In this segment of the Buyer Persona 2.0 series I would like to talk about an often overlooked aspect of buyer personas. When it comes to finding the disruptive edge in B2B sales and marketing, understanding and leveraging buyer goals is paramount. Previously in Buyer Persona 2.0 – Part 1, I reviewed the importance of buyer insight. Without a rigorous effort in buyer insight, getting at the root of buyer goals will be extremely difficult.
The third key tenet of Buyer Persona 2.0 is that there is a confluence of goals by which buyers operate from and use as the basis for making decisions:
As a starting place, it is important to note the differences in goals related to design personas as opposed to buyer personas. When Alan Cooper first introduced personas for design through his landmark book, The Inmates are Running the Asylum in 1999, he described three categories of goals:
· Life Goals: what someone hope to achieve in life
· Experience Goals: what someone may hope to experience
· End Goals: what someone may hope to accomplish as an end result
When designing a product or service, gaining insight and leveraging these types of goals can lead to a well designed product. However, how well they translate to buyer personas and are they sufficient are essential questions. In it of themselves, just focusing on these goals will not lead to the disruptive edge sought when creating buyer personas. They can be helpful but will seem out of context in a buying environment. These types of goals are significant when the focus is on product usage and understanding the end result a user is attempting to achieve. Perhaps of critical importance is that senior leaders, many who may come from sales and marketing will not be able to grasp the strategic aspects of buyer personas and will relegate their use to the “product” area.
In our world of buyer personas, the intersection of three areas of goals can lead to the disruptive insight that can help propel a business entity to gain the competitive edge. These being:
· Career Goals: this is the place to encapsulate the pertinent goals related to design whereby they are framed in a career and B2B context
· Business Goals: the goals of the organization play a major role in shaping an understanding of goals related to buyer personas
· Market Goals: whether stated implicitly or explicitly, the goals of the market are a driving force which, if not grasped, can lead to poor decisions in sales and marketing operations
The converged intersection of these goals allow for the disruptive insight that companies can achieve through Buyer Persona 2.0:
On the surface, these categories may seem simple. However, these goals often can be unarticulated in an understandable and insightful way. There have been many times whereby we’ve read strategic documents and found that the disparity between the written word and the articulated expressed in interviews were miles apart. As noted in Buyer Persona 2.0-Part 1, it takes a skillful set of attributes and experience to decipher the peeled back layers of these goals. A simple example may help illustrate:
In an interesting engagement we undertook, we found a convergence of business and market goals that related to research and development. The importance of R&D spending in shaping buying decisions was an unarticulated insight that did not show up in any written documents from the buyers themselves as well as our client’s own sales and marketing. Nor did it show up in the company’s extensive use of customer satisfaction surveys as well as win/loss analysis calls that were made. In fact, the company made a decision a few years back to deemphasize R&D in their marketing messaging. This directly correlated to a loss in revenues for buyers had business goals specific to innovation and there was an implied market goal of maintaining a high standard of R&D investments. The newly crafted buyer personas and the associated insights surrounding R&D spending provided the company a means for reorienting sales and marketing efforts to portray their focus in this area - leading to a reversal of losses and recapturing of market share.
One of the misconceptions or rather misinterpreted use of buyer personas I have found in the past few years is in putting a buyer persona “face” on existing selling models and methodologies. While this can be helpful, I believe this approach misses the point about how buyer personas can find a seat in the board room. Putting a buyer persona “face” on existing understanding and terminologies such as pain points, needs, value propositions, selling propositions, solutions, and etc. can create a dangerous mix of accelerating the bad. While this approach can improve sales and marketing effectiveness and understanding of buyers, it does not pave the way to the disruptive buyer insights that leads to a quantum leap in competitive advantages.
Understanding and leveraging buyer goals can help an organization achieve unmatched organizational as well as market advantages. In the example provided, thousands and thousands of dollars were spent on marketing literature and campaigns. Much of which was going to waste for they did not address a crucial aspect of the buying process as well as attitudes – R&D spending. Leveraging a deep understanding of buyer goals portrayed through well crafted buyer personas can help companies to develop highly efficient as well as targeted efforts that map back to buyers precisely.
Next: Buyer Persona 2.0 – Part 4