It’s no secret that buyer personas are a valuable B2B marketing tool. These highly descriptive personality profiles help marketing teams know their buyers nearly as well as they know their close friends, allowing them to create irresistible marketing messages that earn easy conversions.
Although buyer personas can inspire magical marketing, they’re grounded firmly in reality. The marketing teams who get the most value from their buyer personas don’t make assumptions. Instead, they spend time interviewing and understanding real people.
The keys to conducting an excellent buyer interview are asking insightful questions, practicing skillful listening, and capturing every detail. Each of these tasks is so important that some marketing teams assign two people to interview buyers: one person runs the interview and facilitates a fluid conversation while the other person transcribes the dialog.
It’s important to have a list of questions prepared for your interviews, but don’t follow a script. Buyer persona strategist Adele Revella said in a recent podcast interview on MarketingProfs that buyer interviews are an exercise in “highly structured, but unscripted” conversation. Listen closely to what your buyer says and allow yourself to react naturally. When you make your buyer feel comfortable, he’ll be more candid with you and that’s when you’ll collect your most valuable customer intelligence.
Here are five questions every marketing pro should ask during a buyer interview:
- What does success look like for you? Your buyer’s answer to this question will help you understand what his goals are and what’s important to him. If you know this, you can avoid promoting product or service benefits that he finds irrelevant.
- What keeps you up at night? You’re in the business of solving problems for your buyer. Learning how these problems affect his everyday life will help you develop targeted messaging that demonstrates your product is the best solution to his problems. You’ll want to go into detail here and identify not only his primary pain points, but also how they make him feel.
- What do you read/watch/listen to? Understanding where your buyer gets his information will help you determine where you should spend your marketing resources.
- What do you do when you’re shopping for [product/service]? Insight into your buyer’s shopping process lets you determine what kinds of content he’ll find most useful and where he’ll look for that content.
- “And what else?” This question, used often by journalists and executive coaches, may subtly convince your buyer to elaborate further on a particular point. The information that buyers volunteer without obvious prompting can be some of the best information you’ll collect in the entire interview.
Buyer personas don’t work unless they’re based on the behaviors of real people. Conducting interviews will help you understand what your buyers think and do, and why. Only then can you begin the work of designing marketing messages that drive sales.
Learn more about how to target your prospects at AA-ISP’s Inside Sales 2014 Conference. Register for the February 6th event today!