The majority of revenue leaders right now are feeling the squeeze of a bad Q1 and a grim-looking Q2. If this statement resonates with you, chances are that you are looking for ways to move the needle on the deals in your pipeline and upcoming renewals.
Let’s face it, we’ve all heard or been on the receiving end of a sales pitch or customer success training calls where we tune out because the messaging is generic and it doesn’t resonate with us. It doesn’t feel like what is being said applies to us, so not only do we tune out but we might even feel a bit of disdain for the sales rep or CSM for having such a lack of understanding about their buyers and customers.
However, we often can’t really lay the blame at the feet of the reps for this. That’s because it’s the result of the company not aligning on persona-based messaging and training their teams appropriately.
A common gap we see in an organization’s go-to-market approach is that while they write Persona Profiles they don’t take the final step of enablement for the field. There is a failure to train reps on how to use this knowledge to engage more effectively with individual stakeholders. This means your engagement strategy has a communication failure because your reps aren’t equipped to speak the language of the buyer and it hurts rep level and company performance.
And let’s face it, many are already behind on revenue goals and you can’t let deals slip any further. This is some low-hanging fruit that can help you gain more traction and win more deals.
Given the economic climate and that new leads are slowing down and that churn is rising, companies are not in a position to lose the audience they do have due to a failure to communicate effectively at the persona level.
However, the good news is that reps can be trained and equipped to drive better engagement at the persona level with relatively low effort when compared to the impact that this can have on performance.
So why will focusing on persona-driven engagement help? Let’s look at what good vs bad looks like starting with how generic pitches hurt:
The Ill-Advised Generic Approach:
Generic pitches fail to resonate with buyers and customers. This inhibits a rep’s ability to clearly articulate their pitch and recommendations in language and value statements that speak to each specific persona’s challenges. The prospect or customer then fails to see in their mind’s eye how your solution can help them solve their problems and achieve their goals. So they disengage.
- You get ghosted
- You lose credibility
- You lose to the competition because they were better prepared and engaging with them made the prospect/client feel understood
- You miss our quota and even your re-forecasted numbers
- You lose market share
When reps aren’t engaging at a personal and tailored level your organization is going to feel it at the micro deal level and macro level of missed revenue targets and company performance.
Now let’s consider what good looks like.
The Persona-Based Approach
So, let’s flip this on its head, end the doom and gloom, and imagine a near future state where your reps can effectively engage with each persona at all levels of seniority.
Consider times when you’ve engaged with a sales rep or CSM that clearly understood your business, industry, and challenges. They engaged in a way that spoke directly to your challenges, use cases, your day-to-day reality, and your goals. They made recommendations on how you can achieve your goals so you tune in, you take notes, and you gladly offer up more of your time. You even begin to introduce them to colleagues and bosses who are part of this project and evaluation.
Now imagine your entire team having a persona-based engagement that is that effective.
Now your rep is progressing through the sales cycle, increased product adoption, and/or their renewal.
- You are engaged with multiple stakeholders, including senior leaders
- Your rep is seen as a trusted advisor due to their personalization
- You win against the competition in part, due to your superior positioning
- You consistently meet your forecasted quota
- You gain market share
Equipping your team to talk to each persona in language, verbiage, and positioning that will resonate with them will have an outsized impact in the short term. It will progress deals and save renewals.
Convinced yet about the importance of focusing some effort on persona-based engagement this quarter?
Yes? Great! Let’s talk about where to begin in equipping your team.
Where to Begin
First, leverage persona profiles or cards that your company may already have drafted. If you don’t have any work with marketing and enablement to craft these ASAP. They don’t need to be pretty, just accurate and informational.
Next, whether you do or don’t have persona profiles documented, you have an even better resource. Your existing customers.
Build a deeper understanding of your customer base as a whole and your key buyer personas by talking to some customers. Put some real-life context around these roles and their daily realities. Develop customer empathy by learning about their challenges, frustrations, and successes. This can be achieved in the following ways:
- Conduct AMAs and have customers that represent different personas attend. Have reps ask questions that will help them to learn more about a day in the life of each persona and what their pains are from both an emotional and rational level. Identifying rational pains will help reps to learn about what they are measured on and what KPIs they track. However, identifying their pains on an emotional level will help reps to learn about the emotional drivers that create stress and excitement. These emotional levers are ultimately what makes someone pursue change. This knowledge gives us powerful insight into what messaging will likely resonate.
- Listen to customer calls. This includes sales, onboarding, customer success, and support calls. By listening to the phrases, terms, and verbiage clients commonly use you can mirror their language. You can learn about their frustrations and prepare how to proactively address these. You can also learn about successes and arm your team with powerful customer stories of how customers have achieved their goals.
- Conduct Voice of the Customer interviews. Get feedback from clients within your ICP on their experiences during the buyer and customer journey. Learn about their challenges, use cases, and where they have succeeded, where they have struggled and how they view your organization vs the competition. Pro tip: Interview ICP customers who have churned as well. This can be a gold mine of constructive feedback and you’d be surprised how open they will be to doing this.
Taking the time to learn directly from clients will build empathy, enable reps to craft effective messaging, and drive powerful conversations. Work with your team to view their engagement from the lens of buyer education and customer education. This will have them thinking more outwardly about their prospect and customer vs inwardly about their features and generic pitches. This will translate into more engaged buyers and customers and ultimately improved performance.
The more your reps put this knowledge into practice, the more the entire team will see what good looks like. This allows for repeatable processes and repeatable messaging. Reps won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they prepare for an engagement or worse, simply rely on generic messaging that yields poor results.
Ultimately, this will help to deliver won deals and retain customers in a scalable manner.
We’ve addressed one important piece of the puzzle in this post. Now that we understand why aligning your team on engaging at the persona level is important, we have a starting point for how to build buyer and customer empathy.
Interested in some additional support?
We offer an ICP refinement workshop for client’s seeking a deeper and data driven understanding of their current ideal customer profile. Each workshop includes customer data analysis, two collaborative workshop sessions with your team, and a co-developed action plan. Learn more about our ICP workshop by clicking here.