Buyer personas are imagined, generalized representations of your ideal customers based off of research. Personas help internal departments within your organization (marketing, sales, product, services) envision the ideal customer you’re trying to attract and design programs, products, processes and services based around the persona, instead of around yourself.
Having a deep understanding of your buyer is critical to making the case for B2B eCommerce in your business. With the right research and data in front of your stakeholders, it’s easy to tell the story about what your buyers are demanding, the direction the industry is moving, and how an online ordering platform will allow you to stand-out above the competition in such a way that your buyers will gravitate towards you.
How exactly do you go about creating a B2B buyer persona?
Here are 5 steps to create a B2B buyer persona that will help you gain B2B eCommerce sponsorship and buy-in from your stakeholders:
1. Conduct interviews to find out more about the types of individuals and businesses that you serve.
- Customers (both “good ones” and “bad ones”): Customers like being heard, and interviewing them gives them a chance to tell you about their world, challenges and opinions of your product, service and/or processes.
- Prospects: Gather data and information from individuals you’ve met at conferences or trade shows, past conversations, lead forms or analytics.
- Referrals: If you’re heading into a new market, this audience is particularly important. Reach out to your network (co-workers, existing customers, social media, etc.) and have them identify potential individuals who would be willing to have a conversation with you. Ask them questions about their needs, wants, challenges and opportunities as it relates to the product or service you sell.
- Third-Party Networks or Individuals: Use a source like UserTesting.com, or even your neighbors, friends or previous colleagues, to gain some outsider perspective on opinions or thoughts on your business.
Identify trends in your industry and think about how they are affecting your buyers’ behaviors:
- Mobile: 74% of today’s B2B buyers are researching at least half of their work purchases online (Forrester, 2015)
- Data Analytics: According to McKinsey, companies that inject data and analytics into their operations, experience productivity and profitability gains that are 5-6% higher than their competition.
- Omni-Channel: Suppliers’ biggest challenge in selling and distributing to omni-channel retailers is the ability to manage inventory across multiple locations, and know the status of inventory at physical stores and on e-Commerce platforms (Internet Retailer).
- Social: 93% of B2B Marketers say they are using content marketing to engage with their buyers (Kiss Metrics).
- Enterprise Digital Transformation: The digital capabilities of an organization will increasingly determine which companies create or lose value (McKinsey).
- Cloud-Based SaaS: Spend on cloud-computing infrastructure and platforms is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years (Forbes)
3. Based on your interviews and research, draw some conclusions about your buyer persona’s demographic information and motivations
- Background: What is their typical job or career path?
- Demographics: Are they male or female? Age? Income? Geography?
- Identifiers: Communication preferences? Technology preferences?
- Goals: Business? Personal?
- Challenges: Keeping up with changes in technology? Responding to buyers’ demands?
4. Use data from existing technologies to discover purchasing habits and behaviors.
Dig deep into analytics on your website, social media, a CRM system, or any other technology platforms you are using to manage or communicate with prospects and/or customers.
5. “Draw a picture” of this B2B buyer persona.
This can be done either literally or through a presentation, that allows you to educate your stakeholders on the buyer you are making technology purchase decisions around. Use your research and data as proof points to help gain buy-in and sponsorship from these stakeholders.
Creating a buyer persona will allow you to organize your case for B2B eCommerce around the needs and demands of your buyers instead of around yourself and your team, making it easier for stakeholders to understand the business objective behind the decision.