Teasing the Hairball Out of Your Head
I recently attended a Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) workshop where Tamara Adlin shared her expertise in building buyer personas. If you’ve never met Tamara, she’s a straight-talking, take-no-prisoners kind of gal. As each member of the group introduced themselves and gave a brief overview of their experience with building personas, Tamara became increasingly excited and finally pronounced, “I can’t stand it any more. I need to start talking!” And we were all glad she did, because her expertise in building and using personas is first rate.
One of the gems Tamara left us with is the importance of getting assumptions about who important buyers are out of people’s heads and onto the table, a process she likened to “teasing the hairball” out of our minds. Most people at all levels of the organization believe they know who their typical buyers are.
It’s just a matter of describing “Snazzy Suzy” or “Mary Beth Mom.” Getting executives to participate in the “barfing out the hairball” process is important, partly because it allows their internal ‘herd’ of buyers to be grouped or merged later in the process. Because they were part of the process, executives know that their own “important buyers” and their characteristics are embedded in the final personas.
Another key theme Tamara returned to throughout the session was the lack of communication throughout most organizations. Business goals are fuzzy but underlings are afraid to seek clarity for fear of appearing “stupid” and engaging in career suicide. Often, business goals tend toward phrases such as, “We need to increase revenues and decrease costs.” Instead, hard numbers must be assigned, such as, “We need to grow our widget sales by 20 percent in North America over the next 12 months.”
The good news, according to Tamara, is that personas can help solve the fuzziness around business goals. How? Building personas starts with understanding business goals, forcing executives to get clear on important goals in measurable terms. In turn, these goals can be clearly communicated to the rest of the organization, allowing underlings to aggressively work toward specific goals and know when they’ve met them.
Finding Key Elements of Buyer Persona Creation
At Primary Intelligence, we’re focused on B2B buyer personas as they relate to competitive sales opportunities and customer retention strategies. Key elements of our buyer persona creation process include describing the buyer’s goals, outlining their specific priorities and business challenges, and highlighting perceived barriers that may surface to prevent a purchase. Also important are understanding key decision criteria and knowing the buyer’s decision making process. Clearly enunciating ways in which a solution can solve the persona’s specific needs is also critical.
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