Sales teams have long been taught to focus on finding their champions, influencers and decisions makers. That’s why they read Challenger and other methodologies to help them learn to identify and engage the right people, in the best way and at the ideal timing. 

Meanwhile, Marketing has been creating buyer persona research for years. Well-crafted personas fuel impactful content creation that nurture leads through the funnel. It’s been a successful strategy for becoming buyer-centric. With that success, many organizations are quickly trying to apply these learning to sales.

Sales on the other hand can be resistant to this

Why? Sometimes it goes against their sales processes, learnings and practices that have lead them to making quota.

But your company wants them to understand the buyer better, right? If they care about better buyer experience, they will care about personas right?

Well, not really.  

Sales Managers report that the single most important thing a sales rep can do to be more effective is to increase their understanding of buyers and their buying process.

But motivating them can be challenging and forcing them usually proves impossible.

The biggest flaw in how most organizations attempt to rollout buyer personas is that they forget about being truly buyer-centric. Not about the company’s buyers, but of the very people they are asking to buy-in to the buyer personas in the first place: Sales.

When creating buyer personas, it’s fundamental to use the language of the buyer. Talk to them in the way they prefer, relevant to their needs. If you want sales buy-in to personas then:

Apply buyer-centric thinking to your sales team

Rather than forcing personas with marketing perspective down their throats, relate these concepts back to what helps them sell. Better yet, include sales in the creation process to make sure their perspective is captured.

Avoid this common rollout method

Often times sales is presented with personas and asked to: 

  1. Learn a new term for them 
  2. Give them a new label/role name 

(hint: you’ve lost Sales’ attention by now—so they will probably miss out on the meat of the next step)

  1. Then learn all the helpful things we’ve researched about what motivates your buyers, what makes them risk-averse and how to best engage with them.

Even if you make them take a quiz at the end, most sales people will not remember or care to apply any of what they consider to be smarketing persona-babble.

Instead, consider that Sales reps have been trained to think about the role the buyer plays in their sales process:

  • Who is an economic decision maker or above the line buyer
  • Who is a technical evaluator, the business user or an influencer?
  • Who is a champion or a detractor?

To help your reps become more buyer-centric, you have to start the conversation on their playing field before you transition them towards thinking about how buyers buy.

Win over Reps with a sales-centric starting point

  1. Start with a discussion of who they typically sell to in deals and how they sell
  2. Transition the conversation from how they sell to how their buyers buy
  3. Introduce your personas as typical of the buyers in their sales process
  1. Integrate the information sales needs about buyers into the sales process and the CRM to influence how they work
  2. Show Sales visually how the buyer personas correspond to the roles they are hunting for, and put the buying journey into the context of their selling stages and steps.

TOPO has a great framework for what you should include in a sales persona.

Learn the revenue journey