HomeBlog You’re Not Done Yet: Adding Customer Roles to B-to-B Personas

You’re Not Done Yet: Adding Customer Roles to B-to-B Personas

March 04, 2013 | By Megan Heuer

If you want to start an interesting debate with a bunch of b-to-b marketing, sales and product folks, ask them what they think of the saying, "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." With all the time and attention spent on what happens before anybody buys, it’s no surprise that there’s often not much energy left to do a great job after a buyer becomes a customer.

If you want to start an interesting debate with a bunch of b-to-b marketing, sales and product folks, ask them what they think of the saying, "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." With all the time and attention spent on what happens before anybody buys, it’s no surprise that there’s often not much energy left to do a great job after a buyer becomes a customer.

This view is changing as companies recognize that holding onto more of the business they have is a profitable growth strategy, and that marketing can be part of the solution. Personas, which many marketers are building or have built, are a perfect example of a tool that can easily be extended, with a few minor adjustments, to help post-purchase.

If you’ve recently been involved in building a b-to-b persona, I’m willing to bet that very little time was spent on defining what matters to the persona after it buys. The thing is, when an account has actually bought something, all the people in the account have just made a big change in their relationship with you. They’ve become customers, which means they have new and different interests and options that need attention. Those contacts and accounts will (hopefully) spend a lot more time being customers than they did being buyers, so it makes sense to revisit their needs and preferences after the sale and as the relationship evolves.

How do you enhance a b-to-b persona to reflect the post-purchase lifecycle? The same way you define a buyer’s attributes, but this time with the customer perspective. Here are a few elements to consider:

  • Customer roles. Who is involved at each phase of the customer lifecycle? This is likely to be different from who was involved in other buying stages. New roles may emerge to manage a project, train users, handle payments, etc. Define them, and be ready to keep them engaged and supported.
  • Customer goals. The issues most important to personas looking to buy may not be the same as their needs post-purchase. For example, during the buying cycle, an influencer may have needed proof of ROI to get decisionmakers involved and convinced. After purchase, if that influencer is in charge of managing the deployment of that investment, he or she must show that ROI for real, against a deadline.
  • Customer communication preferences. Customers have a variety of options for engaging with a seller after they buy, and they may have reason to interact with different touchpoints. They also want to hear about different topics, most of which have nothing to do with what else to buy. It’s essential to map out, by customer role, the options and preferences for communication channels and relevant information to ensure that customers are offered the right kinds of support. Don’t forget to consider which external sources customers use for information on post-purchase needs. Without this view, you won’t get the full picture of where customers go for advice and how to do a better job of encouraging them to think of you first.

Megan Heuer

Megan Heuer is Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions. With more than 20 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer.

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