4 Steps to Create a Buyer Persona Sales Reps Will Use (Template Included)

creating buyer persona
Sales & Marketing

I’ve seen it time and time again…

A company’s marketing team dedicates their already stretched resources to develop strong, accurate buyer personas — but no one actually uses it. Let alone the sales team, where it would do the most good.

As it turns out, buyer persona research is one of — if not THE — most critical foundations for successful sales.

Keep reading to learn how to create a buyer persona that SDRs can actually use, including a template to get you started.

Back Up. What’s a Buyer Persona?

HubSpot defines a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” It’s the picture you paint based on research and interviews with actual customers.

The concept of the “ideal customer” is key here. By identifying who that is, what they’re like, and what they care about, you can tailor your sales message directly to them — and raise the odds you’ll convert them.

The question is how to piece together the information you need to create an ideal customer profile (ICP). And for that, you need to do some research.

By interviewing your customers, you’re able to take buyer persona research beyond basic demographics and include all of the intangible little details that really make a person tick.

That serves as a fast-track to knowing how to best engage on any given topic.

Here are the buyer insights you’ll get from a well-written buyer persona:

  • The type of content is most likely to generate a response
  • How prospects prefer to engage in the sales process
  • The specific problems your prospect needs to solve so you can address those problems head-on

Buyer Personas: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

When creating a buyer persona, it’s easy to just document what you already know: the role and market segment of your typical customer. Here’s an example of a bad persona description:

Director of HR for a software company located in North America that has between 100 and 5,000 employees.

While this helps you define the ideal customer profile, it doesn’t give you enough personal information to actually engage with them. So let’s make it a little personal.

First, let’s call her a name, “Hannah,” and add some additional demographic information to the mix:

Hannah is the Director of HR for a software company located in North America that has between 100 and 5000 employees. Hannah is female, age 35-55, and lives in the suburbs with her spouse and two college-aged children.

Better, right? But it’s still not enough. Not by a mile.

What’s missing from this buyer persona description is psychographic data: information about Hannah’s attitude, interests, personality, values, opinions, and lifestyle.

Add that, and you have something that’s actually useful. Here’s what a good buyer persona description might look like for Hannah:

Hannah is the Director of HR for a software company located in North America that has between 100 and 5000 employees. Hannah is continually looking for solutions to keep employees connected and happy because she is partially measured on employee turnover. Hannah is female, age 35-55, and lives in the suburbs with her spouse and two college-aged children. She’s outgoing and personable — the type of person who lights up a room. Hannah goes to the internet to seek solutions for every type of problem she encounters, but she also highly trusts referrals from her peers and professional organizations when it comes to making business decisions. Social media is her go-to resource for news and current trends. Due to her very busy schedule, Hannah tends to use her smartphone more than her laptop, and getting her on a call during business hours is nearly impossible. You’re likely to hear from Hannah via email after 8pm when she’s catching up the day. The later it is, the more emojis you can expect in her communications.

With the addition of some psychographic data, you’ve got a deeper understanding of what Hannah cares most about, and the best ways to communicate with her.

Imagine if you didn’t know these details about Hannah and you kept leaving voicemail messages at her office or sending her large files that she couldn’t easily read on her phone.

RELATED: 7 Steps to Sales Content Mastery

By creating a more complete picture of Hannah, you’ve made it much easier to sell to her (and anyone who fits her profile).

Keep in mind, though, you can’t create an effective persona from a vacuum. Take time to do live interviews, so your persona descriptions are accurate.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort. With a good buyer persona in hand, it’s easier to serve customers throughout their buying journey.

How to Create a Buyer Persona for Sales

  1. Do live customer interviews
  2. Create a persona description
  3. Make a quick-reference card for sales reps
  4. Add personas to your sales engagement tool

Step 1: Do Live Customer Interviews

You need to talk to living, breathing people who use (and love) your product. That’s the only way to understand the “types” of people who are most likely to buy in the future.

