How to create a B2B buyer persona from scratch

George Denison avatar
George Denison

Mar 14, 2022

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Who are you marketing to, really?

That's the question that B2B buyer personas are designed to answer. To succeed at inbound marketing, you need to know your customers. Not just businesses, but the people who work there and the challenges that you can help them solve.  

In this blog, you'll learn how to build a strong B2B buyer persona from scratch to support your inbound marketing strategy

How to create a B2B buyer persona

  1. What is a B2B buyer persona?
  2. What is an ideal customer profile (ICP)?
  3. What should a B2B buyer persona include?
  4. How many personas do you need?
  5. How to build your B2B buyer persona 
  6. A handy B2B buyer persona example

What is a B2B buyer persona?

A B2B buyer personas is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer, built with data and research. It defines the people you're trying to reach with your content.

All too often, businesses fall into the trap of only talking about themselves or things that matter to them. Personas help to keep your content focussed on the needs and challenges of your buyers. 

Before you get stuck into building your persona, first you need to establish your ideal customer profile (ICP).  

Need help getting started? Download our B2B Persona Workbook today.


What is an ideal customer profile (ICP)?

An ICP is the fictional 'perfect' business to sell your product or service to. It's a checklist of firmographic data that helps you identify businesses that are the right fit.  

Your ICP should include:

  • Industry – the specific verticals your ideal customer works in
  • Company size – the number of employees and the lowest cost threshold your customer would have to pay for your product or service
  • Geography – the countries and regions your ideal customer sells to

This list isn’t exhaustive. But it’s a great starting point for defining what a buyer should look like. 

You can define ICPs by using automation to analyse data on the deals you've won and lost. This is also an opportunity to review key decision makers on those deals and get more information for your persona. 

Once you've got your perfect business pinned down, it's time to start building the persona who works there.   

 


What should a B2B buyer persona include?

Many B2Bs make the mistake of building buyer personas based around B2C thinking. This results in persona documents stuffed with irrelevant personal details and demographic data.

Knowing that 'Technology Tina' is 55, lives in the suburbs, has four children, and takes tennis lessons at the weekend won't help you increase your leads. You need to focus on the factors that will influence your buyer's purchase decisions. 

6 things to include in your buyer persona 

1. Job role – What is their position in the company? What are their day-to-day responsibilities? Who do they report into? Are they the decision-maker?

2. Goals – What are their high-level business objectives? How is their success is defined and measured?

3. Challenges – What problems hinder or stop them from achieving their goals?

4. Pain points – What are the smaller issues that make up the challenges your prospect faces?

5. Objections – What concerns or beliefs might make prospects hesitant to purchase? How would your sales team counter these objections?

6. Buying behaviour – What kind of content do they consume? Where do they find it? Which channels do they use?

Remember that multiple job titles can cover the same role. Only capture the detail you need to produce content that will resonate with that buyer.  

How many personas do you need?

The thought process often goes that because several people are involved in B2B purchase decisions, you’ve got to have lots of different personas. However, if you cast your net too wide, you’ll end up splitting your budget too thin and diluting the impact of your marketing on traffic and leads.

Fewer personas are better than more. Start by targeting the one persona that will create the most revenue the fastest and you’ll achieve better results.

How to build your B2B buyer persona 

Data gives you the advantage of accuracy. To build a strong B2B buyer persona, you need to gather as much data as you can through research and interviews. 

1. Do independent research

Start by tapping into all the sources of customer data you already have available, including:

  • CRM data Your CRM can tell you a lot about what your ideal customer looks like and how they behave. You can discover the channels they used to find you, what they bought, how much they spent, and more.      
  • LinkedIn – While the data you can glean from LinkedIn profiles is limited, it can be a good place to find out more about job roles, online behaviour, and team structures. 
  • Google – Search for industry blog posts and reports to learn more about the challenges and pain points your persona faces.

2. Speak to your sales team

Your sales teams talk to your customers every day, which makes them a perfect source of insight for your personas. Ask them what they've observed about the leads they engage with the most:
 
  • Who do they have sales conversations with?
  • What questions do customers ask them most frequently? 
  • What are the most common objections they encounter? 

3. Interview your customers

Talking directly to the source is perfect for filling in any remaining blanks. To get the most out of customer interviews, make sure you go in armed with as much information as possible. 

When interviewing customers, ask about:

  • Their job role and responsibilities
  • Their biggest challenges and pain points
  • What product or service they bought from you and why
  • How their purchase has helped them.

You should now have plenty of customer data to bring your B2B buyer persona to life. If you need help getting started, download our B2B buyer persona template. 

Keep your buyer personas concise. People won’t use personas that span several pages – aim to fit a persona onto a single page.

 

A handy B2B buyer persona example

So what does a B2B buyer persona look like in practice? This persona is an IT manager working at a fast-growing SME in the tech space:

Job role

  • IT manager 
  • Company size: 50 – 500 employees
  • Company turnover: £5m – £20m
  • Reports into: CTO/CEO

Goals

  • Helping to grow the business
  • Saving the business time and money 
  • Streamlining key processes

Challenges

  • Under-resourced with a limited IT budget 
  • Manual processes lead to human errors
  • Lack of time to drive process improvements

Pain points

  • Getting buy-in from the board for new solutions
  • Using multiple platforms causes duplication of work
  • Shadow IT causes security and compliance issues

Objections and counters

  • The solution is too expensive – Our solution pays for itself through the long-term savings it creates 
  • It will take too long to set up and onboard – The solution is plug and play and requires minimal training

Online behaviour 

  • Finds content online via organic search

Focus your content with better B2B buyer personas

Done right, personas are valuable tools that inform and inspire your inbound marketing strategy. Create personas that can be applied to your B2B buyers. Follow these tips to build a strong B2B buyer persona that will help you achieve greater buy-in and generate more leads with your content. 

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