Associate Director of Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K
May 5th, 2016
I have a confession.
I hate making phone calls-- especially when I don't know who I am calling.
Activating credit cards, calling tech support; there's something about not knowing who I'm going to get on the other end of the line during these little moments that just fills me with dread.
What makes them easier, however, is knowing what to expect; knowing who will my audience will be and how they will react, if I'll get someone friendly and expressive or someone stoic and guarded.
In inbound marketing, we find and house this kind of background information (and in turn, avoid awkward, unprepared sales conversations) thanks to buyer personas.
Fact: Everyone Needs Buyer Personas.
Without buyer personas, your marketing is likely to lack focus and fail to make a strong connection with your ideal prospects (at least intentionally).
This puts all of the pressure on your sales reps to shape your brand image and explain why your company is the right choice on top of actually closing the deal. Your best sales reps will welcome the challenge, but realistically this doesn't setup your sales team for success. That's where sales enablement comes in.
You'll get a different definition from each person you ask, but, simply put, sales enablement is just the application of strategies and processes that allow your sales team to do their job better.
Every member and aspect of your organization relies on your sales performance, so it makes sense to aid your sales team wherever possible.
There's a lot you can do to improve sales enablement, but the first thing you want to do is ensure that you've got the fundamentals in place and the most fundamental component of inbound marketing is the creation of buyer personas.
Here are three reasons why creating them is the first step in sales enablement.
1. They Help You Create the Right TOFU Content
A healthy sales process begins with great content marketing.
When people are looking to solve a problem or improve a situation, they head to Google to deliver the answers they need.
Ideally, from there they find your content and your relationship begins.
In most instances, they read a blog article and if they liked it they read a few more. Once you've established in their mind that your company is a trusted source of knowledge, they might subscribe or convert on a free eBook or another offer
At that point, they enter your funnel and the qualification process begins.
As you continue to nurture your new lead, they move down your marketing funnel. After performing a set of desirable actions your lead's score reaches a point where they are most likely to make a purchase and your sales team steps in.
Before they ever speak with a sales rep,however, chances are they've already formed an opinion about your brand from the content they've consumed. The foundation has already been laid, the first impression made, and that will play a big role in how warm they are to your sales team.
The impression a lead develops from your content will greatly depend on how well that content targets your buyer persona and if they are in fact a buyer persona for your brand.
You can't create great blog content without a buyer persona. Well, technically you can, but you can't create content that your ideal customer loves if you don't know who your ideal customer is.
You might create content to target particular keywords or a current trend -- both good ideas -- but your content has to target people above everything else. Robots will scan your content for search engines, but only humans make a purchase.
How can blog content enable sales? It can:
Answer common questions in the sales process
Address common rebuttals or areas of concern from prospects
Pitch your brand's value proposition
Educate prospects about your product or service
Which questions and concerns do you create content for?Consider the ones brought up by sales qualified leads that are now your best customers. They are your buyer persona.
By identifying those questions, concerns, and goals that your best customers have in common, you can attract more by publishing content that you know is highly relevant to them and will resonate.
Gated content (or lead magnets) are usually higher-quality offers than your blog articles, that you give away in exchange for contact information from your prospect. (i.e. an eBook, webinar, free trial.)
In most cases, you'll want to create several different gated content items to attract your different personas or individuals at different points of their buying cycle.
Persona-based gated content enables sales in four ways:
It gives them a preview of what you sell, leading them to think: if their free stuff is this good, their paid stuff must be incredible!
It gathers information for lead scoring.
If it's specific enough to your buyer persona, it generates better quality leads.
For this to work well, your gated content should be created only for your buyer persona. As an example, take a look at our free resource Selling Your SaaS. The only people that are going to love this resource are CEOs, founders, and marketing professionals from SaaS companies.
Are you sending the same email campaigns to every lead you generate? Any seasoned inbound marketers knows that this is a big no-no.
Good lead nurturing requires having campaigns customized for each buyer persona. Although these campaigns can be automated, they shouldn't read like they are.
Emails that come off as generic or "spammy" will only annoy your leads and make the sales process more difficult for your sales reps.
Emails that speak the language of your persona and address topics that they genuinely care about, on the other hand, build a connection that enables your sales team to have more success.
2. They Help You Prioritize Leads
The process of qualifying leads is a combination of identifying your buyer personas in the crowd and finding out if they are ready to make a purchase.
Without clear buyer personas your sales team has no parameters for identifying your ideal customers and they have to resort to guessing. The result is a lot of wasted time, both from your sales reps and the time of unqualified leads.
Detailed buyer personas make it very clear to your sales reps who they should prioritize and invest their resources into, making their job much easier.
3. They Help You Create Sales Support Documents
Creating support documents for your sales team is a crucial sales enablement tactic, but the effectiveness of these documents will depend on how relevant they are to your buyer persona.
I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I can't stress enough how vital buyer personas are to your overall marketing and sales success.
Depending on your business, your sales support documents could be presentations, fact sheets, industry reports, along with many other options.
Like your marketing content library, it would be wise to have multiple versions of your documents tailored to different buyer personas.
Speak to their individual needs and their specific goals pertaining to your product or service.
It will take a little bit of work upfront to do this, but with these in hand, your sales reps will have something primed and ready that they can hand off to a lead in a seconds notice.
How to Create a Buyer Persona
It's important to involve your sales team in the process of creating your buyer personas because everything we've discussed comes back full-circle to them.
Sales enablement starts and ends with your buyer persona. Creating one isn't difficult, but you do want to take your time and make sure you get it right.
To create your buyer persona, you want to answer a series of questions such as:
What's their job title?
Are they a decision maker in their company?
How big is their company?
What's their age and gender?
What's their household income?
What problems do they face on a regular basis or face currently?
What would they like to accomplish in the next year?
The best way to do this is through first-hand interviews with your existing customers, but you can also look to social media, studies, and more to help you come up with answers.
If you'd like to go through the process step-by-step on how to build a detailed, effective buyer persona, get our Buyer Persona Kit free. It includes everything you need to know to create buyer personas and trigger a successful sales cycle.
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