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Selling Salt to a Slug is a Bad Strategy - Enter Buyer Personas

Michael Thebeau
March 31, 2019

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If you're in sales, you've likely had a slow period before. A tough month, a brutal quarter, or just an absolutely abysmal year. When I reflect back on my own personal career in sales, I've hit multiple slow times, where I feel like I'm grinding, I'm hitting the phones, I'm prospecting harder than ever, and still not seeing the results I need. Now you feel trapped, right? A bad week turns to two, quickly that bad month hits you and before you know it the end of the quarter is here and you're nowhere close to quota. You sit down with your sales manager, go through the data and it appears you're doing all the right things - you're making all the calls, and sending great emails. Sales is just a numbers game, so keep your head high, hit those phones and let's pray the next quarter is better.



It's time to realize sales isn't just about output, and while effort is extremely important, it's time we start focusing on the strategy that goes into sales. Selling is becoming increasingly more difficult thanks to this great tool we use on a daily basis, a little tool which I call the internet. Over the course of the last 15+ years there has been a shift in consumer power as the consumer has the ability to research companies, products, and services quickly thanks to the help of the internet. So how do we combat this?

Now you're sitting here reading this thinking you're a great salesperson. You think you can sell salt to a slug right? Well that's great, and you need to keep that confidence - but recognize that after your first cold call, or that first great email, the slug is going to look up salt and figure out it's not right for them. You continue to call and email and now you either get led on for the next six months, or if you're lucky, they tell you upfront to kick rocks. Now you've wasted your time going after the wrong buyer for your product or service which is the exact reason why something has to change.

OK, so I think you get the point, but to hammer it home one more MUST ensure your sales strategy is specifically targeting your ideal customer.

So how do you do this?

Well, it's simple, take a few minutes and build out buyer personas. Here's a link to a free buyer persona worksheet that will guide you through the entire process.

Buyer Persona Worksheet

Now, a little advice while building these buyer personas out:

Be detailed

Include as much information as you possibly can. Think of common goals for your customers that you hear on your calls. Think about the common challenges that your customers run into to reach those goals. How does your product or service help that customer to reach those goals and concur those challenges? Build that script.

Be specific

You've heard the old mantra "anything worth doing, is worth doing well". So don't hold back now, let's get down to the nitty gritty and be as specific as possible. What type of demographic does this persona typically fit into? What type of education do they have? What would motivate them to take your call, or buy your product/service? By being vague, you're just wasting your time, so take the extra five minutes and lets get as specific as possible.

Build as many as you need to

If you're selling to medium or enterprise level companies, there's a good chance you may have multiple personas for each company. Maybe you have them for a director level and also for a C-level executive. You may have have them for different job functions, such as operations or marketing. Depending on the size of the company, your personas may change as well. For example at a startup you might need to reach the CEO, but at a mid-size company you are targeting a director of marketing. 

Developing personas may seem tedious, and maybe even elementary, but if you've ever been in a rut like I have and not been able to nail down the exact reason you're not hitting quota, circle back to the basics and make sure you are selling to the right people. Change your prospecting and outreach to target the kind of buyers that will benefit from your outreach. Keep that confidence high, and remember that you're a great salesperson who could sell salt to a slug, but might want to find a better buyer!

Buyer Persona Worksheet