By Nora Weintraub
You’re most likely aware you can’t go after a huge target market if you want to create successful advertising strategies. But many companies have trouble segmenting their customer base and generating separate marketing materials for each buyer persona they want to pursue. How can you create more relevant and targeted campaigns? By using customer intelligence, your marketing team can effectively segment your customers and have better knowledge of current and prospective clients.
Especially for B2B organizations, persona-based marketing is critical because many different players are involved in the decision-making process. B2B products often apply to very specific niche markets, so there’s no sense in trying to attract everyone. You need to get the most relevant customers interested in your products or services.
Why Do You Need Personas?
Most would-be customers encounter completely generic content when they research new products. Personas are virtual characters and represent a segment of customers with particular demographics, industries or roles within a company. Knowing your customers can help improve marketing, sales and even product development operations, according to an article by Mike Telem in Business 2 Community. You can more accurately define your ideal prospects and discover what really matters to them, helping you create more effective and engaging content.
B2B purchases typically involve a number of people within an organization, and each of these people will have different concerns. Financial executives won’t have the same considerations for new software as IT managers. And the end users of the product will have different concerns. Without targeting based on buyer personas, your marketing team may not be generating the right amount of leads, and the sales team may not be able to achieve significant revenue gains.
Start Using Personas and Get Better Results
Simply personalizing content isn’t enough, Patrick Spenner wrote in Forbes. While personalization can help companies target individuals, it doesn’t give B2B buying much of a boost when four or five people are involved. The more people in the buying group, the less likely you are to effectively engage all of them with the same kind of content.
In addition to needing more people to decide on a solution, people aren’t going to buy something immediately after discovering your product, according to Irakli Beselidze in a separate post for Business 2 Community. B2B buying cycles can last for years. The consequences of making the wrong decision can be disastrous, so buyers take their time and weigh their options. And even after you make the sale, you want to keep in contact with previous customers for when they need to upgrade in the future. This means you need to create content that targets multiple people, not just the executives with the decision-making power.
Some organizations wait for their audience to give clues to who the decision-makers and key influencers are. But companies need to stop doing this and start focusing on buyer personas to generate more effective campaigns. Rather than just launching content and hoping it provides value to someone in the buying cycle, you need to start studying buyer personas through customer analytics. Watch customer behavior while they are going through the different phases of the sales cycle. Since your customers are increasingly growing more knowledgeable and tech-savvy, you need to convert big data analytics into actionable insight. It can help you more effectively reach all the different people involved in the B2B decision-making process.
By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
In today’s world of the empowered customer, it’s no longer an option to just tell people your organization is customer-centric. Your sales reps need to uphold this promise by tailoring their approaches to each prospect or client they meet, and this holds especially true for high-powered executive buyers. If your team is failing to cater to this particular group, your organization could lose business in the blink of an eye. Knowing your customers and meeting their specific needs has never been more important.
In fact, Mark Lindwall of Forrester quoted his colleague, David Cooperstein, in his blog, stating, “It’s no longer sufficient to say that you are simply ‘customer-centric’ or ‘customer-focused.’ The only successful strategy in the age of the customer is to become customer-obsessed—to focus your strategic decisions first and foremost on how your customers expect you to engage them.”
Failing to do so is a critical mistake for your organization. Customers have higher expectations than ever before and if your sales team isn’t meeting its clients on level ground, it can miss the chance to strengthen the relationship.
Are Salespeople Missing the Mark with Executive Buyers?
Your sales reps may leave every meeting feeling like they nailed the pitch, but there’s a good chance this isn’t the case. Forrester surveyed a number of executive buyers, and less than 40 percent said meetings with their representatives fulfill their expectations. Lindwall also noted that only 25 percent of salespeople even have access to executive buyers, which means there are limited possibilities for face-to-face meetings. This gap can cripple sales productivity.
Although companies are funneling money into sales onboarding, training and extra development, the missing crucial element could be empathy. Executives want salespeople to express genuine concern and understanding, and if they don’t, your team is losing opportunities by being out of sync.
Even though customers can empower themselves to make informed decisions, sales reps need to be able to walk in the shoes of their customers to be able to maximize every opportunity. You need to understand how each customer perceives value, risk and cost. At the end of the day, executives aren’t really interested in products—they want something that will solve their companies’ pain points. If your sales representatives go to meetings just to discuss key product features, they probably aren’t talking about the things that are truly important to the client and they may miss the deal.
How to Become Customer-obsessed
1. Use Your CRM Correctly
The more information reps have when they enter the meeting, the more likely they are to deliver the experience the client wants. A simple step like ensuring CRM information is always up to date can make a big difference.
2. Be Responsive, But Keep It Short
Although customer-centricity involves more than just being there when customers need you, your sales reps can’t leave clients hanging. If they can’t respond right away, a short note detailing when they will get in touch can help build trust with executive buyers. However, if you’re getting in touch with these people on your terms, don’t ramble. Voicemails and emails should be short and to the point.
3. Represent Yourself as the Product
Since executives are more interested in problem-solving than products themselves, your salespeople need to create a positive association in the client’s mind. The executive may end up continuing the relationship with the rep for years, so it needs to start by meeting and exceeding expectations.
