By this point, it’s not exactly groundbreaking to emphasize how important it is for sales and dial to get clarity of the view of buyersmarketing teams to develop a clear understanding of the different buyer roles involved with purchasing their products / solutions. It’s also nothing new to suggest that properly aligning the entire go-to-market organization’s efforts based on that shared understanding is just as critical to your success. These are well known issues that are recognized by sales and marketing leaders, and the topic of many articles, blog posts, and best practices.

My objective with this post is to describe a framework to assess the level of clarity and alignment your organization has when targeting go-to-market investments towards the prospective buyers in the market. The framework is intended to be a guide to help you assess areas for improvement in existing operations, or to assist you with developing effective strategies for a new market.

8 things to develop to truly understand your target buyers

1. Focus

True focus requires an unequivocal prioritization of the different buyer roles and types in your target customer segments. That will make it very clear how resources (time, efforts, and investment) should be allocated by each part of your go-to-market organization to each buyer role or type, accordingly. This prioritization is based on a systematic combination of factors that include, but are not limited to, the buyer’s:

  • Influence in the organization
  • Importance in the buying process
  • Affinity to new products
  • Motivations or deterrence
  • Accessibility, etc.

2. Clarity

The first step to clarity is documenting descriptions of the target buyers in your target segment that are clear and unambiguously defined with as little jargon as possible.

3. Validation

Verifying that the definition and prioritization of the target buyers is consistent with your overall go-to-market strategy and goals, either by conducting market research or by analyzing past business performance.

4. Coverage

Your official documentation of your target buyers should cover the following:

  • All relevant and important buyer roles
  • Their needs
  • Their motivation
  • Their decision-making style
  • Buying behavior
  • Typical stages in buyer journeys
  • The context for these observations

This will allow your your go-to-market organization to directly utilize your knowledge and documentation in a meaningful, scalable way. In particular, your team will be able to use your documentation to target each of the most important buyers with differentiated messages and offers.

5. Specificity

Your documentation of buyers in your target segment should clearly define any variations in buyer types or roles. The goal is to identify any substantially distinct characteristics that are important to how your go-to-market organization will be able to interact with, interest, and win them as customers.

Buyers should be defined by any observable characteristics that are effective in differentiating the distinct buyers roles and types within a given target customer segment.

6. Alignment

Your definition framework and prioritization of target buyers needs to be clearly communicated and accepted throughout your organization. All buyer-facing business units — sales, marketing, customer support, professional services, etc. — should use the same set of information to develop their initiatives, and build goals that incorporate these insights.

Some teams may even have specific goals or initiatives targeted at an individual buyer role or type as defined by this documentation.

7. Systematic research

Your definition framework and prioritization should be supported by a systematic research project that includes unbiased data collection and analysis (via primary or secondary research techniques) as well as insights gained by customer-facing teams and consultation with experts in the market.

This process should be documented and repeated on a regular basis to ensure that the organization’s understanding of the buyers always incorporates developments in rapidly evolving markets.

8. Confidence

This is essential. An integrated, cross-team plan to go-to-market will not succeed unless it is executed with a strong level of conviction and belief in its strategic soundness and actionability. You and your teams should have high confidence in both the definition of target buyers and your teams’ ability to execute a successful go-to-market strategy against them.

In my next post, I will venture to create a list of self-assessing questions that you can use with your teams to gauge your own organization’s clarity on your buyers along the line of this framework.