews with buyers to confirm your personas are up to date and accurate. To help with this, SBI has created a Persona Interview Guide. Download the guide as a resource for conducting your buyer persona interviews.


Personas Should Be Iterative, Not Static


Most marketing organizations update personas on an annual basis or before a large product launch. Yet, I don’t know any buyers that only change their buying habits once a year or before new products come out. Buyers are constantly evolving and learning new information about products. The “Google” effect, or “Amazon” effect, has an impact on your buyers. Marketing generated personas should mirror the changes your buyers go through on an annual basis.


The most effective personas are iterated on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. They adapt and change as buying behavior adapts and changes. Most importantly, they are consistently validated by sales, marketing and persona interview.


Be Buyer Centric… Integrate the Buyer Process Map


Most marketing generated personas include the basics: job role, objectives, value propositions, challenges, features and benefits, etc. This is all information the salesforce you are supporting already knows. The salesforce does not need buyer personas to tell them this information.


The persona should enable the sales rep to walk in the buyers’ shoes. It should answer the questions, “What emotions does the buyer feel?”, “How are they going to buy?”, and “What are their trigger events?”.


The most effective buyer personas we see are buyer centric. They incorporate the information above into the buyer process map. The objectives, value propositions, products and features are all related to different stages in the buyer process. They help the rep understand the buyers’ point of view. This way the sales rep can use the buyer personas to help with his/her pre-call prep.


The best buyer personas include all of this information. If you want to create effective buyer personas that are used by the salesforce, you must do all three of these things. Doing one or two of them is not enough. A buyer process map is useless unless it is validated. Buyer interviews and validation are great, but if you only do it once a year, you will be behind your competition.


For more information on how to enhance your marketing generated personas. Check out Pricing-Enhanced Personas, a Sales Leaders Secret Weapon.


Additional resources can be found on SBIs website. To further guide the discussion around buyers, leverage the buyer section of SBI’s “How to make your number in 2018 Workbook” or take our Revenue Growth Diagnostic.


Download our Persona Interview Guide to validate the accuracy of Buyer Persona content, to gain confidence in knowing you got it right, and to identify when your buyer changes behavior.



Additional Resources


Bring your team to engage with a hand-picked team of experts at SBI’s Studio. 


Located in Dallas, TX, our facility offers state-of-the-art meeting rooms, lounge, full-service bar, and a studio used to tape our TV shows. SBI provides the location and facilitators, all at a compelling price point.


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Kyle Bushey

Helping clients understand customer trends and insights that maximize revenue growth.

Kyle’s diverse background in sales, finance and entrepreneurship position him to understand the challenges that senior management face. His experience in account management, product launch and finance, allow him to provide strategic and tactical support across multiple levels and functions within an organization. Wile educated and trained in finance, Kyle spent multiple years in field sales and account management learning first hand how to hit his number. This deep understanding of sales and finance combined with SBI’s Revenue Growth Methodology brings immediate value to clients.

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