We recently did a post on good bars for dates with clients. However, we’re hoping that you out-of-towners will have some time to visit the amazing city itself. I’m a born-and-raised San Franciscan, so I’m a little biased; however, I still think it’s the best city in the world (and I’ve lived on the East Coast and abroad—that’s why I came back for good!). Here are my picks for things you must see.
When discussing San Francisco, it’s easiest to talk about the neighborhoods. I like to say that San Francisco isn’t a city with a lot of attractions, per se, but it’s a great place to explore. Of course, it’s got its sights to see (think the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Lombard St.), but the real character is in its extremely varied—and very colorful—neighborhoods. That being said, take some time to sit and people-watch; you won’t be disappointed.
Word to the wise: It’s California, but it’s COLD! San Francisco is known for its fog, and that’s no joke. When planning what to bring with you, think 55 and foggy. Seriously. Layers are your friend.
My first choice for tourists would be North Beach, the Italian quarter. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and is chock-full of delicious restaurants and historic bars (check out Vesuvio—an amazing saloon located next to the famous City Lights bookstore).
As a post-dinner activity, I would also HIGHLY recommend getting tickets for Beach Blanket Babylon. It’s the longest-running musical show in America, and is constantly changing based on current events. It’s an incredible atmosphere, the costumes are outrageous—it’s one-of-a-kind and should NOT be missed if you can help it.
Columbus St. is North Beach’s main drag, and runs all the way from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Financial District. You can start at either end and get an equally good feeling for the neighborhood. Lombard St. (“the crookedest street in the world”) and Coit Tower (atop Telegraph Hill) are within walking distance—but they’re in opposite directions.
Next up is Haight-Ashbury. The home in the 60s to the hippie/counterculture movement, it is STILL the home to the hippie/counterculture movement. There aren’t any attractions, but it’s a great place to wander, again with awesome food and bars (one of my favorite spots in the whole city is here: Magnolia Gastropub). The street is full of secondhand clothing stores and smoke shops, and you can still see lots of tie-dye. The original Amoeba Records store sits at one end, and you can also see the home of Jerry Garcia.
It’s a little bit of a hike from SOMA or the Embarcadero, but well worth it. It’s also situated right next to Golden Gate Park, which is just fabulous.
I would also encourage you to check out Chinatown (always interesting, and the biggest one outside of Asia); The Castro (even if you’re straight, the vibe is really fun—and quintessentially San Francisco); and The Mission (my old stomping grounds and a neighborhood that is decidedly non-touristy. Valencia St., Dolores Park and the world-famous Bi-Rite Ice Creamery).
One last note about the Fisherman’s Wharf area: I honestly think it’s one big tourist trap. However, I wrote this blog posts for tourists, so I will give it a mention. Things that are actually worthwhile to see and do there are: eating chowder in a bread bowl in Fisherman’s Wharf (ok, truth be told, there’s no better place to get seafood in the city); watching the sea lions on Pier 39 (but avoid the rest of Pier 39—it really is purely a tourist trap); getting chocolate at Ghirardelli Square (delicious!).
Have fun exploring the City by the Bay!
Dreamforce brings together salesforce.com users and partner companies from around the world. You’ll meet a ton of great people, be exposed to solutions you never knew existed, and hopefully be able to apply all of that knowledge when you get back to work after the show. But how can Salesforce help you while you’re at Dreamforce?
You can get trained—or certified—on salesforce.com at Dreamforce
You can take one- or two-day, in-depth salesforce.com training classes from the experts (and who better to train you than Salesforce employees?). Class topics range from an introduction to salesforce.com, to moving to the sales cloud, to Apex programming for non-developers.
Also, check out the Campground for the latest and greatest from Salesforce, as well as the best ways to sell, service, market, innovate and succeed.
You can also get salesforce.com certified while at the show! They have 7 certificates to choose from. exams will take place on Monday, November 18, 2013, at the Hilton Union Square.
Click here for more information on how to get trained and certified!
Learn Best Practices
There will be a number of sessions at Dreamforce about best practices on the implementation of salesforce.com for your business—and how you can use it to solve a whole host of problems. For example:
Discover New Apps for your Business
Besides using the #AppThat hashtag to put your app (pipe)dreams out there, someone might have already addressed some (or all) of them! Wander around the Cloud Expo and the AppExchange Partner Zone and learn about what’s available (like FirstRain’s business insight solutions! Booth N1924).
After the Show
You’ve met more people in 5 days than you have in the last quarter. You’ve learned a lot. Now go home and put what you know into action. Upload all those contacts, send out some emails, purchase and implement that product you decided you really need—and get selling!
For more than three years, FirstRain has been delivering big data insights to our Fortune 500 customers through the power of the Salesforce’s Sales Cloud. Today, we are excited to announce an expanded partnership with Salesforce and an upgraded version of FirstRain Customer Insights on their AppExchange.
The more than ten thousand FirstRain enterprise sales and marketing customers that access our service through Sales Cloud will now enjoy an even richer and more deeply embedded customer intelligence experience within salesforce.com. And the deepened relationship between our two companies means enterprise sales and marketing professionals can more effectively tap into the power of social and mobile cloud technologies to accelerate their businesses.
Our expansion into the AppExchange will not force our users to learn a new way of working; FirstRain’s Customer Insights are streamed and embedded directly into the salesforce client to help drive revenue by making every salesperson as informed as your top 10% achievers.