In the late 90s, I learnt something interesting from the marketing legend, Jay Abraham.
There are three ways to grow a business…
- Increase the number of clients
- Increase the frequency of interactions
- Increase the value/price of interactions
#1 is undoubtedly the worst option because, while increasing your gross revenue, it increases your profit only marginally but your operational costs quite a bit. Every 1% sales increase adds only 2.3% to your bottom line.
#2 is better because it’s repeat business, so you don’t have high marketing costs. Although your cost is still pretty high.
#3 is the real goldmine. Every 1% price increase adds as much as 11.7% to your net profit. And that’s definitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, even if the Canadian Sausage Council, the Association for Gravestone Studies or the American Dehydrated Onion & Garlic Association disagrees.
The percentage values are from a McKinsey & Co. study (The Leverage of Price and Profit Source: Michael Marn and Robert Roriello, “Managing Price, Gaining Profit,” Harvard Business Review (September–October 1992): 85.)
You can pull #1 and #2 off by being, using the late Zig Ziglar’s words, a wandering generality, but to pull #3 off, you have to be, again in Zig’s words, a meaningful specific.
And this is where a clear buyer persona can help you in multiple ways, including but not limited to…
More Effective Sales Call Preparation
When you have an accurate buyer persona, you can highly personalize your questions at sales meetings beyond standard customization.
You know how to communicate with prospects in the most effective manner. You can match the sub-modality (auditory, kinaesthetic or visual) of your questions to prospects’ sub-modalities, which can significantly increase prospects’ progress in the sales funnel.
In a way, it’s like fishing. If you know what you want to catch, you select the bait and the location accordingly. If you want to catch sharks, you go to the sea and bait your hook with a hunk of meat.
Your offer becomes extremely qualified for sharks but extremely unqualified for carp.
And the uniform persona keeps your sales calls consistent, so when you evaluate your calls, you compare apples to apples.
Shorter Seek-Find Cycle
The more narrowly you can define what you’re looking for, the sooner you can find it. Why? Because the system you build to find it will ignore everything else.
Unlike humans, systems don’t suffer from bright shiny object syndrome, so they blissfully ignore everything that is outside its parameters.
For instance, if you do inbound marketing and your target market is blacksmiths, your system ignores whitesmiths, gunsmiths, locksmiths, swordsmiths, arrow smiths, wordsmiths, goldsmiths and even granny smiths.
Your system moves forward like a turbo-charged racehorse with blinkers until it finds the next blacksmith with the pre-programmed parameters.
Salespeople tend to waste a tremendous amount of time and effort on not knowing who exactly their clients are.
The more definite your buyer persona is, the easier time both your people and systems have to locate them and deliver your offer to them.
Larger Steps to Move Forwards Inside the Sales Funnel
With an exact buyer persona, you can customize and personalize your content to the nth degree, and the more relevant content makes it possible for prospects to advance in your funnel in bigger steps.
Every piece of personalized content has a pretty strong nudging power to spur prospects forward towards the end of the funnel; the decision-making point.
Imagine how much faster you could have completed the 12 years of grade school if all the other students had been exactly like you in terms of IQ, learning style, dedication, etc. Would it have been six or eight years? Maybe fewer?
The more specific your buyer persona is, the more quickly prospects can go from first contact to signed contract.
Not to mention that your CAC (customer acquisition cost) is significantly reduced and you can close the sale without discounts or other concessions.
Persona Allows You to Better Understand Your Target Market’s Psychographics
No matter how much you know about the demographics of your b2b market, unless you know its psychographics, you’re chasing a black cat in a dark room with a blindfold over your eyes.
The real marketing information lies much more in psychographics than in demographics.
Understanding your market at a psychological level allows you to anticipate possible responses and tweak your next steps.
Without that knowledge, marketing becomes guess work, and even if you get the demographics 100% right, you still fall short of hitting your marketing bull’s eye.
But once you have a persona, you can think of that persona in terms of natural talents (Gallup’s Strength finder profile), emotional fortitude (DISC or Myers-Briggs profile) and work style (Kolbe A profile).
This array of profiling allows you to find match you content to, instance, a high D (Dominance on DISC) implementer (Kolbe A) persona.
A DISC high C Kolbe A fact finder of a persona needs a significantly different message.
Your Content Must Be Persona Driven
Just think of the Jackal in the old Frederick Forsyth novel, The Day Of The Jackal.
Ever since he was commissioned to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle, The Jackal spent 71 days to build a very accurate “buyer persona” before firing the supposedly fatal shot, that, well, missed its target.
It shows that no matter how accurate your buyer persona is, you still can miss.
Interestingly, during his presidency, De Gaulle commented that…
“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”
When you have a specific buyer persona, with only one favourite cheese, then it’s easy to tune your content to that persona… especially if you sell cheese.
Clients Buy More Often
With a clear buyer persona, your target market perceives you as a specialist, which improves the quality of relationship between you and your target market.
We also know that it takes at least 5-times more to land a new client than engaging in repeat business with current clients.
The other advantage of repeat business is that you have no marketing costs. You’ve paid your dues to land this client once, and then if you take care of her ongoing requirements, she will be back for more business with you without much marketing cost or effort on your part.
It means that a higher percentage of the revenue form the repeat business slides down to the bottom line.
Fewer Or No Objections
As the saying goes, people buy form people whom they know, like and trust.
The saying also goes that the more accurately you can describe clients’ problems, the more trust you create in buyers that you can solve their problems.
When that happens, the four main objections (no money, no need, no trust, no urgency) are instantly eliminated.
Granted, with lots of hard work and elaborate negotiation, you can eliminate the money, need and urgency issues, but trust is a serious thing. It’s not that easy to recover.
But even if it’s only for the sake of eliminating those three objections, it’s worth marketing towards a specific buyer persona.
Buyers Become the Centre of Your Sales Process
When you have a buyer persona, you can aim small, meaning that the more detailed your buyer persona is, the more precise your aim becomes to address your chose buyer persona’s expensive problems.
It also means that, with a very specific persona, since you can very accurately describe the persona’s problems, putting your business into a poll position to leave your competitors in the dust, while they are busy locating their loosely defined markets in their marketing telescopes.
All in all, while your competitors have the features and benefits of their offers at the centre of their marketing, you can have your buyer personas and their biggest problems.
As a result, your offer is much more refined, allowing your buyers to slide through your sales funnel from contact to contract faster than a speeding bullet on steroids, while progress in your competitors’ funnels is as slow as geriatric somnambulant slug.
Single Grain has made an astute comment about the importance of buyer personas: “If only 1 out of 10 people in your target audience needs your solution, and 9 of them aren’t prospects, you’re wasting 90% of your time and resources.”
This is so appropriate.
If you have a refined target market, you can have a good match with 10% of the people who contact you.
But if you have a buyer persona, you can have a good match with 90% of people. Slight improvement.
Because based on your highly personalized, not merely target market-based, messages, people can select and deselect themselves.
If your “perfect offer” is the proverbial castle, then your messages are the proverbial moats surrounding your castle, making sure only the right people can enter and the wrong people turn around and run away before they drown or get attacked with an odd assortment of bits and bobs, as it sadly happened to King Arthur in the Monty Python And The Holy Grail.
To help you put together your buyer persona or to check your persona against some vital criteria, please read Andrea Chomiczuk’s article, The Persona Strikes Back – if Yoda Were an Inbound Marketer.