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Want to convert that B2B sale? You’d better be aware of these 4 buyer personalities

By Scott Gillum | Carbon Design

March 22, 2021 | 6 min read

B2B marketers are great at targeting customers, but often not so great at understanding the personal motivations behind each buyer. Carbon Design chief executive Scott Gillum explains what you need know about the four key B2B buying personalities.

brain and heart

We all have different personalities but for some reason when it comes to business marketing, we forget that point. We often treat a person as a specific role, say a chief executive officer, the same as any of their peers. A CEO is just a CEO, they all have the same needs, goals and interests.

It’s one of the reasons why our campaign performance suffers. Despite our best efforts, benchmark performance for all key metrics hasn’t moved in the last 20 years or more. If we look at our best performing campaigns that achieve double digits response, or click thru rates, our failure rate is still in the 80-90% range.

After a year of using AI-enabled personality profiling tools, we’ve now seen a common trend among customers, responders and quality leads, according to a recent study conducted by Carbon Design. The commonality: 70-75% of audiences are influence-able through the use of marketing activities, the rest are not, at least using marketing only.

In search of ‘sharers’ and ‘success-oriented’ personalities

Personality type reveals a buyers’ motivations and behavior. The good news is that there are two personality types consistently show up in our research that are active information seekers and they typically make up 65-70% of the audience. It skews higher in North America, and lower in Asian countries.

The first segment, the ’Sharer,’ actively seeks information to share with others. Sharers use a broad set of sources and, in particular, likes to leverage their network. They also like high level, big picture content that’s easy to share — think of short, animated videos and infographics. This segment brings new thinking and solutions into the organization and they can sell it to others.

The second segment, the ’Success-oriented’ person is looking for information that can help them, their team, or company improve performance. This person is a driver and if you can connect with them they will become an advocate for your brand or solution.

B2B marketing awoke to the need to infuse emotions into its messaging years ago and now we know that this personal connection resonates with this particular audience segment.

These are your marketing targets. They may or may not be decision makers or have a ’C-Level’ title, but one thing is certain, they are critical audiences for marketing messaging and performance.

Avoiding ‘Steady Eddies’ and battling the ‘challengers’

Now, let’s turn our attention to the two groups who are not targets. First up, are the ’safety-oriented’ individuals. These are your ’steady Eddies,’ and like nothing more than to stay within the status quo. They will take your content and use it to reinforce their current position. Marketing alone cannot dislodge them. That’s why you need to rely on an influencer, and/or others within the buying group to move them.

Last, but not least, are the ’challenge’ folks. They are motivated to deny or debate anything that is counter to their existing point of view. Happily labeled as skeptics, they engage late in the buying process and are often the last hurdle to overcome for a final decision. The upside is that once won over, they can become advocates but to win them you need a salesperson or an internal influencer.

Here’s the point, any one of these four personalities can be the CEO you’re targeting. But yet, we use one approach to develop content, and/or one way to engage them. Yes, they may have similar needs in the role, but they search and use information differently – and that is determined by their personality.

Until now marketing hasn’t had the ability to effectively read audiences. With sophisticated AI tools we can now customize content and approaches to attract certain types of prospects – the ones key to starting and advancing new opportunities. We can also improve lead nurturing activities by better understanding motivations, interest and connection with others within the buying group.

Finally, we have the opportunity to make a significant improvement in performance and satisfy audiences’ needs at the same time. Capturing this opportunity will require getting to know buyers, as not just a title or a role, but as a person. Because at the end of the process, a person is making a decision and that decision is personal.

Scott Gillum is founder and chief executive at Carbon Design

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