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10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid While Creating Buyer Personas

10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid While Creating Buyer Personas

Anirban Banerjee
Anirban Banerjee
September 16, 2022
5 min read

We know what happens when a deal blows up in your face. 

All the efforts that you had put into researching and drafting timelines go straight into the bin. 

Wooossshhh!

There can be many reasons why deals go wrong. The prospect might have some objections that you can’t tackle. They found your competitor more affordable. Or maybe, they just aren’t interested in the product - for realsies!

But the most devious one - the one that is hidden in the initial sales stages - is trying to persuade the wrong prospect. Creating a wrong customer profile can push you into this snakepit where there is nothing but darkness and loss.   

Even Simon and Garfunkel went through that :’)

You might just have created a buyer persona that has some obvious-but-big mistakes. Don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. There’s still time for new beginnings and more-informed buyer personas.

We’ll walk through the common mistakes that you should avoid while creating a buyer persona. But before that let’s find out why a buyer persona is a crucial step in the sales process.

What is a buyer persona and why should you create one

A buyer persona helps you identify your ideal customer. It is a template with demographic information, goals, challenges, and other details that broadly describe the prospects in need of your product/service.

For example, Sam has clients residing in the opposite corner of the world. To communicate with his clients, he needs a meeting software with additional features such as a chat box, whiteboard, and a noise cancellation feature that facilitate a good conversation experience.

The seller of the meeting software should create a template for the prospects like Sam who are in need of their product. They need to interview Sam and understand his frustrations and desires. 

What industry does Sam work in, and what is his job title?

How many calls does he make in a day?

How many people does he interact with on a call?

Using this information, they will be able to target the right prospects who can actually use their product. 

A buyer persona paves the way for your ideal customers who are likely to buy your product. Moreover, you can optimize or improve your product and services when you have better information about their goals and challenges.

No efforts of yours dragged and dropped to the bin.

No greetings exchanged with darkness, the great old friend.

A buyer persona creates a mental picture of your target audience. But a distorted picture will lead you in the wrong direction. A mistake while creating a buyer persona can cost you a deal and make you miss your targets. Here’s a don’ts-checklist that you should keep handy when creating buyer personas for your sales strategy.

10 biggest buyer persona mistakes to avoid while creating it 

1. Taking your ideal customer for a fictional character

A buyer persona is not a template based on assumptions and whims. You need to gather real data from the most credible sources, such as customer calls and your CRM. Or you can take this up a notch and base your persona on highly realistic data. 

Create a list of your customers who would like to spend a few minutes answering a survey or getting on a call with you. Take this opportunity to gather all the information you can about your buyer - that you can further use in your persona.  If your customers agree to be interviewed and answer your questions, things couldn’t get better! If not, you can ask them to fill out a questionnaire. Whatever gets the job done! You can also get insights from your customer support and sales team to gather this data.

Then, analyze this data to create a template that reflects the likes of the prospect. Real data, behaviors, and demographics align the buyer persona with reality.

Every byte counts.

2. Creating a buyer persona with insufficient information

We already have data collection on our checklist. Then the next logical problem is how much information is enough.

Interviewing or surveying a couple of customers is not sufficient. You are catering to a large market; you need to align your datasets accordingly. You don’t have to conduct hundreds of interviews either. After 5-8 interviews, you will start looking at a pattern of challenges, goals, demographics, behavior, and other details. Stop when you understand that pattern, and create your buyer persona.   

4. Creating buyer personas without collaboration

The more insights you get from the teams that directly engage with customers, the more optimized your buyer personas will be. Take help from sales teams, community engagement teams, and customer service departments.

Your current customers will help you understand the buyer’s journey, their frustration, their previous experiences, and why they are sticking to a product. This information is especially helpful in defining your ideal customer.

Leverage your coworkers, other teams, and departments to build your interviewee list.

5. Creating too many buyer personas

Even after avoiding overlapping content, you may end up creating too many personas if you do not truly understand the nature of your business.

Looking for more fingertips and that one buyer persona that works?

Create limited personas depending on the number of industries, sectors within the industries, and the departments within the sectors that you want to serve.

For example, you are a content development organisation that is serving the marketing department within the IT industry. That means your buying persona will include prospects who are in the marketing department in an IT firm.