Information you’ll need to collect:

  • Persona name
  • Role
  • Company information
      • Industry/type of company
      • Location
      • Size
  • Persona’s challenge/need
      • Why it’s important
  • Demographics:
      • Gender
      • Age
      • Location (ie., suburbs, city, etc.)
      • Family size and type
  • Psychographics
      • Personality (ie., outgoing, friendly, quiet, etc.)
      • How it manifests
  • Habits/Decision-making criteria
      • Goes where to find solutions?
      • Makes decisions how?
      • Goes where to find news and trends?
  • Communication habits
      • Technology used
      • How/when calls are made
      • How/when emails are done
      • Communication style

RELATED: UX Research: What We Learned by Talking to Our Audience 

Step 2: Create a Persona Description

You need to flesh out what this persona looks like. Use the template below, and fill in the information you gathered from your live interviews.

Keep in mind, this is just a guide. Personalize it to fit your customers and your business.

Template: Persona Description

[Name] is the [Role] for a [industry/type] company located in [geolocation] that has [size] employees. [Name] is continually looking for solutions to [challenge/need] because [why it’s important].

[Name] is [gender], [age], and lives [location] with her [family type] of [family size/details]. She’s [personality] — the type of person who [how it manifests].

[Name] goes to [where] to seek solutions for every type of problem she encounters, but she also trusts [decision-making criteria/source] when it comes to making business decisions. [News source] is her go-to resource for news and current trends.

[Name] tends to use [technology used], and getting her on a call requires [how/when calls are made]. You’re likely to hear from Hannah via email [how/when emails are done]. [Communication style]

Step 3: Create a Quick-Reference Buyer Persona Battle Card

Every sales rep needs a 1-page reference that includes the description and other key details about your persona.

Something like this:

buyer persona template

To create your buyer persona battle card, you can create a Google Doc that’s stored in a Persona folder… use Canva to create an infographic type card like the one above… or have your graphics team create something that’s exactly right for you.

The point is to make the most relevant research about your customers available in a quick-reference format.

Step 4: Add Personas to Your Sale Engagement Platform

Once your buyer persona research is done, you need to make it easy to use. The best way to do that is to build personas into your salesperson’s workflow.

TIP: Include persona details in your sales engagement platform, so the information will be available right there within the salesperson’s communication activities.

buyer persona on outreach

Sales engagement platforms include information such as best time of day to call, what communication channels have been most effective, and more.

Once your persona research has been done, you don’t have to guess which sales communication methods will engage the buyer. You’ll already know.

Better still…

Once you understand how to communicate with a persona, you can automate it through your sales engagement platform. That’s going to help you send messages at unprecedented speed and scale, and gather data-driven insights that help you close deals faster.

RELATED: Best 150+ Sales Tools: The Complete List

Using Your Buyer Persona in the Sales Process

A good salesperson knows that initial discovery can make or break a sale. Effective discovery provides a sales rep with critical details that will help that rep not only meet the buyer where he or she is on their journey, but also more accurately qualify and forecast the opportunity.

With buyer persona research at your fingertips, you’ll have a general idea of what’s going to be most relevant to a person before having your first conversation with them.

Remember, the buyer persona won’t replace sales discovery, but it will save you time. With your Persona Battle Card in hand, you can go into a discovery call with:

  • a basic idea of the buyer’s pains
  • how he or she measures success
  • what he or she values

Not only that, it will help you tailor your communications to the buyer’s preferences.

Make Personas Part of Your Process

Today, sales success depends on keeping your customers at the center of your efforts. That’s why it’s important to have well-researched, well-documented buyer personas.

But they won’t work if you don’t use them. So do the research, create your personas, and then make them easily accessible.

Jen Spencer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for SmartBug Media™, a globally recognized Intelligent Inbound™ marketing agency of experts in digital strategy, design, PR and marketing automation. Over her career, Jen has built several demand generation and sales enablement programs from the ground up and has experience working within tech startups, publicly traded companies, mid-market organizations, and the not-for-profit space.