Adele Revella is the CEO of Buyer Personas Institute and author of "Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into Your Customers Expectations, Align Marketing Strategies and Win More Business."
Her book also happens to be in the "Top Five Business Books" by Fortune magazine.
Adele's unique perspective is derived from decades as a sales and marketing trainer, researcher, and entrepreneur.
On the podcast, she discusses some of the ways that buyer personas influence sales.
How Do Buyer Personas Influence Sales?When Adele was working as a sales rep, she discovered that listening carefully to the buyer and figuring out exactly what he or she wanted was the key to her success. She would ingest all that information, then refocus it back at them, thus telling them what they want to hear.
After that, they're far more susceptible to conducting business.
The problem that many people have with extending this concept to marketing is that marketers don't have the people skills that salespeople do.
Nonetheless, Adele wondered if she could apply her one-on-one technique to figuring out what people want from marketing, then give it to them. So, she started her own company and began training marketers to pay attention to the needs and wants of the consumers.
How Do You Figure Out What Buyers Want?Now you know why it's important to listen to your buyers, but how do you pinpoint their precise wants?
The simplest answer is to ask them.
But you still have to get them comfortable and willing to open up.
What Adele found when she and her company interviewed a large number of buyers is that it's not actually about price or features. Once the buyers start opening up a bit more, they revealed that it's all about value.
Should You Ask Buyers About Products or Their Experience?Adele finds that it's more comprehensive to ask customers about the ideal experience they're looking for. Theoretically, this would also include the product.
When you get right down to it, buyers are interested in fixing something or trying to make something better.
If you're worried about any biases creeping in, Adele suggests doing the interviews so the buyers don't know who the client is and the client doesn't know who was interviewed. This anonymity helps the buyer to open up.
Biases can also arise in situations where there's more than one buyer present, such as focus groups. Human nature kicks in and buyers will begin changing their opinions based on the others in the room.
It's also important not to ask loaded questions that have a predetermined answer.
In Adele's experience, she found that buyers are frustrated about the buying experience. And when someone is frustrated about something, they welcome any opportunity to talk about it and vent their opinions.
This is immediately going to bear fruit, partly because it's a human conversation, not a survey or a script, which people are liable to take seriously.
Who Should Be the One Conducting the Interviews?It can't be the sales rep, Adele stresses. It needs to be someone in marketing, even if it is a third party.
Buyers are said to be engaged with sales and marketing with the vendor for 32% of their journey. As for the other 68%, you have no idea what's going on. This is what you need to get to the bottom of.
To get this information, you need an unbiased listener -- a salesperson who has not come off well to a buyer -- and, as a result, the buyer would withhold information.
A marketing person is more interested in the buyer's opinions and behaviors than selling them something, and a buyer can sniff that out.
Which Buyers Make for the Best Interviews?Buyers who are breaking the status quo are particularly valuable, Adele says.
These are people who have decided to funnel their energy away from the other aspects of their life into purchases something. They had to get out of their comfort zone, find the budget and find the time to make something happen.
Working with recruiting partners is a sure way to find buyers, as they have databases filled with people. All you have to do is pay the company for 30 minutes of discussion with someone in their database.
Sometimes, you can use LinkedIn campaigns to find buyers, as well.
If someone is particularly unwilling, it's perfectly fine to pay them something for their time.
How Do You Align the Sales and Marketing Teams?Because the marketing and sales teams are often at odds with one another, Adele believes that the roles of both teams should be more clearly defined.
The marketing team is what gets the customer in the door, and the sales team is what gets the customers to make a purchase.
If the roles were clearly defined as such, then the teams can focus on working together, as opposed to working against each other.
Are There Other Ways to Get Information from Buyers?While speaking to buyers personally is a great way to get information, there are other ways.
For instance, if you have fellow employees who work with customers on a personal basis, such as plumbers or electricians, then you should talk to them about the customers. After all, they've spent more time dealing with them than you have.
However, this information shouldn't make up the entirety of your profile on the buyers. Speaking one-on-one is still the best way to get the most comprehensive picture.
Where Can You Learn More About Adele Revella?For more information on Adele Revella's business, you can visit her company's website, Buyerpersona.com.
You can find her book, "Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into Your Customers Expectations, Align Marketing Strategies and Win More Business," on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Adele can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.