If you decide to create buying personas based on people working in the marketing department in any firm - while you cater to only one specific industry - you might be heading in the wrong direction and wasting your time and resources.

Sticking to the nature of your business will ensure that you do not end up creating too many buyer personas.

That’s a relief.

 For example, you are selling a tool to independent bloggers that automate sending content-rich emails to their subscribers. The bloggers can focus on their blogs and leave the emails to your tools. 

In this case, you can conduct many interviews with independent bloggers writing about different industries. This way, you will understand the challenges and goals of the bloggers. But you do not need to create a buying persona for every blogger in each industry.

There is no golden ratio that sets the number of buyer persona to be created. You need to find similarities to group the templates when you are going too thin. Segment the templates when the buyer persona is not producing critical insights that will help you target your potential customers.

6. Not preparing for the interview

You have been on a call for the past 30 minutes, and the interviewee has answered all your questions. After cutting the call, you realised that you forgot to ask about their previous customer experiences. There is a chance that they will add this interview to the pain points if they have to give the interview again.

Remember that this call is very important for you. Take notes simultaneously or record the call and be focused on it.

You need to stay focused.

Go with a list of questions prepared beforehand but don’t be mechanical with your questions. Try to make a conversation with your interviewee. That will make them feel more comfortable, and the interviewee might tell you the additional information that can be useful.

But a conversation might stretch for too long. Keep a tab on the watch and limit the interview to 15–30 minutes.  

Don’t drain your interviewee that they don’t answer your call in the future or cut the call in the middle.

Go well prepared with a clear head.

7. Sitting on the wrong call

You might have a long list of calls to make for the interviews. From that list, pick out the clients who represent your ideal client. Messaging every customer will not yield the desired results.

    

Two hands won’t be enough for that list.

You might work with different industries, but you must already know the type of business you cater to. Your ideal interviewee should be someone you want to sell to. Expand on the list depending on this and interview such people.

8. Trimming out information

Indeed, not all that is said on a call or filled into a questionnaire is useful. But make sure that information is utterly useless before trimming it out.

The information from the interviews can be used in your marketing campaigns and strategies. It can help to prepare messages for social media content like LinkedIn, lead generations, and other areas of the sales process.

It can even be used to make the personas more authentic by incorporating direct quotes and including real customers’ frustration and goals. 

10. Not creating a negative persona

Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone would be interested in buying your product? Unfortunately, that’s too good to be true. But there’s always a silver lining. A negative buyer or someone who is not interested in buying your product helps identify anyone that’s not a good fit for your product or service. By identifying them, you can create an exclusionary persona, also known as a negative persona.

You must be thinking about what is the need to create a negative persona. Not everyone rejecting your product fits into this negative persona. So, how to create one of those? You have to repeat the steps to create a buyer persona, including interviewing prospects who won’t make the purchase decision in your favor and discovering similarities amongst them.

The negative persona helps you identify such problematic prospects. You won’t message customers fitting into this persona in the future. This saves your time and money.

Moreover, this information can be leveraged by the other departments of your firm, like the sales teams and marketing teams.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can create perfect buyer personas. Now, the next step is to get on a call and start interviewing.

All the best! 

You don’t need luck when you have Wingman 

Wingman, our sales intelligence platform, ensures that you are not left alone on your calls, interviewing your buyers, making notes, and then analyzing the data to create a persona. 

With Wingman’s AI-powered platform, you can make this process simpler, easier, and faster. It helps you with:

  • Segmenting your customers: Based on the data fetched from your pre-recorded sales calls and integrated CRM, you get a holistic view of your customers and insights into their buying process - which you can then leverage to create the right buyer personas.
  • Automated note-taking and transcription: Once you start interviewing your buyer, be there. Let your Wingman handle the nitty-gritty of mundane tasks like note-making and transcription.
  • Live assistance: It doesn’t get over at creating buyer personas. When you begin your prospecting journey, Wingman helps you with actionable insights and live on-call assistance to ace your sales calls and close more deals.

Wingman stays with you through those cold calling days and helps you make the right decision in real-time. It helps you measure the health of your sales pipeline and team performance with actionable insights into your teams’ deals and growth. Sounds too good to be true? Book a demo today and see for yourself!

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