How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Optimizing Buyer Personas to Facilitate Pre-Sales Decisions
Guest articles > Optimizing Buyer Personas to Facilitate Pre-Sales Decisions
by: Sharon Drew Morgen
Buyer Personas do a great job finding and reaching probable buyers, while positioning messages and providing data. But it’s possible to make them even more efficient. Here’s a question to start thinking about Buyer Personas from a different angle: Do you want to sell/market? Or have someone buy?
You need both, of course. But right now your Personas just seek to ensure those with a need have optimal data to choose your solution, believing that if you can sell/market appropriately – the right campaign to the right buyer with the right solution, messaged the right way at the right time – buyers will buy. But you could be closing a lot more.
DEVELOPING BUYER PERSONAS
Currently your targeted campaigns are only reaching the low hanging fruit. It’s possible to enter earlier and facilitate (and influence) the hidden portion of the buying journey that the sales model, profiling, positioning, or messaging doesn’t address.
As an outsider, you can never have intimate knowledge of how any particular buyer buys and your generic profiles and categories are not only restricting your audience but missing the opportunity to influence them earlier by
Doing a Google search, I found this definition from Hubspot: “Personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers.” And herein lies the problem: while Personas can generalize the range of needs or buying criteria along a generic standard there’s no way to facilitate any individual user or influence the systemic decision issues they need to resolve before they can consider buying anything. In other words, the very definition of the term (fictional, generalized) excludes the full range of possibility for people who may be buyers, or those seeking data from a site.
But that’s only one of the problems. The other is that you’re missing an opportunity to expand your buyer base and recognize and touch those who need you but aren’t yet prepared to buy, and actually facilitate Buyer Readiness. By shifting the types of information you offer to influence each stage of the Pre-Sales decision path and any Personas that are uniquely involved in a specific buying decision, you can close more.
DATA PROVIDED LIMITS FULL RANGE OF POSSIBILITY
Populating data to attract Buyer Personas assumes you know who is buying and the specific information they need to make a buying decision. But there are inherent problems with this assumption:
If you knew how to truly influence, or find the full set of Buyer Personas, you’d be closing more sales. Currently, you continue to attempt to push your content out, hoping – hoping is the operative word – it lands where you want it to land, but face an unnecessary failure factor when your only tool is to ‘understand need’ or ‘offer’ good, relevant information that may get to them at the wrong time or in the wrong way for them. Why not put on a Coach/Consultant hat on first, enter during the decision/change phase first, become part of the change-based decision path, discover ALL of the Buyer Personas, and actually lead them through their Buyer’s Journey and facilitate Buyer Readiness?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER FACILITATING THE BUYING DECISION PATH
To get the right information to the right people (i.e. the full complement Buyer Personas) at the right time, the following things must occur for a buyer before they can consider what solution or vendor to choose:
1. Assemble the full Buying Decision Team: since buyers cannot consider or even have the accurate fact pattern for any potential need until the entire complement of folks is assembled, how can you use the Buyer Persona model to help your particular buyer universe discover how to know if they have collected ALL of those who will be affected by a change (which might include your solution)?
2. Discern the givens: until ALL of the givens – the people, policies, history, relationships – are recognized and understood, buyers cannot know how ready for change they are. They would rather maintain their status quo than face disruption, and can’t know the parameters of possibility until then. How can Buyer Personas help them?
3. Workarounds: to avoid disruption, buyers will attempt to use familiar resource to fix their issues. They will contact old/current vendors, try to have current teams fix the problem, etc. The last thing they’ll do is buy anything as the process is too disruptive. Can Buyer Personas help here?
4. Change management: until or unless buyers can be certain that a purchase will not lead to disruption, and they have figured out how to get buy-in/consensus and manage change, they cannot buy. What would it look like if you added change management to your informatin the Buyer Personas will read?
All of these issues are Pre-Sales, do NOT include seeking to make a purchase, and are focused on maintaining Systems Congruence. Until all of the above is handled your focus on getting ‘good’ data to them ignores the change management portion of the Buyer’s Journey and only finds the low hanging fruit.
Let’s come up with additional profiles and categories for the types of issues buyers need to handle as they traverse their decision and change issues by entering early with a different focus and using Buyer Personas to facilitate the buyer’s change issues first. Use your knowledge of the buying environment to create different types of content to focus on each Pre-Sales decision factor and an expanded set of Buyer Personas. Become part of the Buying Decision Team, be there are they traverse their change, and be ready and prepared to sell when it’s time….with the prospects who will/can buy.
I’ve developed a change facilitation model (Buying Facilitation®) that enables buyers to involve all the right people very quickly, fully understand the complexities of their situation, discover how to test workarounds, get consensus, and manage change. It employs a specific guided approach to coach buyers through their internal politics, consensus, and change processes, with profoundly different results from using sales and marketing alone. With a focus on addressing the path of congruent change, it employs a new form of question, a different type of listening, and a systems-thinking role consistent with true consulting. Once you’ve facilitated buyers to the point they recognize they need to make a purchase, you’re already on their Buying Decision Team - and then you can sell or market earlier and faster, to the right people.
Sharon Drew Morgen is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation® - a change management model that includes learning how to Listen for Systems, formulating Facilitative Questions, and understanding the steps of systemic change. For those of you wishing to learn more, take a look at the program syllabus. Please visit www.dirtylittlesecrets.com and read the two free chapters. Consider reading it with the companion ebook Buying Facilitation®
Sharon Drew is the author of the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling With Integrity, as well as 6 other books on helping buyers buy. She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller What? Did you really say what I think I heard? Sharon Drew keynotes, trains and coaches sales teams to help them unlock situations that are stalled, and teaches teams how to present and prospect by facilitating the complete buying decision process. She delivers keynotes at annual sales conferences globally. Sharon Drew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 512 771 1117
Contributor: Sharon Drew Morgen
Published here on: 07-May-17
And the big