B2B personas: understanding them and mastering the buyer’s journey

Did you know that 72% of marketing professionals use B2B personas to guide their marketing content? This statistic highlights the growing importance of understanding exactly who the decision-makers are in the B2B world.

In this world where every purchasing decision can involve multiple stakeholders and take months of deliberation, understanding the nuances of B2B personas and the complex journey of the B2B buyer is not only useful, it’s essential.

From the outset, we should say “buyer persona” because B2B personas are semi-fictional representations of the people involved in the decision-making process in your target companies. These personas are based on real data gathered through a series of interviews with current or potential customers (prospects).

Understanding B2B personas

For example, your target company always has a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who is looking to innovate the business through new technologies. Understand this individual’s role in the decision-making process, based on questions such as:

At what point does the CTO become involved in the decision-making process?

1What is their role?

2- What is their relative weight in the decision?

3- What information does he or she need to move the decision forward?

4- What could have a negative impact on their perception of your company or your solution?

The answers to these questions will help you personalize your communications (blog posts, case studies, demos, etc.) and refine the targeting of campaigns and develop products that meet their specific needs.

Now, take this reasoning and apply it to a financial decision-maker. Take the one who determines the budget associated with buying a solution like yours. The same reasoning applies to those who will be the day-to-day users of your solution. The most important persona is the one(s) (because yes, it’s often a committee) who will be responsible for evaluating your solution, and whose power of recommendation will be the highest of all those involved.

In this case, you need to have as much business intelligence as possible about this persona. You can’t just make it a “communication” persona. You can’t rely solely on the perceptions of your sales reps. You’d be missing crucial information that could derail the whole decision-making process. This is your central persona. He’s the one who needs your undivided attention. But above all, all your help in convincing all the other people around him.

That leaves us with one last persona, the influencer, who deserves a little more explanation…

The role of B2B influencers

In B2B personas, influencers (those who influence a decision without taking part in it) are too often limited to legal or IT advisors. Those who often get in the way of the decision-making process. B2B influencers are often industry experts, leading thinkers. Or even advanced users who are trusted by your target audience. Their role goes beyond simply recommending products. They help shape opinion and trends within the industry.

They can also be an industry expert, a former customer in a crucial role at a prestigious company, an advisor to an industry association, or a professor at a university or technical college. A B2B influencer is anyone who can have a positive impact on the perception of your product, service or brand. The key is knowing when to expose them to your target companies in their buying cycle. While examples of B2C influencers abound, this is not the case in B2B.

These are rarely massive campaigns or splintered Instagram accounts. A powerful testimonial or case study about someone who has achieved their professional goals with the help of your company could have a similar effect without having to financially negotiate a partnership with an influencer, however, the reach won’t be the same. The effect of increasing brand awareness and influencing purchasing decisions among your target community remains greater with an influencer.

B2B buyer’s journey

The B2B buyer’s journey is often long and complex. It involves several stages, from awareness to purchase decision. Although all marketers like to present it in a linear fashion, a more or less complex variant ranging from Interest->Consideration->Evaluation->Decision*, Gartner’s depiction of it is hardly a joke.

There’s always a lot of back-and-forth in the decision-making process. The key is to identify and understand the moments of truth. Those points of contact where it’s make-or-break for each stage of the customer journey. (Which, in my opinion, should be called the decision-making journey, but that’s another story).

Buyer personas play a crucial role at every stage. For example, during the problem awareness phase, a buyer might come across a blog post written by an influencer. A post that describes a solution to a problem the company didn’t know how to solve. This relevant content guides the buyer towards the consideration phase, where case studies and testimonials become crucial.

A demonstration could help them evaluate and compare your solution with those of your competitors. All that remains is to manage the perception of risk. That of doing business with you or your solution the ultimate obstacle to choosing you. (Admit it, you didn’t see that one coming). This final moment of truth is the responsibility of your sales team.

If, throughout the customer journey, your sales reps have failed to inspire confidence, you’ve done all that hard work, all that hard work for nothing! That’s why they need to master social selling!

Strategies for engaging B2B buyers

To effectively engage B2B buyers, companies need to adopt a multi-channel strategy that values authenticity and value creation. This strategy must also increase the chances that your persona will “stumble upon” your content at the right time. But above all, that this content triggers a situation-need match.

Every buyer has a busy professional agenda. Only 5% of the time are they looking for an answer to a need. The rest is curiosity and education to help them do their job. Your content needs to be “strong” enough to make the reader feel like they need to remember this for when they need it. This could include co-creating content with influencers, organizing networking events, virtual or otherwise. Or the presence of brand ambassadors is important.

It’s essential to focus on building long-term relationships rather than short-term gains, recognizing that trust and expertise are the currencies of the B2B realm and that the longer the buying cycle, the more important the business relationship will be.

Conclusion

Navigating the B2B landscape with its multiple stakeholders and long sales cycles can seem daunting. However, by deeply understanding your B2B personas and mastering the buyer’s journey, you can turn these challenges into opportunities. The only way to develop the level of understanding you need to build your personas is to interview your customers and prospects. Point. In-house workshops and guessing games create no value, and often lead us down the wrong path.

We invite you to rethink your approach to B2B marketing, adopt these strategies and start building deeper, more meaningful relationships with your customers and influencers.

If, at the end of the day, you feel there are too many pieces to this puzzle, or you’d like to share your experiences with personas, the buyer’s journey or B2B influencers, drop us a line. We love to share!

Blog Archive

More articles that might interest you?

A rude awakening for your B2B marketing content strategy

The time for creating content for the sake of creating content is more than dead. You can still do it… Read More...

Blog vs AI

Effective B2B blog: who will be the most human?

This post was born out of a long reflection over the weekend on content marketing. But also about blog, search… Read More...

customer experience

Measuring the customer experience: a pillar of business success

In today's competitive business world, customer experience (Cx) can no longer be just a floating idea. It's become a prerequisite… Read More...