From Leads to Orders: Building B2B Buyer Personas for Success

Buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of ideal customer of a business which contain a detailed description of the type of customer who finds your product valuable and is likely to buy from you.

Updated: March 29, 2024

A priority for most B2B sellers is being able to reach more qualified leads and sell more products. Your attention should ideally turn next to get more orders after launching your online storefront and meeting your first rash of customer orders. For this, the first step is to create B2B buyer personas for your business.

You can get incredible insight into strategies when buyer personas is used in the right way and this can be implemented to charge your marketing and attract more qualified buyers.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of ideal customer of a business. It contain a detailed description of the type of customer who finds your product valuable and is likely to buy from you.

Buyer personas are like living representations of your ideal target market for B2B businesses. There is a specific kind of customer for every seller whom they want to sell to. This could be a business with specific needs and goals or a firm with a specific range in turnover. Breaking this target market down into specifics that help you get a better idea of who you want to sell to is involved in creating a buyer persona.

Buyer personas are usually created with the help of extensive research and data about the customers of a business. A document that contain the details about the goals, hobbies, motivations, family, frustrations, and challenges of your ideal customer should be created. The primary goal of creating a buyer persona is to know about your target customer so that you know exactly how to sell to them.

Sample of a Buyer Persona:

You need to create detailed profiles on individuals when you are selling to businesses since you will be able to know this individual or individuals better so that you know how to poke their buying decision in your favor. Your B2B buyers are individuals, some of whom will be essential to make the decision whether the business buys from you when you are selling to businesses.

More than one buyer persona may be required depending on the type and complexity of your target market. Some sellers may need 10 or more buyer personas, while others only need to create two or three buyer personas. However, it doesn't really matter how many buyer persona you have. The important thing is to cover all the types of buyer personas your business wants or is likely to sell to.

Types of Buyer Personas:

There are no specific types of buyer personas in general as the types of customers businesses want to sell to is identified in their own way, and detailed descriptions of these customers are created. Negative buyer personas and micro buyer personas are also created by certain businesses.

A representation of customers you don't want to sell to is a negative buyer persona. This may be because you are unlikely to make much headway with such buyers or selling to that market is not a financially sound decision. For whatever reason you create negative personas, it can help you better refine your idea about your ideal customer.

An extension of an initial persona is known as micro personas which allow businesses to provide more depth as they can identify different type customers falling under the initial persona. 

Why should sellers create B2B buyer personas?

Although creating buyer personas is an important step for any seller, you can benefit more from doing this as a B2B seller, because B2B buyers are unique in the way they interact with products and suppliers. Typically, they spend more time in your sales pipeline before they finally convert. Usually, there is a team of people who are responsible for identifying procurement needs, prospecting for suitable suppliers, and determining if the opportunity is acceptable. There will also be a separate decision maker who make the final decision on whether the purchase goes ahead or not. Therefore, selling to B2B buyers usually takes more time and involves more effort than with other buyers.

You need to ensure that you are speaking to leads who are likely to make a purchase in the first place to be certain that your investment of time and effort is not wasted. You can attract leads by creating buyer personas as it helps direct your sales and marketing efforts. Other reasons for creating buyer personas are:

Why buyer personas are important?

Buyer personas help businesses start thinking about their products from the perspective of customer which is important for several reasons. Sellers can often make the mistake of creating their products and market them as if their customers have similar tastes, preferences, and motivations to themselves. However, this could be wrong if you find that you are making fewer sales than you expect, or your marketing efforts are not providing results. A  well-researched buyer personas can help you know your customers better so that you can accurately anticipate their needs, and then position your sale accordingly. Businesses that have detailed personas can easily exceed their goals for revenue and marketing leads with the valuable insight provided by it. It is easier to develop strategies to market and sell your products with the information about consumer behavior that is provided by buyer personas.

How buyer personas are used in marketing?

Buyer personas are used by marketers to prospect and find qualified leads. A lead is a potential customer who has an interest in your products in marketing. A potential customer is more likely to buy from your business than other leads when a lead is qualified. Many leads eventually fail to exhibit a real and sustained interest in the product of a company as a result of inefficient marketing efforts which can cost you time and money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Buyer personas are also  used by marketers to personalize their messaging and content, which allows them to target customers with content that is relevant to their stage in the buying pipeline that helps them to move on to the next step. This is a winning strategy, since offers and personalized content are more likely to result in a sale.

How to create B2B buyer personas?

Creating detailed buyer personas is not a small task as it requires collecting enough information about your target buyers through research, interviews, and hard data. Then, you have to put all this data together before concluding opinion about your ideal customer. Much of time and resources are involved in this. The process is as below:

Questions to ask:

You need to learn all you can about your customer to really get into the minds of them and identify their motivations, challenges, and pain points. A good buyer persona should contain the details like 
The age, gender, marital status of buyer, information about their children, their location, fun activities they are involved in, communication channels that are mostly used by them and comfortable for them, their qualification and the social networks preferred by them.

