Bob is a door-to-door salesperson. It is his first day at work and he arrived late. As a result, he didn’t have the time to go through the buyer personas prepared by his co-workers. But Bob has complete confidence in his persuasive skills. So he goes on to sell his product at the first office.
First office... No Sales
Second office... No Sales
Third office... No Sales
Fourth office... No Sales
Fifth office... No Sales.
By the end of the day…NO SALES!
Bob spent the day selling expense management software in an area where a lot of big brands have subsidiary offices. If he had researched the background of his prospects, he might have realised that the offices he was visiting did not have the decision-making authority required to buy his software. The results might have been different if he had this crucial background information. Bob might have even targeted a different location.
For a salesperson, persuasiveness is imperative, but it is not quite enough. You need sufficient background on the people you are selling so that you can aim your pitch correctly.
What is a buyer persona and why is it important?
A buyer persona helps you to get some understanding of your target customer. When you start a sales process for the first time, you have no clue who your prospect is. A buyer persona creates a picture of your ideal customer in your head, making them more approachable.
Your buyer persona should typically be the starting point of the sales process. It allows you to figure out whether your product/service is something that your potential buyer can use or desire (and in what way) - before you pitch it to them.
When you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can go on to formulate a more effectively targetted sales and marketing strategies. You’ll have a solid foundation and therefore optimize the whole sales process. We have a ready guide on conducting better prospecting, but it is safe to say that your prospecting efforts will go further with buyer personas in hand.
Without the sound foundation presented by buyer personas, you could go drastically wrong. For example, imagine you are a peanut butter seller. Pitching your product to someone who is allergic to peanut butter will be a waste of your time. Time wasted is money wasted.
So before trying to convince someone to purchase a jar of peanut butter you need to ask the prospect, “Are you allergic to peanut butter?”
This is exactly what creating a buyer persona is all about.
To create the perfect buyer persona you need to ask a lot of questions. Some buyer persona questions will vary depending on what your product and mode of selling are, while others are what you might call the bare essentials of a buyer persona and you need to address them no matter what your product is.
30 super important questions you should ask while creating buyer personas
Details about their personal background
Demographic information forms the foundation of your buyer persona template. So, you should get your target customer’s answers to these questions first before diving into more specific ones about their goals and challenges.
For example, imagine that you sell toys for kids between the age group of 5-10 years. Well, you know who your target audience is. But selling directly to a 5-year-old won’t fetch you anything in return. So you need to find parents with children in this age group.
Q1 - What is their age?
Q2 - Which gender group do they belong to?
Q3 - What is their educational background?
Q4 - What is their personal or annual household income?
Q5 - What is the prospect’s marital status?
Q6 - Do they have children? If yes, then how many?
Q7 - Where do they live?
Details about their job and company
Half of your day is spent working irrespective of whether you are a customer or a seller in the current context. That means your prospect’s workplace and role impact most of their experiences and environment. When you get answers to these questions, it becomes relatively easier to identify their biggest challenges and goals.
For example, Sam has been working on an application that connects patients with an available doctor in the neighborhood. A tool that will fetch him a list of doctors in the neighborhood with all their contact details and other relevant information will solve one of his biggest challenges. With this tool, Sam has to simply book an appointment with the selected doctor. Anyone selling such a tool should definitely connect with Sam.
Questions to ask under this category include:
Q8 - What is their job title?
Q9 - What is their industry of work?
Q10 - What is the size and revenue of their company?
Q11 - What does a typical day look like for them?
Q12 - What skills do they have?
Q13 - What tools do they use?
Q14 - What is their seniority level?
Q15 - What is their success metric?
Q16 - How long do they have been working at this job title?
Details about their goals and challenges
A major chunk of the sales team’s effort is concentrated in this section and with good reason. A product/service that helps a prospect reduce their pain points and achieve their goals is more likely to be purchased.
A salesperson who is able to guage the prospect’s goals and challenges and position his product as an easy solution to these, is very likely to bag the deal.
After all, a buyer’s biggest frustrations and desires drive their purchasing decisions. So you need to find people whose goals can be met/ challenges can be overcome with your product (or at least word your pitch in a way that highlights how your product will be useful in overcoming their challenges or meeting their goals).
Even if you have the most amazing sales team which follows the sales prospecting best practices, it won’t help unless you can solve the hurdles in your prospect’s day-to-day lives.
For example, Stan is an editor at a big magazine. He has to edit many articles in a day. A product that will correct the grammar of these articles will save a ton of his time. The seller of such a product quite likely has an interested buyer in Stan. He could nudge Stan towards a positive buying decision by highlighting how Stan would be able to focus on the finer aspects of his job.
Questions you would ask to find out about the goals and challenges of your buyers:
Q17 - What are the personal/career goals of your prospect?
Q18 - What challenges do they face when trying to achieve these goals?
Q19 - How do these challenges affect their life?
Q20 - How will your product solve these challenges?
Q21 - Are they seeking a solution?
Q22 - What factors affect their decision-making process?
Details about their method of learning
Your life would be so much easier if your prospects knew that you are right there, in front of them, with an amazing product/service that could make a big, positive difference in their lives.
Unfortunately, most of the time, they have no idea that you exist unless you make your presence felt. (Sometimes they might even know about your brand or product vaguely, but might what they know to be lost in all the noise from other products - competing and otherwise.)
Either way, if you want your prospect to consider buying your product, you need to find good ways to tell them about it, remind them about it and update them about it.
There are several ways through which your buyer learns about products/service. And you will learn about these ways by understanding how your customer base consumes information.
If your prospect barely reads his/her emails then even the most engaging email marketing strategy won’t work for them. But maybe, s/he is a Medium subscriber, and understanding what kind of blogs they like reading will help the marketing team decide on the right platform for a content marketing strategy targeting this type of buyer.
Ask questions such as:
Q23 - What social media platforms do they use?
Q24 - What kind of content do they like to consume?
Q25 - What is their preferred medium of consumption?
Q26 - Do they read blogs?
Q27 - Are they able to find solutions to their challenges online?
Q28 - Does your prospect attend any webinars, events, or conferences?
Details about their method of purchase
You’ve heard the saying “you can bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink.” Now convincing the horse to drink and bringing it all the way to the water only to arrive there and find that the lake is all dried up or that the water is contaminated. Would you blame the horse if it told you to take a hike and ignored all your attempts at “fixing it”?
An inconvenient purchase experience will drive away your prospects. Understanding your prospect’s prior purchase experiences will help you make sure that the sales team offers them the payment and product delivery options that they find safe and convenient, and that suit company policy.
By asking the interviewees questions about your target audience ‘s purchase preferences you’ll find out whether they met the salesperson online or offline, and how much time they spent with the salesperson.
Q29 - How do they find their vendors?
Q30 - Can you broadly describe your recent purchase?
Armed with these questions, you are all set to grab buyer persona interviews by the horns. Once you have all the data, be sure to use answers from potential customers to streamline the overall sales process.
Buyer personas are even better with Wingman
A buyer persona can help you find the right target. Wingman helps you get some fodder for crafting buyer personas from existing information that salespeople come across during sales calls and pitches.
Moreover, Wingman stands by the sales team in real-time with real-time analysis of how your pitch is going. This means you can course-correct, aim better, and score!
Wingman’s sales insights and metrics enables your sales team to elevate their selling tactics and make improvements where required.
With Wingman, you can achieve your targets without breaking a sweat. Book a demo today and see for yourself!