Buyer & Customer Personas | Ideal Customer Profile Guide

Understanding Data Management in BPO

You can’t talk about lead generation without mentioning buyer persona. So then, just what is a buyer persona, customer persona and ideal customer profile (ICP)?

This article looks into ideal customer profile, buyer persona, customer persona, and why they are important to your sales and marketing teams. We also show you how to build a buyer persona, and their connection to your marketing campaign.  

By the end, you will have a good understanding of the impact of ICPs and personas on your bottom line.

Let’s get down to the definitions.

What is a buyer persona?

buyer persona is simply a representation of your ideal customer, usually the people who make purchase decisions in a B2B business setup. Buyer personas help businesses to understand customers from a human-centric perspective. That is; what makes them tick? The aim of having personas is not to profile but to uncover behaviours to gain an understanding of why people accomplish goals. You may have a single or multiple buyer personas depending on the size of your business.Buyer personas help in attracting leads, allocating resources, and understanding what makes people make purchases. This makes your marketing campaign more effective.     

While buyer persona is used interchangeably with customer persona, there’s a difference. Buyer personas give you a great overview of your customers, they are not equivalent to your target customers. A customer persona refers to buyer personas that are successfully converted. This means, they represent existing customers.

Conversely, an ideal customer profile refers to the company that would get more value from your products and services. These would usually have the fastest and most successful sales cycle and a great retention rate.

Why are Ideal Customer Profiles/Buyer Personas Important?

As a B2B business, you may sell to a wide range of businesses and appeal to a wide range of personas within these businesses. However, it’s more important to know where you win more.

ICPs and buyer personas let you increase your revenue significantly along with aligning your marketing and sales teams with your messaging and core value proposition. When your sales teams know who they’re talking to and how to connect with, then their efforts yield more.

Product and service teams may also use ideal customer profile and buyer personas to consider how to improve and build products and services to meet customer needs.

Buyer persona and ideal customer profile development is equally an important first step to ensuring the success of your marketing efforts regardless of the size of your B2B business.

Here are some reasons ideal customer profiles, customer and buyer personas, are important:

Tailor marketing efforts to buyer’s needs

When you’re certain about who your target customers are and what they need, you can comfortably structure your marketing and promotional efforts appropriately. When you don’t know what your customers want, it is impossible to target them effectively.

Better understanding of buyer behaviour

Buyer personas give you a better understanding of how and why customers behave the way they do. This will help you understand them better so you have an advantage in promoting your service or product to them. You will develop content that is focused and speaks to their needs effortlessly.

Visualisation of the customer journey

Buyer personas and ideal customer profiles help you understand how customers move through the customer journey. From the moment they enter the top of the sales funnel to their conversion, you can clearly see why and how customers move from one stage to the next.

Better customer experience

When you know who your customers truly are and their behaviour, you’re able to offer them exceptional customer experience. This makes it easier to move them through the customer journey.

How do you create an ideal customer profile?

Creating your ideal customer profile requires you to dig around for data. Some characteristics you can use to identify a company that is a perfect fit include:

1. Revenue/budget/company size – Look at the lowest cost limit a customer will pay for your product or service.

2. Industry – Look out for specific industries that you work with.

3. Geography – Are your services limited to a specific region?

4. Legality – Are there any legal reasons limiting your potential customer base, such as location or government restrictions?

5. Product or service limitation – Do you have service level agreements (SLA) with your customers?

Although not comprehensive, this is a great place to start when you want to identify your ideal customer. These are qualities that a lead needs to possess for you to qualify them to buy from you.

What Should a Buyer Persona Include?

As you can already imagine, no two buyer personas are the same. There’s no right way to create a buyer persona. However, there are certain features that are common in most buyer personas. They include:

Name – It’s important to assign your buyer persona a fictional name.

Demographics – This captures the age of your customers, where they live and their average income.

Interests – What is it that your prospective customers have interest in?

Behavioural traits – What are the common behaviours among your customers?

Pain points and challenges – What issues and challenges do they face?

Goals – what is it that your customers want to achieve? How does your product or service address it?

Real quotes – What do your customers say about their goals? What do they think about your service or product?

Elevator pitch – This is a summary of what you’ll do for your customers.

How can buyer personas be used by B2B businesses?

It’s obvious that customer personas let you create messaging and content that is appealing to your target audience. This is besides personalising your marketing for various segments of your audience.

This means that instead of sending a single generic lead nurturing email to everyone on your database, you’re able to segment them easily by the buyer persona and tailor the message to what you know about different personas.

You can also create negative personas if you want to tap into the added advantage of being able to single out bad contacts from the rest. This can also help in maintaining a low cost per customer and cost per head, hence more productivity.

Here are 4 ways you can use personas to guide the direction of your marketing efforts:

  • Product development. Personas can guide product building by helping identification and prioritisation of changes to what you’re offering based on what customers need.
  • Build effective strategies. Personas are critical when creating content marketing strategies as they help you focus your keyword research efforts and refer to when crafting copy. Personas are also helpful in prioritising and identifying promotional activities.
  • Build rapport with customers. When you know what the prospect is dealing with is well prepared to address them, your sales team will be effective

  • Better customer service. When your sales team have the right training on your customers’ problems. They can show empathy even when things don’t work out. 

How do you build a buyer persona?

Creating buyer personas is no mean feat. Where do you begin? What questions will you ask? How do you come up with accurate conclusions from the responses?

The best way to create customer personas is through surveys, research and interviews that involve a mix of prospects, customers, and anyone that might align with your target audience. Let’s look at some methods you can use to gather information you need to create buyer personas:

1. Fill the basic demographic information

Aim at asking demographic based questions through various channels that include in person, by telephone, and through online surveys. Include descriptive mannerisms and buzzwords of your persona that you’ll pick during conversations. This will make it easier for people on your sales and marketing teams to identify personas when talking to prospects.

2. Share information about the persona’s motivations

Synthesise the information learned from the interviews. You can then use this information to tell them how your business can help them.

3. Guide your sales team in preparing for conversations with personas

Include real quotes from interviews that exemplify what your personas are concerned about, what they want and who they are. From these, you can create a list of objections they may raise so your team is better prepared to address them when they get to speak with them.

4. Craft targeted messaging for your persona

It’s important to let people know how they should talk about your products and services with your persona. This includes a general elevator pitch positioning your solution in a manner that resonates with the persona. This will ensure everyone is speaking the same language when having conversations with customers and leads.

Personas are a great component, especially if you want to attract potential customers. When you don’t have a complete understanding of your customers, you’re likely to gamble on the results you’ll get. Developing personas is not only cost effective but an efficient way to focus your efforts and amplify your return on investment.

Should you Use Buyer Persona Templates?

A buyer persona template lets you put together your persona profiles quickly and easily. Templates are usually customisable and editable so you can build your personas by choosing the information to include.

Filling a buyer persona template lets you map out the main customer demographics, goals, background, identifiers, and challenges. Using persona templates helps to save time and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Bottom line: Do you need both an ideal customer profile and a buyer persona?

Although ideal customer profiles and buyer personas are different, they are linked. Your ICP may have several personas that your sales and marketing teams create content and reach out to. Even though ICPs and buyer personas are different, they work together to see that your sales teams are spending time on quality leads. Knowing your ICP advises your business on accounts you should target by defining the qualities you need. Similarly, buyer personas inform your teams about the individuals they are creating content with or prospecting and the questions they should prepare to answer. It is best to use your ICP at the beginning of the sales cycle, as this will help in qualifying leads so your sales reps don’t spend time on leads that will not close.

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