Creating B2B Buyer Persona [Part 2]

B2B Buyer Persona

This is the second and final part of the comprehensive guide to build a solid buyer persona. In the previous post we had discussed about importance of buyer persona and how to build the basic persona when you are just starting out. It covered the usage of sign up data, website analytics, social media properties and online communities for deriving insights and using that to answer questions related to the persona (demographics, background, objective, obstacles, cause of retraction and marketing message). While these are good enough in the very beginning, in order to build a solid persona we need to actually talk to customers and bring in the perspective other departments as well. It’d be really helpful, if you go through the part one before going ahead with this post.

Conducting Interviews with Customers

The whole objective of conducting interviews is to get new actionable insights. So scripted online surveys and won’t be of much help in this case. The answers you’ll get will be quite high level and most probably you would be already knowing the answer to those questions. What we need to do is conduct at least 3-5 interviews by asking probing questions to the answers given by the customers. For example: If you ask a customer about the most important factor that they look into while choosing a business app, the answer might be “ease of use”. Then you can ask next question to ascertain what all elements contribute to ease of use – “is it low learning curve?”, “is it relative to the competitor’s product?”, “faster setup?” or “simply a well-documented knowledge base?”.

Getting Views from Other Departments

Any team that interacts with customers and has access to customer data can be on-boarded to the buyer persona creation process. That includes customer support, growth, sales, and more. By getting their perspective on customers you’ll surely unlock some things that were missed out earlier and build powerful profiles.

Insights useful for marketing:

Things like company size, designation, demographics data can be found out from LinkedIn, as discussed in the first part of the buyer persona post. Important thing to keep in mind is that we should not get bogged down with trivial details. In B2B scenario it doesn’t matter whether the buyer – Mr. John Doe is married with two kids and a dog. All we need to do is focus on the following insights:

  • Primary Objectives: What are the primary objectives of the buyer? What does the buyer want to achieve?
  • Performance Indicators: The key performance indicators measured to track the success of the buyer.
  • Obstacles: The barriers for the buyer, that would stop him or her from using your product in relation to the measured performance indicators.
  • Buyer Journey: What process does the buyer follow to take a justified decision right from awareness, consideration stage to the final buying stage?
  • Deciding Factor: The deal breaking elements of a product, that the buyer will look into while assessing different options.

Here are the questions to get you started with a probing interview:

1. What are your job roles and responsibilities?

This tells us the nuances of their job and overview of general tasks. Whether they contribute independently, hands-on with what they do or they are more into people management.

2. What is the reporting hierarchy pertaining to your position?

In B2B, this information can be vital, as it tells us who all in the organisation can influence the decision making process. Whether the person needs to get approval prior to committing to a purchase decision or the concerned person is the sole decision maker.

3. What do you usually do in any given working day?

This question should give you a look inside the life of the customer. What is their daily routine? How do they start their day? How do they end their day? When do they feel pressure at work? What’s the most hectic part of the job? What usually happens outside of their work?

4. What kind expertise and knowledge is required to be successful in your job? Do you use any tool?

This tell us whether the job require analytical mind, creativity or mixture of both. If they use any specific tool or love a particular app, it’d be useful understand why they love that app.

5. What are the biggest obstacles in your work?

Here we find out the challenges he is facing to carry out his job. For example: If you are trying to sell a social media management application, a newbie manager might feel overwhelmed by the vast array of use-cases social media brings in for the business. At the same time an experienced manager might be facing challenges while maximizing social media automation or handling customer support.

6. How is success measured in the job? What are the Key Performance Indicators?

Here we assess the basis of the success or failure in the job. What all parameters are taken into consideration and what kind of metrics are used to measure the performance.

7. How do you get latest information to be manage your job?

This is one of the crucial piece of question. It tells how does your customer come across new information. It can be online media, news paper, event, co-worker or industry influencers.

8. Which forum, blog, news resource do you frequently visit?

This tells us where exactly do they go to consume information. Of course it is a good idea to be present in the place where your customers are.

9. Do you use any social network for your job?

This will help you shape up social media strategy. You can prioritize one network over another and focus on the ones where it will be easier to interact with your customers. For example: CTO and HR officer visit different kind of network for their job.

