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Using Persona-Based Selling to Reach the Right People Right Now

5 min read
Updated Oct. 18, 2023
Published May. 3, 2016

The movement of the persona-based model has historically been dominated by the content marketing world. Why? Because as hard as it is for this sales development advocate to admit, marketing has been leading charge on through the ever-popular Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy.

Unfortunately, too many sales development teams are under-educated on the best practices that have been enabling sales organizations — since the beginning of time — to achieve their business goals.

But with the spreading popularity of the persona-based model, through Account Based Sales Development (ABSD), or as Craig Rosenberg of TOPO calls it, Account Based Everything, it’s time for persona-based selling to come back to the forefront.

Whether you’re working with an ABM or ABSD model, it’s critical to understand your audience. Who are you are selling to? What are their pain points — and in what context — do they exist? Your messaging needs to connect with these people, and ultimately, convert the opportunities. 

But why didn’t sales come up with this concept first?

Historically, the “art” of sales has outweighed the “science” of marketing and lead generation. Sales interactions have been viewed as creative conversations — perfected dances between sellers and buyers, choreographed for an effortless flow from intro to close. Sales organizations talking about persona-based selling have been few and far between.

But with strategies like persona-based selling, sales is just as much of a science as it is an art. Some may even argue, based on the rapid evolution of technology at the fingertips of the modern sales organization, science is growing into the dominant trait for sales development success.

For starters, there seems to be an almost infinite amount of data providers in the game — all designed in favor of the persona-based selling model, to answer the critical questions necessary to uncover accounts in your ICP.

Take Datanyze for example: the app helps identify companies using specific technologies so that, before you ever pick up the phone, you’ll know if your solution will fit into the prospect’s stack. And Everstring: this app can help identify accounts in alignment with your ICP, based on all of your closed-won deals and existing customers. If that’s not science, then I don’t know what is!

Now, you may be saying, “this is all great, but it doesn’t help me find the right people.” On the contrary — not only can these vendors help identify the right accounts, but they can provide the contact information to reach your buyer persona wish list.

And there’s that word again: buyer persona. What is it? Why is it important? And how do you create it?

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona represents a segment of people, at comparably-sized target accounts, who exhibit similar patterns in their purchasing decisions. From their use of technology or products, to their customer service preferences and communication style, these buyer personas exhibit behaviors, attitudes, and motivations common to a “type” — regardless of typical demographics.

Why is a buyer persona important?

When you’re focused on persona-based selling, it’s your messaging that converts. Personalized and intentional messaging is the key to success when it comes to connecting and converting these well-defined buyer personas.

As frontline sellers, we’ve learned the hard way that over-automated emails suck, and under-researched cold calls can be the most painful thing in the world (for both the seller and the buyer). This isn’t new news.

But what we know now is that the more integrated this persona-based selling strategy is with your marketing methodology, the greater audience you’ll attract, and the stickier the message will be in the long run.

How do you create a buyer persona?

Creating your framework for persona-based selling starts by enabling your SDR team with the buyer knowledge needed to field questions like experts. Ralph Barsi believes it starts with onboarding. Spend 20% of the time training your reps on your company (history, product, core values, etc.) and 80% of the time on your customers.

Your business exists solely to serve your buyers — to truly understand their needs, pains, and businesses — and what better way to show true empathy than focusing the majority of your SDRs attention on them? To create this buyer persona, and put it into action, your reps should able to answer questions like these:

  • Who are the people you are trying to reach?
  • How would you describe the buyer in 2-3 sentences?
  • What is their role in the organization?
  • How do they think? Are they analytical or creative?
  • What is the day in the life like?
  • How do they buy?
  • How do they prefer to be communicated with?
  • What are their pains (specifically in the context of their organization)?

All of these questions come down to leveraging the ideal client profile to identify roles — but there is a catch. Depending on what you are selling to, you might have a committee sell, so you don’t want to ignore your buyer persona when creating your messaging.

Personalization is taking the sales development industry by storm, and what better way to target the right people in your sales efforts than through the right messaging for your buyer personas? Persona-based selling is doing just that: hyper-focusing on personas — the individual people, personalities, and segments — in order to dive deeper into the needs of your ICP.

For a more comprehensive look into Salesloft’s internal SDR process, download our playbook, The Sales Development Playbook: Executing. We share the ins and outs of efficiently using Salesloft to call and email prospects. Optimize your sales efforts to start crushing your sales development goals today.