Many B2B companies embark on sales and marketing efforts with nothing short of a shotgun approach to the market. Understanding your specific target market buyer journey and specific personas of your prospects are both incredibly crucial elements that are often overlooked. Unfortunately, half of all business-to-business firms who DO NOT create buyer personas and buyer journey maps say they have a firm grasp on truly understanding their target audience. The other half are likely fooling themselves by relying on their “gut” or intuition, rather than research and data.

Building detailed B2B personas and buyer journey road maps is key to having a deep understanding of your target customer. In a perfect world, or one that is at least heading in an effective direction, these highly researched documents provide B2B’s with in-depth insights into who they are marketing to, what their fears and challenges are. Most importantly buyer journey maps and audience personas give marketers the needed data that should be used to drive their content marketing efforts.

In the digital age of B2B sales and marketing the key components that drive purchase decisions for SaaS, cloud and other business products and services are all digital. Whether your marketing efforts fall within the prospect discovery, engagement, demand generation or lead development, it all happens online today. Even B2B brands who’s products and services are not digital in nature, the purchase journey for business decision makers is. Therefore B2B’s need to spend more time understanding their prospects before pushing marketing and sales efforts forward.

How B2B Personas Impact Your Sales and Marketing:

When trying to understand the challenges, benefits and data surrounding B2B buyer and journey maps, it all boils down to a commitment and investment toward doing the research. As one of the most challenging and time consuming components of B2B sales and marketing, persona development can often be compiled with haste or put on the back burner altogether for some organizations. Yet even though the process can be heavily labor intensive, the end results will undoubtedly improve targeting, content and lead generation. Here are some stats on that.

A 2016 Cintell Research Report garnered the following B2B statistics that should not be overlooked. The main factors that prevent B2B marketers from building and using personas effectively:

1. Getting the entire organization to value personas

2. Validating the persona insights with quantitative measures

3. Training teams how to leverage personas in their daily activities

4. Finding third-party data to aid persona creation

The benchmark study went further to note that “71% of B2B companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas vs. 37% of B2B’s who simply meet goals and 26% who miss them.”

A November study by Akoonu also supports the fact that B2B brands that have and use detailed personas and buyer journey maps have a guide to creating better content! Here are the activities B2B companies engage in to better understand their customer personas and buying journeys:

48% said building buyer’s journey maps
47% said interviewing customers
47% said interviewing Sales
42% said building buyer personas
33% said interviewing internal subject matter experts (something that is often overlooked)
32% said reading trade publications
27% said interviewing Client Services
28% said attending events like webinars and trade shows
26% said reading analyst reports

I have always said that knowledge is NOT power, but rather using the knowledge you have is where power comes from. Yet from the information in these recent studies, it is clear that many B2B brands are missing the persona and purchase journey mapping that can have a dramatic impact on their marketing, sales and net revenues. Furthermore, those that are doing the difficult task of researching, developing and USING B2B buyer personas are reaping the benefits from the investment.