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 several fault 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 the benefits of having a network full of industry influencers. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the BE TOB growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. We are here today with Wayne Serrulo. He is the chief 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's three specific things we're going to be diving into today. But before we do that, I'd love for our listeners just have a little bit of context about you and and what your company, bet too p partners does. So if you 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 top are 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 be to be firms who are selling in complex environments, and our mission is to make be to be more powerful by making it more personal. So our experience comes from working with companies like seamen's, Microsoft, Intel, Baxter, City Bank, visa, etc. But our passion is really using prospect insights to help mid to your challenger companies compete effectively...

...against those giants. And so so that that being said, Wayne, it makes a lot of sense why this is a topic that is right in your will house. And so, as we talk about these prospect personas, the first idea that you brought up offline is 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 is most valuable to that company. There it's most precious asset. It's the difference between having a product and having a market, because the most important people to your company aren't in your company, and so being able to connect with the people upon whom your success relies is absolutely critical, and that is either a competitive advantage or vulnerability. We in marketing today. You know, we have lots of tricks and tips. We've got MARTEC everywhere, and so there's a lot of things that we're focused on, but unless we understand who it is that we're trying to influence and how we're trying to do that effectively, all those things are just noise. And it's more complicated today than it's ever been because, 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 grows as the size and complexity of the product increases. In the size of the company is larger. So we have a very challenging job as marketers to bring people not only to notice our product and to favorite but also to create a consensus around it, and one of the...

...companies that we've worked with really brings that story alive. I mentioned we've worked with really big companies, but this is a tiny company that guarantee on the snow one's heard of but they were going up in the industry of data backup, which even for ITP pople, was not exciting. That that's going to be a problem. And they're going up against you know, IBM EMC and all those, you know, gigantic Tla's, and they are a small company with a limited budget. So this is a it's I wanted to tell you this story as an example of prospect intelligence because is an example of where you need to compete smarterr you can't just compete bigger. They were unfortunately positioning themselves as the cloud backup experts, which was really smart, because they had, in fact it kind of invented cloud backup. 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 would say, well, these are the last people in the world who need to do any persona research. I mean they knew the middle names of all of their customers. So they were unfortunately wrong about their assumptions about why people bought and and how to get a meeting in that really became apparent when they tried to move up stream into the enterprise. So we did research with them that persona research that we're going to talk about that provided prospect intelligence around how people bought on the enterprise. And, you know, very quickly it became clear that talking about cloud was a no no and backup was boring. So we needed to find a new way of positioning the company. What we did was identify what we call the key prospect insight, and that's the core truth that connects your prospects with your product. And...

...in this case what we found was that while backup was dull, the threat of data loss and the time to get back up were critical and strategic, and they could get meetings by talking about recovery rather than backup. So that was a key prospect insight to understand what was motivating their prospects and actually allowed to turn a vulnerability into a competitive advantage. And so what Wayne, what did you guys do to go about getting 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 that free question? Thanks. We identified the companies that they wanted to win, not their current customers, while those are lovely people, they really needed to understand in depth how people thought in the enterprise of whose doors they were not able 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 stages in the repositioning development process. And the way that we do things as we never do use a questionnaire, we never do a standard interview. What we always view these as are exploratory conversations. So we start with understanding how each of these CIOS actos spend their day, what does the role of this whole topics fill in their overall agenda, and then how do they go about making decisions within it? And then, finally, you know, talking about some specific ideas and some specific companies within that context. But we have found that to be an incredible way, to tell you another story later about how that opens 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 for us. 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 on what 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 vtb you'll know that only a minority of the people that you actually interact with and who 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 not going to get through, you're not going to get a decision and, as I said at the start, you need to create a consensus. Simply getting a 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 through industry serve research that we conduct. We've just completed are the third year of this annual industry survey, and a couple points that I'm that your listeners might be interested in, and we're happy to share results of the survey if you contact us, is that use of personas would be to be marketers, has increased 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 more impact. One of the things we look at is whether the persona has created new insights or corrected faulty assumptions. And similarly the proportion who said that they have contributed in that way went from about half to about seventy percent, saying that personas now helped them discover new insights...

