How To Create B2B Buyer Personas

Without a deep understanding of your prospects, it’s difficult to create effective sales messages. This guide to creating B2B buyer personas will help you to:

  • See through your prospect’s eyes
  • Learn about what your prospects value
  • Discover opportunities to get in front of your prospects

What is a B2B Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a generic representation of your ideal customer. It includes demographics, education, shopping habits, and learning styles. Buyer personas provide critical details for creating effective, empathetic sales and marketing messages.

Think of three ideal prospects in your target market. Use them to answer the questions below.

Who Are Your B2B Buyer Personas?

Demographics

  • How old are they?
  • Are they male or female?
  • Where do they live?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have children?
  • What’s their annual household income?

Education

  • What level of education did they complete?
  • Which schools did they attend?
  • What did they study?

Interests

  • What hobbies do they have?
  • What do they spend money on?
  • How do they present themselves? Dress/way of talking/material possessions etc…
  • How would they ideally spend their time?

Personality

  • How religious are they?
  • What are their political beliefs?
  • What causes are they interested in? Environment/human rights/charity etc…

Career

  • Did they study a subject related to their current role?
  • How did they get their current role?
  • Has their career been very traditional or have they switched industries?

Where Do Your B2B Buyer Personas Work?

Industry

  • Which industry is their business in?
  • Which products or services does this business offer?
  • Who are their customers?
  • Are these customers from distinct industries like healthcare or IT?
  • Why do customers value this industry?
  • Why do customers value the prospect’s business?

Industry landscape

  • What challenges is the industry facing?
  • How have new technologies/developments have changed the industry?

Company size

  • How many employees does the company have?
  • How much does the company turnover?
  • How profitable is the company?

Organization structure

  • Who manages them?
  • How is the organization structured?
  • Which decisions are they responsible for?

Role and responsibilities

  • What is their job title?
  • What are their key responsibilities?
  • How long have they been in the role?
  • Do they work in a team or mainly alone?
  • How good is their technical knowledge of your product and your industry?
  • Are they in it for the money or are they passionate about the role?

Skills and training

  • What training is required to do their job?
  • What type of personality is ideally suited to this work and why?

Tools

  • Which tools do they use every day or week?
  • Why do they use these tools? What superpowers do these tools give them?

Work environment

  • What time do they get to work and what time do they leave?
  • What does their work environment look like?
  • Are they on-call outside of office hours?

What Problems Do Your B2B Buyer Personas Face?

Role

  • What are the biggest challenges in their role?
  • What targets do they have to meet?
  • What are they in short supply of? Time/money/manpower/education/emotional support etc…
  • If they could choose one superpower to help them with their role what would it be?

Career

  • What does success look like for their role?
  • How will they get promoted?

How Do Your B2B Buyer Personas Learn?

  • How do they learn about their job and industry? (events/online courses/Google/newsletters/co-workers etc…)
  • Which industry experts do they follow?
  • Which news sources do they read?
  • Who do they trust?
  • Where are they present online?
  • Which associations or networks do they participate in?

How Do Your B2B Buyer Personas Shop?

  • Do they buy spontaneously or do they conduct extensive research?
  • How do they research your product/service? Online/ask a friend/trade magazine etc…
  • How do they prefer to communicate with salespeople?
  • What does their ideal sales experience look like?

What Type Of Negotiator Are They?

The rubric below was developed by FBI negotiator Chris Voss. By identifying your prospect’s personality type you can deliver information in the form they prefer. This makes them feel understood, opening the door for cooperation.

1. Assertive

The assertive cares about being heard. They need mutual respect. They see themselves as honest, logical, and direct. Others may see them as harsh, aggressive, and emotional.

The accommodator cares about building relationships. They see themselves as congenial, personable, conversational, and relationship-focused. Others may see them as very talkative and friendly.

Their instinct is to use time to build relationships.

Characteristics:

  • Perfecting the solution is less important than getting it done
  • Loves winning above all else
  • Most likely to get tunnel-vision
  • If you focus on one goal, you miss opportunities to explore options
  • Emotions can cloud decision-making faculties
  • View negotiations as intellectual sparring
  • Focus first on what they have to say. They’ll only listen if they’re convinced you understand them

Tools to use:

  • Mirrors – when they end a sentence repeat the last 2-3 words they said. This will get them to expand on what they were saying.
  • Summarise what they have just said. This will make them feel heard.

How they view reciprocity:

  • Giving – give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile
  • Receiving – if they give up something, they are counting the seconds until they get something of equal or more value

When things go wrong:

  • Invite them to re-engage

2. Accommodator

The accommodator cares about building relationships. They see themselves as congenial, personable, conversational, and relationship-focused. Others may see them as very talkative and friendly.

Their instinct is to use time to build relationships.

Characteristics:

  • Happy when communicating
  • Sociable, peace-seeking, optimistic
  • Distractable, poor time managers
  • Watch tone and body language – they won’t express hesitancy in words
  • Overpromises: may agree to give something they cannot actually deliver

Tools to use:

  • What and How questions focused on the process of implementation
  • How will bringing in our solution effect your current setup?
  • What’s the best way to gather your team from training?

How they view reciprocity:

  • Giving – they are likely to give up something first. Their giving is not motivated by receiving.
  • Receiving – they are flattered and take it as confirmation of a positive relationship.

When things go wrong:

  • They go silent. Their silence indicates anger
  • Apologise. Use “I’m sorry”.

3. Analyst

The analyst cares about acquiring facts and info. They see themselves as realistic, smart, and prepared. Others may see them as cold and standoffish.

Their instinct is to use time to think. Give them space to think and respond. Don’t rush to fill in silences which might feel awkward.

Characteristics:

  • Methodical & diligent. Hates surprises
  • Self-image tied to minimizing mistakes
  • Prefers to work on their own
  • Reserved problem solver
  • Information aggregator
  • Skeptical by nature
  • May appear to agree when just agreeing to think about it
  • Slow to answer calibrated questions
  • Apologies have little value

Tools to use:

  • Data – always back up your reasoning and explanations
  • Comparisons – provide clear, logical analysis for them to study
  • Disagreements – use data to back up why you disagree

How they view reciprocity:

  • Giving – they only give up things they’ve already thought long and hard about
  • Receiving – when they receive first, they think it must be a trap

When things go wrong:

  • Show them that you’ve made progress on the issue you were discussing

What Do Your B2B Buyer Personas Value?

By answering these questions you’ve built a good understanding of your buyer persona. Now you’re in a position to answer the fundamental questions that will inform your sales and market strategy.

Give Them Superpowers

Which superpowers does your solution give prospects?

Answering this question can help you quickly describe the value your company adds.

  • It helps them sell more
  • It saves them time
  • It makes them faster
  • It makes their team happier
  • It increases collaboration

Expand on this. Why are these superpowers important? Why is your solution better than others?

The Challenger Sale

The Challenger Sale (book here) recommends adding value while steering prospects to your solution. This approach has drawn widespread acclaim from sales professionals.

What does the buyer value in a vendor? When they compare vendors, which key points do they look at?

  • Price
  • Speed
  • Longevity
  • Time savings
  • Accuracy
  • Build quality
  • Service and support

Which of these criteria is a strength for your company but currently undervalued by the prospect?

This is your key talking point. By creating sales and marketing messages around this point, you can frame the conversation in a way highlights the strengths of your solution. You can educate prospects about why this is an essential point to consider when buying. Use the questions below to develop this idea:

  • Why should this be more important?
  • What are they missing out on by not taking it more seriously?
  • Why does your company do this better than anyone else?

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