Building An Evergreen B2B Buyer Persona For Your Tech Startup

Buyer Persona

Know your customers inside-out with this simple guide 

I don’t have the time to build a buyer persona for my B2B company. I am just starting out, so I should just focus on getting customers now.

This is a common reason (excuse) cited by founders or the marketing lead of tech companies for not building a B2B buyer persona

We see this even more so in B2B companies, where some marketing teams argue that they are marketing to companies and not consumers

When in reality, we should see it as H2H (Human marketing to another Human) 

Ok, time to confess that I did not come up with this H2H concept- it was taken from a recent webinar I attended 😉

But even so, this emphasizes the importance of building a buyer persona for marketing success. Once you know who you are marketing to better than they know themselves, all that is left is to execute on your plan

Before we get into how to create a buyer persona, let us define what a buyer persona is. More specifically, what you will include in a template

After creating a buyer persona, these are the main points you should have covered regarding your ideal customer 

  • Demographics: Age group, gender and location 
  • Job title of the buyer
  • What are the KPI and roles and responsibilities of this person
  • What are the main pain points this person faces in his job
  • Where does he gain industry knowledge/insights from
  • Is this person a decision-maker or is his superior the one who decides
  • Will he be the one using your product 

Looks complicated? Don’t worry as we will cover each step of creating a buyer persona in this article

Hint: It is not rocket science

Let’s get into it! 

Start With Existing Data From Your B2B Customers 

If you already have a website and a few customers, reviewing the data you have will provide you with valuable information

When reviewing your customers, which customer is easy to work with? Which customer is likely to refer you to another company and what is it about your offering that offers the most value to them?

Start from the profile of the company before looking at the job title of the person you usually liaise with 

This will give you a good idea of what kind of customer is likely to be converted when marketing to them

Analyze your website traffic by using tools such as Google Analytics and in particular, look for data with regards to

  1. The demographics of your visitors
  2. The channels they take to visit your website (direct, organic, referral or through social media)
  3. What are their affinity categories (interests)
  4. What search terms does your website visitors use before visiting your website?

Looking at your existing data will give you a good idea of the kind of company that is likely to buy your product. Furthermore, this will help you in your audience selection when buying digital ads in the future

The next step will be to identify the profile of the decision-makers in these companies

Identifying the decision makers

When it comes to B2B marketing, there is more than one decision-maker involved in the sales process.

This means that you need to market to different people who are likely to have different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to meet

Note that the keyword here is people- always remember this point when doing B2B marketing  

Who do you usually present a demo to? Is it the head of marketing, head of technology, or the CEO of the company? 

After identifying the job titles of the decision-makers, look for profiles with these job titles on LinkedIn. Look at the achievements these profiles have highlighted and the KPIs that are laid out in the job ads for these roles

What your buyer persona should look like at this stage

This will give you a clearer idea of what kind of results potential customers are looking for. It also makes communicating the benefits of your solution a lot easier

Getting Feedback From Your Team

Why must you get your team involved?

Crafting a buyer persona should never be done in silo and neither is it a document used only by the sales and marketing team.

If you are the owner of McDonalds and each function of the business has a different buyer persona in their mind

  • Sales and marketing think customers value convenience
  • Product and kitchen staff believe that customers want quality food comparable to restaurants
  • Service staff find that customers value speed above all else

The end result? You have a company whose marketing message emphasizes convenience, that serves restaurant quality food and whose front line staff wants to fulfill the customer’s orders as quickly as possible.

That is a recipe for disaster (pun intended)

Questions to ask each business function

To get the best out of your team, ask questions specific to the role of each member. Some questions you can consider asking when including your team in the process.

General: Who do you think are our customers, how do they use our product and what benefits/results do they derive from it?

Product/Tech: Which existing product features have been used the most? Which have been used the least? What does the customer want to achieve in his day to day work that our product has not met for now?

Customer Success: Why did a customer leave? What feature/benefit was lacking from our product? Who do you deal with mostly? Who are the decision makers in a company?

Most marketing teams do not include other functions in building the buyer persona. If you have reached this stage, you would have a much stronger buyer persona than most teams. Now is time to put your assumptions to the test.

Putting Your Buyer Persona To The Test  

Carry out interviews

You now have a decent idea of your potential customer’s profile on paper. However, that is not enough information for effective marketing! While building a B2B buyer persona is a good start, the information is only on paper. You still need to meet them in real life.

Now is the time to get to know your potential customers in real-life. This is usually the difference between B2B startups that succeed and those that fail 

There are a few ways to reach out to the right people to interview 

  • Connect with people that have the job titles you researched previously and ask to interview them
  • Ask family and friends to introduce to you the relevant people
  • Reach out to associations or clubs in your industry

While you will need to build relationships with others for an introduction, it is well worth the effort 

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Ideally, you will want to interview people who belong to different types of organizations in terms of size and product offering 

Here are a few questions you may want to ask during the interview

  • What are the main challenges you face in your day to day work?
  • What are your KPIs? Possible to share a figure (e.g. annual sales target, keeping costs below a certain figure etc)
  • Where do you go to get information for your industry? 
  • Which industry thought leaders and publications do you follow?
  • What is considered useful content for you?
  • Which industry conferences are considered “must attend” for anyone in the industry?
  • Is the solution you offer something they will be willing to pay out of their own pocket? If no, why not?
  • Who do they report to in their company? Is this person the key decision-maker?
  • After explaining your product, what are the key benefits your interviewee can see?
  • Does your interviewee know about your competitors, and what is their impression of your competitors?

When asking these questions, it is important to refrain from explaining your product and company too much 

While it can be tempting to “sell” your product, your main aim is to get an unbiased view of what your potential customers REALLY think

Try Selling Based On Your Buyer Persona

You have gotten feedback internally and interviewed potential buyers based on your persona profile. While it may seem like a good time to launch a full fledged marketing campaign, there is one last step left.

Whether you are working in an early stage startup or an MNC, launching marketing campaigns require significant time, budget and effort. We want to reduce as much risk as possible before campaign launch by testing our assumptions.

The best way to test our buyer persona? Try selling to them!

Even if potential leads share that they are interested in your solution, the ultimate litmus test is if they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. To this, you do not need to pour in a lot of time and money.

Here’s how I would carry out this test

  • Create a list of companies that fits your buyer persona
  • Scrape the profile of relevant stakeholders (There are tools that allow you to extract LinkedIn profiles and their email addresses)
  • Craft a messaging template for each stakeholder based on your assumptions of them (KPI, daily responsibility, awareness of problem etc.)
  • Reach out to 100 contacts for each stakeholder (personalize your messaging to each contact)
  • State the reason you are reaching out (to solve the problem they have), share how the ONE selling point of your product and ask for an introductory call
  • Go through the results and make changes accordingly

Eventually, there will be 1-2 stakeholders who respond more than the others. Double down on these stakeholders and run marketing campaigns targeted at them!

Using/Iterating Personas For Your Tech Product

OK, doing everything that I just listed in this article will not give you a complete understanding of your customers just yet. 

However, if you find the sales team constantly finding it hard to close the leads provided by you or worse still, not being able to find leads, then it is time to work on building a buyer’s persona 

The next step will be to work on your content marketing to establish your brand as the top player in your category and most importantly, generate quality inbound leads

What other B2B best marketing practices do you find useful for tech companies? Comment below!

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