636: How to Create Prospect Personas w/ Wayne Cerullo

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Wayne Cerullo, Chief Connection Officer at B2P Partners.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/waynecerullo/

Wouldn't it be nice to have severalfault leaders in your industry know and Love Your brand? Start a podcast,invite your industries thought leaders to be guests on your show and start reaping thebenefits of having a network full of industry influencers. Learn more at sweet fishMediacom. You're listening to the BE TOB growth show, podcast dedicated to helpingbe to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategiesor tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Greenand I'm James Carberry. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to theBB growth show. We are here today with Wayne Serrulo. He is thechief connection officer at BTP partners. Wayne, how you doing today? Excellent,glad to be here. I am excited chat with you today. Wayne. We're going to be talking about prospect personas that make a difference and there'sthree specific things we're going to be diving into today. But before we dothat, I'd love for our listeners just have a little bit of context aboutyou and and what your company, bet too p partners does. So ifyou could just explain a little bit of context for us, I'd be great, great things. Well, you'll notice that be to be and be topare very similar but a little bit different, and there's the purpose to that.That wasn't random. So BTP is a marketing strategy firm for a beto be firms who are selling in complex environments, and our mission is tomake be to be more powerful by making it more personal. So our experiencecomes from working with companies like seamen's, Microsoft, Intel, Baxter, CityBank, visa, etc. But our passion is really using prospect insights tohelp mid to your challenger companies compete effectively...

...against those giants. And so sothat that being said, Wayne, it makes a lot of sense why thisis a topic that is right in your will house. And so, aswe talk about these prospect personas, the first idea that you brought up offlineis this idea that prospect intelligence is either a competitive advantage or a vulnerability.Can you elaborate on that force a bit. Sure this really is the question.Why are we having this conversation? I mean, who cares? Yeah, and our view of Persona's is that they are the embodiment of what ismost valuable to that company. There it's most precious asset. It's the differencebetween having a product and having a market, because the most important people to yourcompany aren't in your company, and so being able to connect with thepeople upon whom your success relies is absolutely critical, and that is either acompetitive advantage or vulnerability. We in marketing today. You know, we havelots of tricks and tips. We've got MARTEC everywhere, and so there's alot of things that we're focused on, but unless we understand who it isthat we're trying to influence and how we're trying to do that effectively, allthose things are just noise. And it's more complicated today than it's ever beenbecause, and this is true of all the industries in which we work,the average product is purchased by five point or individuals, and that only growsas the size and complexity of the product increases. In the size of thecompany is larger. So we have a very challenging job as marketers to bringpeople not only to notice our product and to favorite but also to create aconsensus around it, and one of the...

...companies that we've worked with really bringsthat story alive. I mentioned we've worked with really big companies, but thisis a tiny company that guarantee on the snow one's heard of but they weregoing up in the industry of data backup, which even for ITP pople, wasnot exciting. That that's going to be a problem. And they're goingup against you know, IBM EMC and all those, you know, giganticTla's, and they are a small company with a limited budget. So thisis a it's I wanted to tell you this story as an example of prospectintelligence because is an example of where you need to compete smarterr you can't justcompete bigger. They were unfortunately positioning themselves as the cloud backup experts, whichwas really smart, because they had, in fact it kind of invented cloudbackup. They were selling a technical product to a technical audience through technical channels. So I love this story because it's one of those cases where you wouldsay, well, these are the last people in the world who need todo any persona research. I mean they knew the middle names of all oftheir customers. So they were unfortunately wrong about their assumptions about why people boughtand and how to get a meeting in that really became apparent when they triedto move up stream into the enterprise. So we did research with them thatpersona research that we're going to talk about that provided prospect intelligence around how peoplebought on the enterprise. And, you know, very quickly it became clearthat talking about cloud was a no no and backup was boring. So weneeded to find a new way of positioning the company. What we did wasidentify what we call the key prospect insight, and that's the core truth that connectsyour prospects with your product. And...

