Avoid spinning your wheels with these 7 tools for creating B2B buyer personas you can use.
So you’re ready to start building out personas to support your inbound marketing strategy?
Here are seven tools you can leverage to fill in the blanks on your buyer personas.1. Your Sales Team
Yes, your sales team has some of the best insights into potential customers. They just might not realize it. Talk to them, but think like an investigative reporter when you do.
Avoid asking them overly broad questions like, “What does our ideal customer look like?” Instead, focus questions around frequently heard objections, purchase timing, competitor intelligence, value propositions that resonate.
2. Account Managers
As with the sales team, account reps, day in and day out, deal with customers who once were not customers. They experience the customer in an entirely different moment in the buyer’s journey than does your sales team.
Account managers may better understand the ongoing organizational challenges your potential personas face, and direct feedback on products and services – both good and bad. As with the sales team, you may need to play reporter to draw out this invaluable information.
3. Interview Current Customer / Leads / Prospects
While this is a step that any marketer would find invaluable, it’s also one that often meets with internal resistance. Why? Because the sales team doesn’t want you to scare away deals, and the account managers don’t want you to do any “markety stuff” that confuses the clients they take care of.
It’s a matter of trust.
Ask very, very nicely to listen in on a sales call or client check-up call. Have an account manager facilitate a meeting where the questions you have are presented prior to the call.
You would win the Denamico gold medal if you could actually “job shadow” a customer / prospect – actually seeing them in their natural environments.
Regardless of how you connect with potential and existing customers to inform your persona, there is nothing better than hearing information directly from the horse’s mouth (especially if your persona is an actual talking horse).
4. Scour the Database
You probably have a list already, whether it’s in your Hubspot marketing database, CRM, or email list. Sure, maybe it’s not extensive as an NSA watch list, but it’s got some good stuff.
How did your contacts find you? Which pages on your website have they visited? Which websites referred them to yours? Which content offers did they download?
And, of course, your sales team and account reps have been diligently adding all sorts of useful nuggets for you to mine, not the least of which are typical contact fields like job title, but what about call notes? These can help you uncover trends in specific pain points or even general personality revelations.
5. Career / Professional Sites
Need more insight into what your personas actually do in their jobs? Search the job title on LinkedIn or on job boards like Indeed or CareerBuilder to see specific role descriptions.
LinkedIn results will show you specific people and what they tend to feature on their profiles reveals how they want to be portrayed. But on job sites, you get a sense of employer expectations and the specific duties of the role.
6. Conduct Broad Surveys
Tools like SurveyMonkey have made it easy to collect information from an existing contact list or even to reach out to other similar contacts outside of your network.
The trick is to stimulate participation. One thing to consider is incentivizing this broad audience with the chance to win a gift card. With the right incentive, you also could consider using the survey as a lead generation tool. Imagine featuring your survey in a promoted LinkedIn campaign asking a specific job title to help their colleagues by sharing their experience. (And maybe winning a free fancy coffee.)
Ideally, your survey will integrate with your Hubspot account so you are capturing new information in a central location. And, yes, SurveyMonkey has a native Hubspot integration!
7. Social Media Audience
Your social media audience is in your own backyard. (Not literally. That would be creepy.) But they’re at least close enough to provide low-hanging insights.
Take a look at your followers across platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – wherever your company has a social media presence. Which of your followers represent your buyer persona? Choose five to ten profiles that seem like a good match and then dive in. Read their tweets. See what makes them angry. Discover posts they like and explore the influencers and brands they follow.
In this process, not only will you spot trends for your persona research, you also may identify the most likely places to find your buyer personas, which is extremely helpful when you eventually plan content promotion and remarketing campaigns. How efficient is that?