There are many different ways to learn about your target segments and buyer personas in order to build the best messaging/content — via customer calls, lost customer calls, trade shows/networking events, articles by industry influencers, etc.
But there’s also a great resource that your marketing department should be taking advantage of — and that resource is close to home! In fact, they’re right there on the other side of the cube: your sales reps!
When I work with the companies in OpenView’s portfolio to build lead qualification programs and the asset packages to support that type of engine, one of my key roles is to interview the members of the sales organization (as well as the senior managers) to learn about the target segment(s), and the buyer(s’) needs, pains, goals, etc. By gathering multiple perspectives, as an unbiased third party, I can pull together the messaging that will have the greatest impact for the new outbound prospectors coming on board.
If marketing can make a habit of meeting with each sales rep once a quarter to learn, learn, learn from the sales reps’ experiences and conversations not only will sales and marketing be that much more aligned (heck, this could even be a real relationship booster — ‘Wow, you actually care about my thoughts and opinions?’), but the content and messaging will truly reflect the needs and pains of the target buyer personas within the target market segment NOW. Not last year, but NOW.
Quick tip: Interview all sales reps individually, not in a group setting (this will allow them to open up more), and you will be able to see if there any discrepancies between the different reps. If there are major discrepancies, this may be helpful to share with with the VP of Sales, as additional coaching/training is likely necessary!
Here are some examples of questions that you can ask your sales reps:
- Can you give me an overview of the target market segments that you cover, and their understanding/adoption of your solution in general?
- What are the best titles to target within this target segment?
- Of these titles, who is the champion? Who is the buyer?
- What are the titles to avoid?
- Could you please describe an example of an opportunity/deal with each of these title/buyer personas?
- What is the key value proposition for each of the target titles/buyer personas?
- What are the key pains they are experiencing that you capitalize on?
- What are their business goals?
- How do the prospects in this segment prefer to be contacted (call, email, linkedin, direct mail, etc.)?
- How does a typical conversation play out when you first engage with a prospect? How do you personally introduce the company/offering to each persona?
- What are the different milestones in the sales process with a prospect in this segment?
- What holds prospects back in each particular point in the sales process?
- What does it take to push them over that hurdle and move on to the next stage in the sales process?
- What are the common objections you typically encounter with each buyer persona?
- What are common questions that prospects typically have right out of the gate when you start explaining your value prop?
- What types of content are each buyer personas most interested in seeing when your first start engaging?
- What type of content could they care less about?
- Can you send me some email templates or LinkedIn messages that have gotten the attention of these personas?
- Who influences these people? What are they reading? What events do you hear them talking about/attending?
The more that your sales and marketing teams can become aligned — the better your targeting and messaging will become. The answers to these questions can help you, as the marketer, build greater content like email drip campaigns/templates, white papers, blog posts, conversation guides, etc.