...in this case what we found wasthat while backup was dull, the threat of data loss and the time toget back up were critical and strategic, and they could get meetings by talkingabout recovery rather than backup. So that was a key prospect insight to understandwhat was motivating their prospects and actually allowed to turn a vulnerability into a competitiveadvantage. And so what Wayne, what did you guys do to go aboutgetting that insight? Was it just you having having conversations with existing customers,asking the right questions? What did you guys do to go about getting thatfree question? Thanks. We identified the companies that they wanted to win,not their current customers, while those are lovely people, they really needed tounderstand in depth how people thought in the enterprise of whose doors they were notable to open. So we very carefully handpicked a dozen of those folks.We conducted both in depth individual interviews as well as focus groups at different stagesin the repositioning development process. And the way that we do things as wenever do use a questionnaire, we never do a standard interview. What wealways view these as are exploratory conversations. So we start with understanding how eachof these CIOS actos spend their day, what does the role of this wholetopics fill in their overall agenda, and then how do they go about makingdecisions within it? And then, finally, you know, talking about some specificideas and some specific companies within that context. But we have found thatto be an incredible way, to tell you another story later about how thatopens up people's eyes and minds of the...

...company as well as the prospects.Okay, so this next piece that we're going to touch on, lane,you said that persona use continues to evolve in BB marketing. Explain that forus. Well, I specifically say evolved because, as you can tell,we're passionate about this and we're so passionate actually, that we we focus onwhat we call prospect personas. We the standard industry term is by our personas, which is totally great, except that not everyone's a buyer and in vtbyou'll know that only a minority of the people that you actually interact with andwho influence the decisions actually would be considered that decision maker or the buyer.But if you don't get the other influencers and researchers and blockers, you're notgoing to get through, you're not going to get a decision and, asI said at the start, you need to create a consensus. Simply gettinga champion isn't going to get you where you need to go. So,having said that, the use of personas evolved, and we know that throughindustry serve research that we conduct. We've just completed are the third year ofthis annual industry survey, and a couple points that I'm that your listeners mightbe interested in, and we're happy to share results of the survey if youcontact us, is that use of personas would be to be marketers, hasincreased from about half about two years ago or so to about two thirds now. So it's they're pretty common and the good news is that they're having moreimpact. One of the things we look at is whether the persona has creatednew insights or corrected faulty assumptions. And similarly the proportion who said that theyhave contributed in that way went from about half to about seventy percent, sayingthat personas now helped them discover new insights...

...or correct faulty assumptions. Problem isthat about a quarter say they're still not respected in their organization, and Iwould say maybe the key point that we found is is the next one thatin theise. Are Just a few of the highlights. that the difference betweenbeing able to create new insights and create value and not is whether or notthe marketer actually created conducted quality external persona research. So if they did conductexternal research on personas directly, the chances of those personas creating new insights withninety two percent. If they did not do that kind of research, thechance of new insights and and learning and respect was eleven percent. So hugedifference there and as a result, last tidbit that might be interesting to listenersis that personas are being used for more and more applications. Most marketers inthe BB world are now using them for things like targeting, positioning, contentmarketing, but what we're starting to see is that about half of those marketersare now using them in areas like sales engagement, go to market planning,marketing automation. And I particularly love seeing more marketers using personas in sales alignmentand marketing because it allows sales and marketing to come together in more than azero sum game. Like your point of view and my point of view,when we come together around a clear perception of who prospects are and how theybought and we're able to reveal to the sales departments things that they would nothear because they're in a sales mode and people will tell us things they won'ttell the sales people, then that just creates a whole new level of trust, respect and interaction that I think is...

...very exciting. That is super interesting. I've talked with folks in the past about just the impact that that externalresearch can have, and so it's talking to you and is just an affirmingbut you know, you can't listen to this conversation and and not by inthe fact that that type of that level of research clearly has an impact.What do you think keeps organizations from taking the step to actually get that researchdone? Excellent question. The first thing is what I intimated with the firststory, which is we know this already, we don't need to spend the timeor effort on that. Second, I would say, is a misperceptionof what is involved. We operate in a very agile method which allows usto get a lot of learning in a short period of time and remarkably littlemoney, I might add. So it can be done more efficiently than isoften thought. Another is that there's not enough of an understanding of bound outthe difference that it can make and, as a result, we've actually justwritten a book on the difference that Personas can make. So, knowing someof those case studies, I really can open people's eyes to the fact thatthere are lots of people, and I would say you know, most ofthe companies that we work with, start out thinking that this isn't really somethingthey need to be doing and then once they do it and they discover whatthey didn't know, they didn't know, then it just opens up a wholenew environment and perhaps last of all, is it brings some energy into theconversation. I mean, rather than our painting over our windows and thinking thatthat's what the outside world looks like, actually going out and looking at thetheme, at the House we live in...

