How do you get sales people to engage with new Persona content?

Robin Griffiths

As one senior marketing exec said to me recently, “The problem is sales people aren’t using the persona content we’ve developed”.

You’ve done the hard part (or so you thought) and developed some really insightful new content based around personas – their challenges, how your company solves these and delivers value etc. You’ve packaged this knowledge in a beautiful new set of tools (including sexy interactive, online stuff), done a great job of marketing them internally, but sales people just aren’t using them.

What do you do?

The selling ‘Comfort Zone’

Most of us in sales have a comfort zone. If we’re selling technology or software we’re comfortable selling to the CIO or Head of IT and that’s where our relationships are.

One of the most valuable things a ‘persona program’ can deliver are insights into buyers that sales people may not be familiar with – their role, responsibilities, what keeps them awake at night. Also sales people want to be confident they can position their company and products in a relevant way to unfamiliar decision makers, deploy value propositions that resonate and emphasize the right points of differentiation.

But getting sales people to step outside their comfort zone isn’t easy. ‘Throwing some new sales tools over the wall’ isn’t going to get the job done. You have to take people by the hand and lead them.

Get people into a room

Well it might be heresy in this online, eLearning world, but there’s only one sure-fire way to get sales people to engage with new content and venture outside their comfort zone, and that’s to get them together, hands-on and using the new tools you’ve built.

That’s right you heard it here first, I’m talking about a sales intervention where we have sales people in a physical room together (not online)! We get them to work on some of the real deals they have in their pipeline, using the new persona content to:

  • Craft ‘foot in the door’ opening emails and calls
  • Prepare for exploratory meetings
  • Write follow-up emails outlining the customer’s business problem and a potential solution
  • Develop presentations for specific buyer roles/personas

Do some role-plays!

And of course there’s nothing better to focus attention than a few role-plays! I’ve had sales people role-playing initial phone calls, chance meetings a conferences, exploratory meetings, deeper dive meetings with specific personas and final presentations to a decision team.

Add in a couple of prizes for the best role-plays and you get sales people fired up and focused – we’re sales people, we can’t help competing to win!

But how does this scale?

Sometimes I get the objection from senior executives that old style classroom training doesn’t scale – it’s just too expensive to fly experienced facilitators around the world to run every session face to face.

Packaged multimedia based classroom training

But there are now multimedia solutions to this. Persona based training interventions can be deployed in the form of interactive multimedia packages, with a virtual host who facilitates the session via a series of audio-visual links, in conjunction with a local sales manager. These packages ship with all the sales tools along with video pieces from senior execs, games and other tools to get people interacting plus guidance on how to run the session and engage attendees.

Robin Griffiths

Specialist in proposition development and creator of the Proposition Mapping™ methodology. Robin's career includes Founder and CEO of Force12 Software, and Director of Cambridge Consulting Engineers.