In my days as vice president of marketing at several technology companies, I distinctly remember how difficult it was for my team of marketing professionals to command the respect of the salespeople in the company. No matter how much product knowledge we had, that wasn’t enough. We were finally successful in doing so, but only by becoming the company experts on our buyers.
The salespeople didn’t care about the brochures we produced or the websites we built. They rarely commented on the email newsletter or the trade shows we spoke at. But by effectively understanding and defining our buyer personas, we shortened the sales cycle for the reps who followed our strategies. Only then did the salespeople offer respect and kudos.
But most sales teams and marketing teams continue to operate out of alignment. The marketers and salespeople question the others’ skills and their commitment to the job. They fight over the quality of the leads. I remember hearing of a sales team that snidely referred to the marketing department as the “T-shirt department” because they said all the marketers had accomplished was the production of T-shirts imprinted with the company logo. Others call the marketing department the “branding police.”
Marketers, in turn, complain about how the materials they produce fail to be used by the salespeople. They bitch and moan because the sales leads they generate are left untouched, claiming that sales staffers are too lazy to pick up the telephone.
Think about your own organization’s last launch event. Were the salespeople hanging on every word as the marketers described the features of the latest product, service, or product marketing plans? If you’re like most people I speak with (if they are honest), the salespeople were bored, probably poking at their smartphones instead of paying attention.
But, if you delivered a talk to the salespeople about each of your important buyer personas, that would get their attention!
Buyer Personas: The foundation of sales and marketing strategy
Here are some recent blog posts I’ve written to get you going with the idea of buyer personas.
My book The New Rules of Marketing and PR - an international bestseller now in a new 6th edition with more than 375,000 copies sold in English and available in 29 languages from Albanian to Vietnamese - has a chapter on buyer personas and the strategies in the book use an understanding of buyers as the foundation of success.