...from the outside in simply by itselfbrings a new perspective, brings some fresh energy and allows people to work togetherin a way that they otherwise wouldn't, where they're not kind of a newsource of insights in the conversation. Okay, when in this this last point thatwe're going to touch on before I let you go today, you mentionedthat real personas do make a real difference. Can you explain what that means?Sure. So we've been at this for a while. We've been,you know, seeing people use and misuse personas for, you know, morethan a dozen years, and so one of the things I wanted to dojust to be able to encourage us all to stay true and to stick withyou know, what we really know to be important in appealing to those companies, that to those humans who are the most important to our company because they'reoutside our company, is to put together the stories of companies that have gonethrough this process and see what difference that makes. So we just wrote abook called Personas With Punch, which is a story of half dozen companies thathave really made a difference with personas. It's not about the tactics of howto create personas, it's really about the story of impact that personas can makeand I wanted it to end with a story. We started with a storyabout a small company. This is about a really big company. I'm notgoing to identify them, but they were were in the hospital equipment of brandand had been the leading brand at one point and now definitely we're not.When we were meeting with them and they were they were last in what arecalled class ratings, which are, in the healthcare arena, the way thatcompanies get ranked, and they needed to...

...break out very quickly. So wedid research on how people buy Ivy pump systems and who are the personas thatare involved. So in this case we actually had to go to five differentfunctions within the company, and this story is in the book, and understandwhat are the benefit chains for each of those individuals and those functions as theyconsider this thing called an Ivy pump system. You know, from from the nurseto the IT director, you know it's a wide range of perspective.So we need to understand each of those and how they work together, maptheir journey and how to create a consensus to get a buying decision. Well, as a result of that, the company was able to kind of gain, regain their footing and get going. But the reason I tell you thatstory is tell you this one, which is in the process of doing thoseinterviews and by not using a questionnaire, by not assuming that we knew allthe things that we needed to know, we actively listened and heard a tinycompetitor be mentioned multiple times as just a factor in the business. So whatwe did was recommend to the company that we do some additional research on thepeople who were the the customers of that company to find out what made themset which a valued partner. And by going back and doing this wind lossfor search, we identified that, beyond the product, it was the processand the people that were just so critical to the onboarding process. So itwent beyond our original set of questions and as a result I'm thankful and exultantto say that the company ended up restaffing their implementation teams, reorganizing how theyon boarded and went from giving away the...

...on boarding service to actually charging forit, which is pretty remarkable. And the reason I tell you all thatis that at the end of that process they went from worst to first inclass readings. So the story that I just told, and it's one ofthe six and in the book, is about a company that applied the powerof personas not just in the marketing realm, but actually in the entire customer successand sales realm in a way that changed the entire success of the company. So I just want to encourage us all to stick with what we knowto be true in the marketing world and to focus on our personas and thepeople who's in whose hands are fate lies. Way this is this has been incredible. How can folk go about getting access to the survey that you mentioned, as well as the book that you just finished up? Sure, so, if they just want to send me an email to get started at betwopPartnerscom, get started at BOP partners, I'd be glad to send them whateverit is that they're interested in. They can check us out on the website. Of course. Be Top partners we're on twitter at amazingly be to pepartners and consistency has its advantages. So, yeah, happy to encourage anyone andanswer questions. Just want to help see marketing take the leadership role thatit's ought that it ought to. I'll to send with this. One ofthe beautiful things about what we do is that I think we're really in thebusiness, all of us, and I really appreciate what you do, James, of helping companies rediscuss, rediscover the purpose for which they were created.And actually, if you go to the Latin Word Company, it actually meansto break bread together, and I think...

...that's what we need to be doinganymore of. I love it we're making a butt a big emphasis on thatin our business, trying to create create real community, kind of facetoface communitywith some dinners that we're planning with guests and and and listeners in different partsof the country this year, because I believe the same thing that when wewhen we think about relationships with our customers in that way, I think Ijust think everybody, everybody, wins when we really want to have that levelof of depth in a relationship with the people that we serve. I thinkit just is as ends up being an all around when so I appreciate yourtime today way and this has been fantastic. So I really appreciate it. MeAwesome. Thank you. Glad to hear what you're doing and I supportthat as well. There are lots of ways to build a community and we'vechosen to build the BEDB growth community through this podcast. But because of theway podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagementit's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. Nosales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will TalkBusiness, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BEDB growth dinner ina sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's beto be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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