Decision maker? End user? Deal killer? Who’s who in the crowd of equipment purchasers
How to use Personas to organize and prioritize segments within a large buying group
I recently stumbled upon a startling statistic. According to the CEB webinar, Rethinking Customer Understanding, the typical B2B purchase decision involves an average of 6.8 people. Let’s just round that up to seven and say, holy cow! In the age of customer lifecycle marketing, that’s a lot of folks to attract, educate, convert and retain. Especially in categories like heavy equipment where the needs of audience segments vary greatly.
Consider the potential players in the purchase of a front loader for a construction company. From the corporate office to the field to the repair shop, you’re sure to find different brand loyalties and purchase motivations. How do you know what buttons to push and with whom, to start the conversation, let alone to make the sale? More importantly, how do you know who’s ultimately making the decision versus who’s just weighing in?
You can find the answers through the creation of Personas.
Who’s who in the crowd, and more
A carefully crafted Persona is your guide to who’s who in the buying process. Who initiates the purchase? Who signs the check? Who has the potential to kill the entire deal? The answers are clear when you invest time and effort in organizing, analyzing and understanding all parties involved. But roles and responsibilities are just the beginning.
Because Personas are also built around buying behaviors and mindsets, they provide a snapshot of the journey taken to make a decision, including the category biases and beliefs that influence along the way. All of this rich information makes Personas an incredibly valuable, strategic tool for crafting multiple narratives for both marketing and sales.
Beyond demographics and data
According to Tony Zambito, the father of buyer persona methodology, understanding what motivates customers is crucial to establishing rich brand-customer connections, now more than ever before. In his post, Human-Centric Insights: A Matter of Survival in 2020, he states, “Living in a data-driven world day in and day out can make it easy to lose sight of the importance of understanding human elements that do not show up in data alone.”
He goes on to stress the importance of understanding individual decision-making when many stakeholders are involved. All the more reason to really dig into each audience segment and learn the why’s that drive their decisions.
Start smart, dig deep
So, how do you dig into the CEO’s omni-operational POV on cost versus the fleet manager’s focus on efficiency? Well, first you have to have the right questions to guide you through your research. At R+K, we use our own B2B Persona Questionnaire as a framework.
Next, get your hands on as much information as possible about each audience segment. For this, there are many formal options, including primary and secondary research. Of course, there are other paths to learning that require less budget. If a full-blown segmentation study isn’t in your current plan, here are a few ways to spark conversations, gather feedback and gain customer insights.
Customer or Dealer Interviews
One-on-one engagement between sales reps and current customers or dealers can reveal valuable insights while also helping to strengthen relationships
Customer Advisory Board
Loyal customers are usually pretty candid with their feedback and can provide you with plenty of category, brand and product insights
Sales Rep Feedback
Who better to provide input on the anatomy of a sale, and its many players, than those who live it every day?
Social Media Listening
LinkedIn groups are a great way to track who’s talking about what, while Cision, Buzzsumo, SEM Rush and Google trends can also provide insight into trending topics and search terms
Creating strong Personas is a process that requires curiosity, rigor and a good amount of critical thinking. When done well, they are an invaluable tool for OEM marketers facing the challenges of engaging multiple purchase stakeholders.
Martha Porter Fiszer, SVP Executive Creative Director at Rhea + Kaiser, upholds that great ideas start with rich customer insights