Some industry-specific questions are:

  • What type of company do they work for and what is their designation or role at work?
  • What are their career goals?
  • What does a typical day at work look like for your customer?
  • What are the challenges to achieving this success?
  • How do they define success in the workplace?
  • What are their biggest fears or pain points?
  • What are the most common objections to possible solutions for them?
  • How do they prefer to communicate over work related matters?

Some product-specific information are:

  • Have they used your product or a similar product before?
  • How do they choose suppliers or vendors?
  • What is most important for your customer when making a buying decision?
  • What are their most common objections to your products or similar products?
  • How do they use your product or similar products to achieve success at work?
  • What are the success factors when making a buying decision?

You can be more specific with the help of these general questions as you can modify them for your specific target market or industry. However, the most important thing for you to understand how customers behave for your products, and the context behind that behavior. You need to follow up on each question with other questions that let you understand the context as a result of this. For example, when you ask 'what is most important for you when making a buying decision?, then your next question should be 'why'?.

Conduct customer research:

The next step is to find answers to all of these questions through your experience of buyers, interviews, and data collected from various sources. You need to ensure that everyone you work with is on the same page in carrying out this research, because you will require input from all parts of your business, including sales, marketing, and customer relations, to get an accurate buyer persona. You can conduct the research by following ways:

Conduct internal interviews:

Your ideal customer will come from your existing buyers if your business has started selling already. Unique and helpful information about your ideal customer will be there with your different departments. For example, typically the sales department know about the products B2B clients like to order, and how they like to order, marketing department understands where buyers came on board, the content they responded to, and other similar trends and customer relations department know about the complaints they typically get from customers about product satisfaction etc. You can get a good start with all of this information.

Survey your existing customers:

The things you know internally within your business is just not enough. You should go further to contact your existing, and even previous customers. Try to get a idea of what attracted them to your business, what motivated them to buy, and how they used your product to solve their business challenges. You will have the most success with your responses if you some sort of incentive can be provided for customers to participate in the survey. A discount may be offered on future orders or a free sample of your product to get them interested. You can conduct your survey by either phone call interviews, physical questionnaires or online surveys using tools like Survey Monkey or Google Forms.

Interview other real people:

Your business prospects or leads are another source of information about consumer behavior that you can utilize. These  business prospects or leads are individuals who did not become customers or buy anything from you. But, they should be added here to get as many views as possible, including from those who decided not to purchase your product. Similar tactics can be used to the interview with existing customers to survey these individuals.

Confirm what you know with online data:

You will have a good picture of what your customers look like from all of the interviews you have conducted so far. But data plays an important role as it will help you clarify and refine that picture and may also help you debunk incorrect assumptions which you may have made. The data sources you should be considering are:

  • Google Analytics: It is a free tool that can let you know everything you need to know about those that visit your website including data about where they come from, how they find your website, what areas of your website they interact with, and so on.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software: CRM software is only useful if you already use the software. Analytics is included in every CRM software that let you know more about your customers, including their industry and every aspect of their buyer journey.
  • Social listening: Social listening such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be used to monitor conversations that are relevant to your product. You dig deep into how people interact with your product on the platform with the help of tools, like Facebook’s Audience Insights of these social networks. Quora and Reddit are also great places where you can look in to the questions aske by people about products in your industry and how they behave in relation to these products.

Segment your customers:

It is time to segment your data about your customers into relevant groups after collecting it. The answers you received are not all the same since all your customers do not work in the same type of company, or even industry. Your data could indicate that often your customer have very different challenges and pain points or many people find your business over disparate online channels.

You can group these customers separately according to their responses by segmentation so that you can begin to get a general idea of your buyer groups. You can also immediately begin to see how many buyer personas you may need to create from this point.

There is nothing to worry if you are able to find less than four customer segments from your responses since most businesses will typically make 90% of their sales from just three to four buyer personas. The important thing is to make sure that your data and the personas created by you are as accurate and detailed as possible.

Define your buyer persona:

So far you have completed all of your research about your ideal customer, and you have almost identified the most common segments in which these customers fall. Now,  you need to craft your B2B buyer persona. You can start by understanding the elements you need to include in each profile. A list elements that you should include are given below. However, these elements are not necessarily based on any single customer. Instead, they should be representative of common characteristics what you have found in a group of customers.

  • Name: Most of the businesses like to use descriptive names for this purpose.
  • Personal data or description: Demographic data about the buyer, including a summary of their interests,  education level, daily life, family, income level, etc. are included in this.
  • Identifiers: It is a list of features that help you identify which buyer persona you are communicating with. For example, the demeanor of persona, how they prefer to communicate, whether they are likely to have an assistant, etc. can be included in identifiers.
  • Role at work: It helps you understand the title of the buyer persona and if they are a decision-maker. Ideally, you should be able to reach decision makers because they generally decide on whether the business buys from you.
  • Work  or industry-related data: The goals of the business, their challenges, pain points, experience with similar products, how they source suppliers, etc. are included in this.
  • Success factors: It is the record of what makes a difference when the buyer is choosing suppliers, what do they want from a good product, and how does the product help them achieve success?
  • Action points or messaging: A description of how you would approach the customer, and what messaging they are likely to respond to for a successful sale should be included in each persona.