In 2002, research on buyer personas changed the way that companies market to consumers. From a sales training perspective, there is no better way to equip a sales or marketing staff than to acquaint them with the goals of potential buyers. A buyer's persona is different from a marketing stereotype because it is well researched and matched to a specific buyer; the research has to be quantifiable and verifiable to create a persona based on it. Founder of the buyer personas movement Tony Zambito has recently added to his definition of what a buyer persona accomplishes.

person and post-it graphic

Photo Courtesy of HubSpot

Since 2002 they have represented "who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions." In 2013, Zambito added where they buy and when they make the decision to buy as part of his definition, mainly as a result of the social media movement. "While there are dozens of websites that offer advice on how to build personas for your business, one profile that's helpful to use as an example because it's almost certainly a guarantee is the male or female member of Generation X. This population consists of the current leaders in many industries and the generation that changed how business is done. Generation X encompasses those in their 30s and 40s and is most commonly known for working to live, as opposed to living to work. Over 60% went to college out of the approximately fifty million in the United States. Gen X grew up as divorce rates increased, dual income families became more common, and the work hard, play hard mentality became targeted. If you're doing target marketing, these are the customers you'll want to wine and dine, take golfing, or pitch specifically whats in it for me."

Other examples of personas include The Data-Head, who requires spreadsheets and numerical data for the sale to work, and the Skeptic, who likes to apply "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to his company growth. Collecting facts and histories like I did with Gen X makes it easy to fill in the blanks of your buyer persona, creating a complex archetype of a buyer that the sales team will prepare a number of presentations for. When creating personas for staff to examine and memorize, it's important to include hobbies, concerns and pressures, daily tasks and role in the buying process: these factors contribute to a vivid persona that companies can accurately develop sales for. As you develop your customer base, it could be that you switch the target buyer to fit your product and service better- and that's a good thing! One of the most frustrating things for buyers/customers is when a company is pushing something they just don't need or want. So whether your company is brand new, stagnating a bit, or growing quickly, take the time to develop your sales and marketing teams using insightful buyer personas.

For more information, follow Zambito's blog, which is all about personas and how they fit into business today.