10. What kind of content will help you excel at your work?

This is again a vital question from the perspective of content marketing. It helps us zero in on the kind of content customers would love to read. It can be about best practices, tutorials, case studies, research material, etc.

11. What are your biggest fears while adopting a new product?

We get the answer to the problems that the customer foresees while making a decision related to a new product. These are the factors that would stop your customers from trying out your product. You need to make sure that these pain points are alleviated when the customer gets introduced to the product via any of the touch point.

12. What kind of research do you do while buying a product for your business?

This tells us whether they find out any online reviews, check customer feedback or ask their colleagues.

13. What is the preferred medium of interaction with the service/product provider?

Here we find out the type of channel, customer prefers while buying a solution. It can be online demo, webinar, one-to-one meeting, email or telephone call.

14. What do you want to achieve professionally in the next 5 years?

This question tells us how your product can stay relevant to the customer even after a long time. What kind of long term strategy you should adopt to make the customer stick to the product.

15. Give an example of end to end buying process of a product you bought recently.

Find out if the customer migrated from a different solution and what was the root cause. If it was a fresh purchase, find out how they found out about the solution, what kind of research they did, how did they compare it with the alternatives and what made them finalize the product.

What’s Next

You can download the template given in the previous post on buyer persona (link given at the beginning of this post) and fill it up with what you have found. Then you can use it to refine your marketing message.

Note: TeamWave is an integrated suite of free business apps, that brings Project Management, CRM, Contacts Management and HRMS into a single platform.

Creating Buyer Persona When You Are Just Starting Out

Google Trend Content Marketing Buyer Persona

From this Google Trend graph, it is quite clear that in the past couple of years marketers have started showing interest in “Buyer Persona”. Interesting thing is that soon after the spike in search for “Content Marketing”, the search interest for “Buyer Persona” also took off. Probably attributed to the importance of “Buyer Persona” for generating content relevant to different audiences.

So what exactly is a buyer persona?

I’ll get straight to the point – Buyer Persona is the fictional representation of real people in the target market. These are the people who will be buying or influencing the buying decision-making process of the products and services sold by your company. It takes into account multitude of factors like their goals, job roles, responsibilities, values, fears, challenges and demographics.

Getting started

This post will focus on a the data available to a very early stage start up which has decent amount of traffic to the website/landing page along with social media engagement. Getting insights from customer interviews has been discussed in the second installment of this post.

Sign up data

When companies sign up users for private beta, they always ask for at least one thing – the email id. If you are using landing page platforms like kickofflabs, you will be able to see data associated with each lead. Here is a publicly available image taken from kickofflabs website showing the social profiles of a lead.

kickofflabs card

There are also other service providers like fullcontact and mailchimp, who can search data associated with email addresses. Jay Baer has written a detailed post on this topic and also gone on to describe how one can use Gmail, Facebook and Twitter to find out customer details without spending a dime.

Now, fire up your spread sheet and start filling up the details about your customers taken from their social media profiles. Some of the important information are their current job title, job role, the company, company size and education (LinkedIn profiles are pivotal here). Unless you are a B2C company stuffs like gender, marital status and hobbies won’t be of much use. Using these data, find out what kind of companies (manufacturing, education, marketing agency, etc.) are signing up for your product, the job role/designation of the person signing up (VPs, founders, CXOs, Analysts). You’ll be able to figure out the background information of the customers where your product is able to strike a chord. You can take a step further by actually reading the blogs, posts made by the users to understand their problems, goals and obstacles.

Now, let’s move to our next source.

Google Analytics

We’re considering Google Analytics as it is widely accepted by many companies and very powerful in terms of available data. Once you log in to your Analytics account, there are three sections which are useful for crafting persona and validating existing data:


Inside “Audience” section, you will find “Interest” segment.
Interest Google Analytics
This section will give you the following:

– Affinity Category

It Categorizes the visitors in the top funnel of the purchase cycle and gives an idea on who the customers are. Whether they are music lovers or technophiles.
Affinity category

– In-market segment

This segment ranks website visitors in terms of the likelihood of purchasing a product or service in a specific category. Unlike “Affinity Category”, “In-market segment” gives you users who are at the end of the purchase funnel.

in-market segment

– Other Categories

These are the refined categories of the visitors not present in the two categories mentioned above. Consider this category for possible partnership or collaboration.

