CRM and Identifying Buyer Personas

By Lars Helgeson

A buyer persona is a representation of someone in your market of potential buyers. These personas are estimates, stereotypes of people who are or will be clients. As you learn about your market and gather information about your clients and their habits, your personas evolve as well.

You set up groups and processes in your CRM with your personas. Personas also drive your brand and the voice you use to communicate with people similar to your personas.

Brainstorming the persona

Start a persona by taking a few key segments and combine them together. For example, a 20-something male who lives in Los Angeles and likes baseball. From there, you can expand to include a few other items of interest to build a list of attributes:

  • 25 years old
  • Male
  • Lives in urban Los Angeles
  • Likes baseball (attends ten Dodgers games per year)
  • College educated
  • Young professional
  • Drives a late model sports car
  • Eats out often
  • Works over 50 hours per week
  • Travels a few times a year to vacation to nearby places in California and Mexico
  • Call him “Zack”

As you fill in more details about Zack, you start to create a picture in your mind of who Zack really is. What would Zack do when he reads an ad about your product? What’s important to Zack, and how can you help him make his life better?

Repeat this process a few times with your team so you get a picture of what your customers look like. Create key personas that combine common attributes of people who would buy your products or services.

Buyer personas help create an image in your mind of your buyers. They connect emotion to data, which is important in creating messaging that resonate with your market. The more you understand your market and can communicate on an emotional level, the more you can sell to that market.

Don’t limit personas to people. Create a persona for any company that is a client if you’re selling B2B. You can draw a generalized company based on size, location, brand, and target market. If you can sell to XYZ Corporation, you can sell to its competitors.

Using personas to outline process

After you have a few personas drawn up, you can then examine how you want to sell to them. Chances are, someone in your company has sold to people or companies similar to your personas. If your organization has been in business for a while, you may have data that backs up what works.

Based on your experience and research, your next step is to design a process — a buyer journey — to sell to those personas. Start with how they find out about you, at the early awareness stage, and move along to the sale. Think how you want the personas to move in a single sequence.

CRM-journey-flow
A simple buyer journey based on gender.

When you have a single sequence of actions, you can build a complete journey for each persona. It may be that there is little variation between different buyer personas going through their journeys, but it’s still a useful exercise.

Connecting personas and journeys to your CRM

After you understand your buyers and how they buy from you, you can define requirements for your CRM.

Your buyers have characteristics that you can track in the CRM. Use these characteristics o build your data model, the fields that you use to track important information about your contacts. These fields could be demographic or activity data.

The process of buying from you should be modeled within your CRM. The CRM should give you the ability to graphically view your buyer journeys and track them as they progress toward becoming customers in real time.