Successful Sales and Marketing Alignment, Part 2: Understand the Buyer

Successful Sales and Marketing Alignment Part 2 Understand the Buyer FI Successful Sales and Marketing Alignment, Part 2: Understand the Buyer

Here’s an overview of eight basic steps you should take to help figure out who your best customers are, and what path they are most likely to follow when buying from you.

1. Look at data to determine your best prospects.

Begin the process by looking at data for your current customers. Try to find customer segments that are the most valuable to you by looking at revenue, gross margin, and sales cycle length.

It’s good if you have multiple segments that are distinctly different from each other. That means you need fewer general-purpose assets, and lets you create content that’s targeted more tightly to a specific segment.

2. Look for common traits.

Analyze the list of high-value customers by searching for common characteristics: company size, location, the buyer’s role, and industry type are all examples of possible common features.

3. Meet with individual sales reps to get anecdotal feedback on the data.

In most cases, the data will tell you enough to determine your initial profile of the target buyer, but sales has to agree. Meet with sales leaders and get their input on these buyer personas. Don’t underestimate what the reps learn on the front lines. Agreement may take several conversations and drafts.

4. Determine whether marketing can generate leads for these buyer types or accounts.

Before finalizing the accounts and/or personas you’ll focus on, make sure you’ve agreed on accounts and buyers that you can actually market to.

If you choose a persona that is very difficult to attract, or accounts in an industry that’s suffering a severe downturn, marketing won’t be able to deliver on the requisite number of leads, and the entire sales and marketing process will falter.

5. Map the buying process of your target personas.

After you have created your personas, outline the steps a buyer takes from their initial state of discovering the need to make a change, to what they do after they purchase your product or service. This insight into the buying process will allow you to create highly effective sales and marketing messaging, programs, and processes. For example, many companies create content for each stage in the buying process to first attract the buyer, then to help the buyer move to the next stage in their process.

6. Publish (internally) your findings.

Once the target buyer personas, journey, and attendant messages are agreed upon, you need to distribute them to sales and marketing to ensure that everyone is targeting the same buyers with the same messaging, at the same stage.

7. Optimize the target buyer persona definitions quarterly.

Each quarter, sales and marketing should evaluate the current buyer personas and account profiles by leveraging data and anecdotal feedback to determine effective they are. Sales and marketing should also look at any new data to identify opportunities to create new personas or account types.

For example, a company that targets small businesses might find that they are starting to close more business with larger companies. They might decide to create an additional target account profile, as a result, so they can optimize this new opportunity.

Keep up with this; the market is dynamic and your personas will change over time.

8. Test new buyer personas.

Companies often need to test new buyer personas as they enter new markets. In this case, sales and marketing should agree on the number of test personas and the frequency of the testing. The key is to test likely new personas without disrupting your current efforts.

Did you miss part 1? Catch up here:

Successful Sales and Marketing Alignment, Part 1: Get Started

Stay tuned for the next blog post in this sales and marketing alignment series, where you’ll learn how to design the lead process.

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