Other Categories Interest Group


Demographic data can be accessed from the “Audience” section.

age gender google analytics

This section gives insights in terms of gender and age. You can compare and contrast age vs gender with respect to conversion rate and find out which age group/gender converts the most. To do that simply add “gender” as secondary dimension in the “Age” report page.

gender as secondary dimension

For example, an e-commerce site might see that 75% of the visitors are male and  more than 50% of the total visitors are in the 18-24 age group. But, after adding gender as secondary dimension it might come out that – females in the 25-34 age group have the highest conversion rate. And there-by it can be considered that they are the most valuable target audience.

Search Queries

Head over to “Acquisition” section and click on “Search Engine Optimization”,  then on “Queries”.

Search Queries Google Analytics

This essentially gives you organic search queries that draws visitors to your landing page. You will see a disappointing “not set” query owing to privacy settings of Google. But, the rest should give you a fair idea of the queries that applies to your target audience. Copy these key words to a spreadsheet and try to figure out the intent behind these queries.

Use the insights derived from all the sections described above to devise a rough persona. For example – “founder of a small digital agency looking for an entry level CRM software”.

Social Media Properties

The analytics provided by social media platforms can be used to further refine the target audience depending on how they characterize themselves.

– Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics provides wealth of information about your account, tweets and more importantly – the audiences. Simply navigate to “Audiences” tab and you’ll see the top interests of your audiences (most important) and their demographics. This will give you a fair idea of what kind of content will resonate with your target audiences.

Another great thing is the ability to see and compare the interest and demography of the organic audiences(who don’t follow you, but have seen your tweets).

twitter analytics organic audience

You can check whether there is significant gap among the interests of your followers and the organic audiences. Accordingly you can take cues for buyer persona and make changes to the content. Here is a screen shot showing how the comparison would look:

twitter analytics comparison

Also take note of the “Mobile Footprint” tab which has a section for “Device Categories”. It tells you the kind of devices your audiences use – from iOS, Android, Blackberry to Desktop and Laptop computers. This factor will also be helpful to determine various facets of the buyer persona.

– LinkedIn Analytics

LinkedIn Analytics is highly relevant for B2B segment as it gives you follower and visitor demographics based on the following:
– Seniority
– Industry
– Company Size
– Function

LinkedIn analytics

– Facebook Insights

According to me Facebook Insights gives you least bit of information about the personality of your audiences. However access to the demographic data is relevant for crafting buyer persona. Go to your Facebook page and click on “Insights” button, then check “People” section. You will get to know the age, gender, location and primary language of people who have “liked” your page.

Online forums

Own sign up data and followers are actually limited and they don’t necessarily reflect the perspective of wider audience along with their challenges, goals and obstacles. Online forums like Quora, reddit and niche forums like TripAdvisor, are quite useful to understand the pain points and gather various opinions. Here is an example taken from Quora where a business owner with a penchant for great design is looking for a way to integrate Project Management, CRM, time management and accounting app.

quora customer opinion

This is what TeamWave actually solves with its integrated suite of business apps.

The “Ground Zero” buyer persona template

Now we’ll use the information gathered from the sources mentioned above to actually create buyer persona. Check out the following table and answer the questions to get off the ground.

Categories Questions to answer
Demographics age? gender? location? income?
Background job role? professional path?
Objective tasks to accomplish? business priority?
Obstacle what kind problems are they facing?
Cause of Retraction what would deter them from buying your product?
Marketing Message how can you help them overcome the obstacles and fulfill the objectives?

Note: Click on the image given below to download the buyer persona template:

Buyer Persona Template

What’s next?

The tactics mentioned above can get you started, but in order maintain a steady flight you would need a solid buyer persona. And that starts with actually talking to the customers, asking probing questions and deriving insights from the conversations. It’s an iterative process – personas become clearer as you discover more and more insights. In the second part (link at the top of this article) of this post we have discussed about some of the sample interview questions and covered what kind of insights would benefit the marketing team. Sharp buyer persona results in sharper marketing messages and in turn creates more conversion and engaged user base.

We’d love to know about your experience with buyer persona creation. Tell us what has worked for you in the past and anything that you are looking forward to experiment with.

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