Is your business gathering data to build a persona model of its ideal clients based on demographic data? There is an increasing trend towards businesses creating persona model client categories based on insights into the known income and spending patterns of people along with their job positions, ages, education, home suburb and other public information. These firms often say that they are adopting a behavioral approach to their sales and marketing activities. Although, in reality, they are only capturing surface behavioral information.
Building a persona model of the client is still a very rational “left-brain” approach to sales and marketing. What is missing is knowing what the client really needs and how they wish to be related to at an emotional level. We advocate that businesses should incorporate a “right brain” approach to know how to communicate with clients?based on their personality style. Let us address this key point to show you the future of marketing and sales in the New Behavioral Economy.
Knowing the persona of the client may at best tell you “what” they want. The persona models assume that everyone in each category is the same based on their demographics. For instance, retail companies gather this data to know what type of clothes or vacations certain people (ie persona’s) want. Certainly, this approach has merits for a basic and perhaps even necessary level of client segmentation. There is no point selling a product or service to a person who is not even capable of paying for it. For instance, retail companies gather this data to know what type of clothes or vacations certain people (ie persona’s) want. An insurance or bank may gather this information to offer certain types of insurance or investment products to their prospects and clients. However, is this persona model approach achieving the optimal result of providing each client with customized life-long experiences?
Gallup Organization research in 2009 shows that those firms who are able to emotionally engage their clients will increase revenues by 23% a year over those who do not. A personal model approach will help client segmentation but will not boost emotional engagement. Emotional engagement can only be boosted by the business adopting strategies which help the employees demonstrate that they understand the core of who their clients are. This is why we recommend a personality based approach which involves the client completing a short online questionnaire that has been independently validated. Such an approach will help the firm and its employees serve each client on their unique terms. Further, if the right technology platforms are used the data will be scalable across the whole business on a continuous basis.
Therefore, we recommend:
The New Behavioral Economy Formula of: Persona Model (What to sell) + Personality (How to relate and sell).
Introducing personality discovery to the sales process in a scalable way will have a significant impact on sales. Even if your firm only increased its sales by 1% in year 1, the bottom line return will be huge. But, there is no reason why you cannot increase sales by 10% or more a year.
A personality based approach to marketing and sales assumes that each client is wired differently. Meaning that regardless of their assets, income, living conditions, education or age they will have a pre-disposition to make certain types of choices, have certain purchasing biases, and communication needs. Put another way, 2 people within the same persona model will have different emotional triggers and communication styles based on how they are wired. They will want to be related to differently. Typically, there are 4 broad quadrants where 92% of people have a dominant personality style. Although, given each person is unique they will have secondary factors, and more specific sub-factors.
Lets take a simple example of an insurance life protection policy offered to 2 people in the same persona model. Some people will need to know how the policy being offered achieves their goals, others their lifestyle, others security for their family and others the details of how it impacts their retirement plan. At a broad level, the policy has the same objective however how each person needs to hear the offering to buy it is different.
The same example can be used in gaining insight into how an insurance firm will distribute a new insurance protection policy to its field force. The advisors and agents in the field who meet a minimum sales quota are not the same personality. So, to be successful in sales they need a customized approach for being related to by the home office (or their general agent) and being educated about the product. Then, a customized approach needs to be developed for how each advisor or agent builds relationships and sells the product to their different clients.
In summary, building a persona model of your firm’s prospects and clients is a positive first step in segmentation. However, given it is rational in nature, such an approach will not build sustainable client engagement. That can only come from understanding the personality of all your employees and clients.