5 Ideal Customer Profile Mistakes That Break B2B Sales Strategies

Dec 7, 2020
Author: Richard Conn

When you’re running a business, you need a thorough understanding of your customer base and how you can reach it effectively. It helps, of course, if you have the right marketing communication tools. For example, B2B affiliate marketing can help you reach out to people who might otherwise have never heard of your business, its products, and services.

But before you can start to reach your would-be customers, you need to understand who they are – and who it is you’re supposed to be targeting. Some businesses undertake finely detailed market research to help them make sense of the different segments of the consumer market. Obviously, however, for other businesses – particularly small firms – paying for this kind of research just isn’t an option.

This is why customer profiling might come in particularly useful. In case you haven’t already heard of this technique, it involves – as the name might suggest – creating profiles of typical types of customers.

Grouping clients and their buyers into different sections like this helps businesses get a better understanding of who they’re trying to appeal to, and it allows them to put out tailored marketing messages, for instance on B2B platforms.

Your business could have the most efficient skills-based routing or the best workforce optimization system, but without an intimate knowledge of its customers, it’ll be at a major disadvantage compared to its rivals. You need to devote the time to really research the different elements of your client base and develop an understanding of how you can appeal to it – and where you can find it.

Indeed, you’d be amazed by just how many businesses fail to do this. Even many of those that undertake customer profiling research make basic errors that undermine the effectiveness of the whole exercise. In this guide, we’ll first discuss the benefits of customer profiling and then we’ll go on to list five common mistakes that you must avoid when profiling your own clients.

Benefits of Customer Profiling

When it’s done the right way, customer profiling can help you attract new customers and deepen your bonds with existing ones. A detailed understanding of your business’s customers – in all their diversity – is an absolute prerequisite for succeeding in today’s highly competitive commercial environment. Whichever line of business you’re in, whether it’s online retail or selling planning software, this is a hard and fast rule.

Of course, businesses have always tried to profile potential and existing customers. But with the plethora of data at our disposal today, it’s possible to do so in much greater detail than we could previously. Now we can delve deep into consumer data to understand their behavior and their preferences. This enhanced understanding can in turn help us deploy small business automation much more effectively so that it enhances the overall customer experience.

It’s especially important to understand that clients are better informed – and more demanding – than they’ve ever been before. They have much more choice (largely thanks to the internet) and they can also do more to damage brand reputation if they feel they’ve had a bad experience. This makes it all the more important to meet their expectations.

To meet those expectations, however, you first need to work out what they are. The whole point of collecting data is that it can provide us with hard evidence about what existing and potential clients are looking for, and how our own products and services might fit in with their own objectives.

Your messaging needs to take account of this, and effective segmentation enables you to target that messaging to different groups of clients and buyers, so as to encourage them further along the sales pipeline.

Customer profiling, then, allows for in-depth segmentation and precise B2B sales targeting. This is likely to prove far more effective than a scattershot approach to messaging which fails to appreciate the different aspirations, needs, and interests of individual clients. Targeted messaging informed by client or buyer profiles also helps you save money and get more bang for your buck when it comes to B2B marketing.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Profiling Customers

With all that in mind, we now need to look at what you shouldn’t do when you’re undertaking customer profiling. Here are five of the most common mistakes businesses make when they’re creating customer or buyer profiles, and why it’s so important for you to avoid them.

1) Making profiles too unfocused

One error that businesses frequently make when drawing up customer profiles is to make them too broad and unfocused. They may try to cram too many elements into a single profile, thereby making it somewhat incoherent. This inevitably makes it essentially useless for understanding how consumers actually behave, and how they relate to your business, in the real world.

Client and buyer profiles must correspond, albeit roughly, to real-life client and buyer types. Obviously, it’s never an exact science, and there’s inevitably some looseness involved. However, as we’ve already noted, there’s more data at our disposal than ever before. This allows us to create customer and buyer profiles which are genuinely useful, and help us to understand who we’re trying to sell to, and how we might do so, more effectively.

It’s especially important to understand that clients are better informed – and more demanding – than they’ve ever been before. They have much more choice (largely thanks to the internet) and they can also do more to damage brand reputation if they feel they’ve had a bad experience. This makes it all the more important to meet their expectations.

2) Failing to talk to real customers

When you’re creating a customer profile, you need to give due care and attention to the research behind it. Your personas need to be based on thorough study. This includes the kind of customer data we’ve already referred to, but it should have some actual input from consumers and buyers too. Take the opportunity to speak to people and get a better idea of what they’re looking for.

Convene a focus group, put a survey together on social media, or speak to buyers from a selection of your clients. You might find that offering rewards for their time, or incentives for participation, earns you more responses. This will enable you to put together ideal customer profiles far closer to the real-life clients you’re trying to understand better. Too many businesses fail to do this.

3) Not creating ‘no-go’ profiles

This is a mistake that businesses very often make, but it’s one that’s very easy to avoid. When you’re creating client or buyer profiles, you should think not just about those who will buy your products or services, but those who won’t. Chasing prospects who are only ever likely to prove fruitless is a big waste of time and money. Customer profiling can help you save yourself the trouble.

Create ‘no-go’ client or buyer profiles. In other words, personas of clients or buyers who aren’t likely to take a serious interest in what you have to offer. Again, there’s bound to be a degree of flexibility involved. But these profiles can serve as a useful guide and spare you unnecessary effort that isn’t likely to be rewarded with sales and revenue.

4) Teams becoming siloed

You need to remember that creating customer or buyer personas shouldn’t solely be the concern of your marketing or sales team. Of course, they should be the ones who lead the process. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be marketing and selling whatever it is your business has to offer. But it’s also a good idea to bring in the insights of staff from other teams and departments, to see what they can contribute.

It can be dangerous and counterproductive when teams become siloed and separated from one another. Broad collaboration is, after all, the stimulus behind real creativity – and closely aligned sales and marketing can drive increased revenue. Employees who work on teams other than sales and marketing will see things from a different perspective, and might be able to provide ideas and suggestions others wouldn’t think of.

5) Failing to measure effectiveness

Once you’ve created your profiles and then put them to use, you must make sure that you measure their effectiveness. Again, too many businesses create client and buyer profiles and then give them barely a second thought. But if you aren’t going to use your profiles, there’s no point wasting time and effort on them. This work must have a concrete impact on your B2B sales strategies, rendering them sharper and more precise.

So, once you’ve got your profiles and you’re making use of them in terms of your marketing efforts – meaning your messaging and how you use it – you also need to measure which clients or buyers interact with you, and how. Measuring performance is always hugely important in order to maximize productivity, and the same rule applies here.

You should also measure and review your client and buyer personas periodically based on this information. You can then adjust them (or replace them) according to how effective, or otherwise, they prove to be.

Conclusion

It might be that you’re relatively new to running your own business. You may, for example, still be getting your head around how VoIP works or getting to grips with CPaaS’ meaning for your company. It’s possible, therefore, that you’ve already found yourself making some of the mistakes listed above. But that’s not a disaster, and you can soon make up for it.

Hopefully, this post has given you some food for thought for when you next create customer or buyer profiles. Not only can creating these profiles be a revealing and thought-provoking process, it can help drive the additional sales and revenue which could give your business a vital competitive advantage over its rivals.

Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and VoiP Phone Service. He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia.

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