Using Personas for Prospect Profiles

by Chris Arlen on June 3, 2010

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Personas_for_perfect_prospectsBetter than shooting in the dark, prospect profiles (aka targets or ideal customers) make sales and marketing more successful.

They screen out the undesirable and demote the mediocre, making efforts more effective, optimizing investments and producing more desired results (leads, meetings, bids, sales, etc.).

Traditional profiles are good for bucketing prospects’ demographic criteria, such as:

  • geography – state, MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), zip code
  • prospect company size – revenue, employees, square footage, etc.
  • estimated contract size – annual $s, FTEs, or HPWs (calculated from company size)

Traditional Profiles Stuck on Demographics

However, demographics aren’t the whole picture.

Psychographics (the attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles)  can highlight a true affinity between a contractor and desired future customers, instantly identifying prospects.

Psychographics of people and companies can include:

  • socially conscious (eco-green) or personally ambitious (profits) only
  • prompt payers
  • politically savvy working bureaucratic processes
  • detailed down in the weeds or 50,000 foot visionary
  • open, honest & with integrity
  • fun to work with
  • data-driven or fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants
  • blame-oriented or personally accountable
  • loyal
  • risk averse/tolerant
  • experienced old-hand or arrogant greenhorn
  • people who value your contributions & expertise

Yet these aren’t captured in demographic data.

Profiles target Companies, Not People

Traditional prospect profiles target companies only, not people – and companies aren’t as friendly or accessible as people.

Instinctively people relate to a company as if the company is another person.

Think about how you feel when stuck in a long line to board a plane, or when holding that first, hot cup of Starbucks on a cold morning.

Whatever made you feel that way was definitely human, and since it’s highly unlikely you know the individual, you associate those feelings with that company. Voila! From that point on that company feels like a someone to you (until they do something out of character and you revise your feelings).

That’s a major drawback because traditional profiles aren’t energizing, they aren’t a welcoming beacon.

Keeping Sales People Motivated

Sales people must continually overcome the day-to-day obstacles of convincing prospects to become customers. Anything your firm can do to help them move forward increases sales’ ROI.

That’s what a motivating, energizing profile should do – pull sales people, like an extreme magnet, inexorably towards prospects.

Not just ordinary prospects, but to perfect prospects,  because the point of perfect prospects is that they become perfect customers when sold. Perfect customers are always worth extra effort.

A New Type of Prospecting Profile: Personas

Personas can be a tool for enhancing sales motivation and accuracy towards generating the perfect kind of new business.

Persona3Originally created for software programmers, personas are an archtype of the perfect customer. They’re a fact and story based description that includes psychograpic and demographic data.

Personas are based on data from live prospects and customers.

Through research in surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews, qualitative data forms the basis of the persona’s pyschographics . Quantitative data forms the basis of its demographic data.

Both are combined into a narrative about a specific, fictional, yet representative person. The research identifies the number of personas to be used, but typically there can be 3 to 5 different personas.

A persona works at a company of:

  • a particular size
  • in an industry / market vertical
  • in a geographic area

They work:

  • in a specific position/role
  • overseeing a service contract of a certain size
  • employing a type of contractor -or- in-house staff
  • within a budgeting / bidding cycle & schedule
  • in a company culture of A/P & reporting practices

The persona also includes descriptions of their personal and job-related:

  • goals
  • motivators
  • objectives
  • personal profile

Additionally, the persona includes:

  • a picture
  • quotes
  • anecdotes
  • personal stories

3 Powerful Reasons to use Personas

Personas used to profile perfect prospects deliver three key benefits.

#1 Glitteringly Clear Picture

Using personas presents diamond like clarity for targeting perfect prospects.

Personas enable our minds powerful ability to pull partial information about people and then create a coherent bigger picture, which can then be projected into new situations.

This is exactly what profiles should do – point prospecting efforts unequivocably towards perfect prospects.

#2 Energizing the Quest

Personas provide sales people a warmer, welcoming target to go out and seek. That keeps them at it.

When sales people are looking for someone they like and who likes them, they’re more confident. This helps get novice sales people over the starting hump and reinforces experienced sales people to continue.

It’s like looking for a known friend out there amongst strangers.

#3 Multiplying the Uses

In addition to prospecting activities, personas guide marketing and social networking efforts as well.

Personas provide a specific target audience for developing marketing messages. Think how much easier and effective copy writing for ads, web sites, and brochures will be when speaking to that perfect reader, the persona.

Personas also provide a process for uncovering where perfect prospects live, work and socialize. That’s developed during the creation of the persona, and shows sales people where they should go to network, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or Chamber of Commerce mixers.

People & their personas make the world go round

For selling and marketing it’s all about people: prospects, customers and sales staff.

Using personas makes the early out reach efforts clearer and more enjoyable, which for sales people means more likely they’ll continue doing it well year after year.

Good luck.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chris Arlen
President, Revenue IQ

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