...or correct faulty assumptions. Problem is that about a quarter say they're still not respected in their organization, and I would say maybe the key point that we found is is the next one that in theise. Are Just a few of the highlights. that the difference between being able to create new insights and create value and not is whether or not the marketer actually created conducted quality external persona research. So if they did conduct external research on personas directly, the chances of those personas creating new insights with ninety two percent. If they did not do that kind of research, the chance of new insights and and learning and respect was eleven percent. So huge difference there and as a result, last tidbit that might be interesting to listeners is that personas are being used for more and more applications. Most marketers in the BB world are now using them for things like targeting, positioning, content marketing, but what we're starting to see is that about half of those marketers are 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 alignment and marketing because it allows sales and marketing to come together in more than a zero 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 they bought and we're able to reveal to the sales departments things that they would not hear because they're in a sales mode and people will tell us things they won't tell 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 external research can have, and so it's talking to you and is just an affirming but you know, you can't listen to this conversation and and not by in the 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 research done? Excellent question. The first thing is what I intimated with the first story, which is we know this already, we don't need to spend the time or effort on that. Second, I would say, is a misperception of what is involved. We operate in a very agile method which allows us to get a lot of learning in a short period of time and remarkably little money, I might add. So it can be done more efficiently than is often thought. Another is that there's not enough of an understanding of bound out the difference that it can make and, as a result, we've actually just written a book on the difference that Personas can make. So, knowing some of those case studies, I really can open people's eyes to the fact that there are lots of people, and I would say you know, most of the companies that we work with, start out thinking that this isn't really something they need to be doing and then once they do it and they discover what they didn't know, they didn't know, then it just opens up a whole new environment and perhaps last of all, is it brings some energy into the conversation. I mean, rather than our painting over our windows and thinking that that's what the outside world looks like, actually going out and looking at the theme, at the House we live in...

...from the outside in simply by itself brings a new perspective, brings some fresh energy and allows people to work together in a way that they otherwise wouldn't, where they're not kind of a new source of insights in the conversation. Okay, when in this this last point that we're going to touch on before I let you go today, you mentioned that 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, more than a dozen years, and so one of the things I wanted to do just to be able to encourage us all to stay true and to stick with you 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're outside our company, is to put together the stories of companies that have gone through this process and see what difference that makes. So we just wrote a book called Personas With Punch, which is a story of half dozen companies that have really made a difference with personas. It's not about the tactics of how to create personas, it's really about the story of impact that personas can make and I wanted it to end with a story. We started with a story about a small company. This is about a really big company. I'm not going to identify them, but they were were in the hospital equipment of brand and 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 are called class ratings, which are, in the healthcare arena, the way that companies get ranked, and they needed to...

...break out very quickly. So we did research on how people buy Ivy pump systems and who are the personas that are involved. So in this case we actually had to go to five different functions within the company, and this story is in the book, and understand what are the benefit chains for each of those individuals and those functions as they consider this thing called an Ivy pump system. You know, from from the nurse to 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, map their 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 that story is tell you this one, which is in the process of doing those interviews and by not using a questionnaire, by not assuming that we knew all the things that we needed to know, we actively listened and heard a tiny competitor be mentioned multiple times as just a factor in the business. So what we did was recommend to the company that we do some additional research on the people who were the the customers of that company to find out what made them set which a valued partner. And by going back and doing this wind loss for search, we identified that, beyond the product, it was the process and the people that were just so critical to the onboarding process. So it went beyond our original set of questions and as a result I'm thankful and exultant to say that the company ended up restaffing their implementation teams, reorganizing how they on boarded and went from giving away the...

...on boarding service to actually charging for it, which is pretty remarkable. And the reason I tell you all that is that at the end of that process they went from worst to first in class readings. So the story that I just told, and it's one of the six and in the book, is about a company that applied the power of personas not just in the marketing realm, but actually in the entire customer success and 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 know to be true in the marketing world and to focus on our personas and the people 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 betwop Partnerscom, get started at BOP partners, I'd be glad to send them whatever it 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 pe partners and consistency has its advantages. So, yeah, happy to encourage anyone and answer questions. Just want to help see marketing take the leadership role that it's ought that it ought to. I'll to send with this. One of the beautiful things about what we do is that I think we're really in the business, 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 means to break bread together, and I think...

...that's what we need to be doing anymore of. I love it we're making a butt a big emphasis on that in our business, trying to create create real community, kind of facetoface community with some dinners that we're planning with guests and and and listeners in different parts of the country this year, because I believe the same thing that when we when we think about relationships with our customers in that way, I think I just think everybody, everybody, wins when we really want to have that level of of depth in a relationship with the people that we serve. I think it just is as ends up being an all around when so I appreciate your time today way and this has been fantastic. So I really appreciate it. Me Awesome. Thank you. Glad to hear what you're doing and I support that as well. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the BEDB growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it'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. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, 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 in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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