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A key part of marketing's job is to create sales-enablement tools that help the sales organization improve their effectives in generating revenue and increasing customer acquisition. This article explores the use of personas as a sales-enablement tool and discusses what personas are, why they are useful, and how to create them. The information from the article enables companies to develop and use personas—to give salespeople insight into the specific behaviors, expectations, and motivations of specific users and buyers in the buying process.

Marketing professionals are responsible for three things: finding new profitable customers, keeping profitable customers, and growing the value of those customers. We share the first responsibility—finding new profitable customers—with another revenue-generating arm of the company: the sales organization.

To attract new clients and to grow existing accounts, your sales and delivery teams must be able to articulate the business benefits. Research suggests that, for many sales organizations, a disproportionate amount of revenue is driven by a relatively small percentage of the sales force. Sales executives are constantly challenged to secure a greater contribution from average and lower performers. Often, sales executives try to implement a common sales methodology that leverages the processes used by the high performers. This process is known as sales enablement, and it is a key factor in accelerating customer acquisition.

For these processes to be successful, every salesperson must have the knowledge on how to handle different selling situations, such as how to position against a particular competitor and how to communicate a value proposition to each person in the buying process. The sales organization relies on marketing to create the tools to support the sales enablement process.

The purpose of these tools is to help the sales organization improve its effectiveness in generating revenue and earnings. Marketing and Sales need to collaborate with each other to ensure that appropriate materials and tools are created and properly distributed. Examples of sales enablement include tracking and disseminating best practices, providing case studies, and, more recently, creating personas.

In fact a recent study by MarketingSherpa found that 40% of business technology hardware marketers, 22% of software marketers, and 19% of professional services companies are now using personas as a sales-enablement tool. This article was written to help marketers understand what a persona is, how to create one, and how to use personas as a selling tool.

What Are Personas?

Personas are archetypal users that represent the needs of larger groups of customers, in terms of their goals and personal characteristics. Think of them as "stand-ins" for real customers. A persona seeks to zero-in on customer behavior and characteristics. A persona is a concise description of a specific customer type.

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM