How to conduct interviews to research your B2B buyer personas

Tips for insightful buyer personas plus 33 sample questions to ask.

Who is your ideal prospect? How much do you really know about them?

If your marketing is trying to target everyone at once, you’re wasting money. But with a clearly defined target audience, you can increase the quantity and quality of your leads. So how do you define your core audience and market to them more effectively? That’s where a buyer persona can help. Buyer personas are generalized representations of your ideal customer types.

When you’re writing this detailed description of your most valuable prospects, don’t just guess. Use research to uncover details and insights that will help you sell. In this post, we’ll cover how to use interviews to research your buyer personas.

Who to interview when researching B2B buyer personas

One of the most critical steps to establishing your buyer persona(s) is finding some people to speak with to suss out, well, who your buyer persona is. That means you’ll have to conduct some interviews to get to know what drives your target audience. But how do you find those interviewees?

In order to develop meaningful representations of your ideal customers, you should talk to a range of people to gather a robust amount of feedback. Here are three groups you should consider tapping into.

Current and past customers

If you want to know about your customers, talk to them. Obvious, right?  The key is to talk to as wide a range of customers as possible, not just your favorites. Of course, you do want insights from your biggest or most valuable clients, but your goal isn’t to hear glowing reviews. So, be sure to talk to smaller and even “difficult” customers. You’re likely to learn more by patiently listening to a client who isn’t delighted with your company. Also, be sure to reach out to past customers. They have a unique perspective on your business, especially if they’re currently working with one of your competitors. Everyone likes being heard and feeling valued, so these interviews will have the added benefit of strengthening your relationships.

Potential Prospects

Your current leads are an excellent resource, since you should already have all their contact information. Including interviews with people who have not purchased from you or who may not be familiar with your company is invaluable since that is who your marketing is designed to influence.

Other referrals

Ask each person you interview if they know someone else that you should speak to. Also, reach out to your network of industry peers and social media connections. Briefly explain what you are doing and ask if anyone comes to mind. People are usually willing to help when directly asked, if the ask is specific and doesn’t take much time.

Tips on recruiting people to interview for your B2B buyer personas

Here are a few pointers for getting a better response rate as you reach out to people.

Use an incentive. Offer people a little extra reason to participate in an interview. A discount on their next invoice, a free sample product, or a gift card to a local merchant are ideas that don’t require too much effort or cost. Consider it a thank you for their help.

Be clear upfront that this isn’t a sales call. Plainly state that you’re doing research. Let them know that your goal is to make your company better at serving your clients—not trying to sell them anything. This is especially important when dealing with people who are not your customers; tell them how you got their contact info and a reason why you want their input in particular.

Make it easy to say yes. Tell them how long the interview should take. Stress how valuable their opinions are. Offer to schedule a date in the future that works for them. Then send a calendar invitation and a reminder to reserve their time.

33 sample questions for B2B buyer persona interviews

Don’t skip the small talk and a proper thank you for their help. And start with simple questions. You want to make each person feels comfortable, so they open up and share honestly with you. Also, be sure to ask their permission to record your conversation.

This list of sample questions are just suggestions, so edit and add as you see fit. Your goal is to get them talking about themselves and their challenges, so don’t feel like you have to rush through to ask every question.

  1. What type of company do you work for?
  2. Which industries does your company serve?
  3. What is the size of your company? Revenue? Number of employees?
  4. What is your job title?
  5. What are the primary responsibilities of your role?
  6. What does a typical day look like for you?
  7. What skills are required to do your job?
  8. What tools do you rely on in your job?
  9. Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
  10. How is success measured on your team?
  11. What are the goals of your team and company?
  12. What are your biggest challenges at work?
  13. What are your biggest concerns or worries? What keeps you up at night?
  14. How do you stay current on industry trends?
  15. What publications or websites do you read for work?
  16. What professional associations do you participate in?
  17. What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?
  18. Which social networks are you active on?
  19. What do you enjoy reading in your personal time?
  20. Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural environment?
  21. Who else lives at home? Married? Kids?
  22. What kind of car do you drive?
  23. What is your age? To be polite, you can ask a range, i.e. Are you in your 30s, 40s, 50s, etc.?
  24. Describe your educational background. What schools did you attend? What did you study and which degrees did you earn?
  25. Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
  26. What are you future career goals?
  27. Think of the last purchase your company made in my industry, how many people were involved in the decision?
  28. What concerns came up as you were researching that purchase?
  29. What is the evaluation process when your company needs to make a purchase?
  30. How did you get information to help you decide? What sites did you visit? Who did you talk to?
  31. How do you prefer to contact your partners and vendors? Phone, email, phone, in person, or a mix?
  32. What could have made the process of making that purchase easier?
  33. Is there anything I should ask you that I didn’t cover?

Bonus: the most important question to ask in any B2B buyer persona interview.

Why?

That’s it. It is crucial to ask this simple follow up question. Dig deeper. Ask why?

Remember that you’re trying to understand their motivations and their concerns. What drives them and how do they feel? So, be empathic, truly listen, and ask them to reflect and elaborate on their answers.

Blender is a full-service B2B marketing agency focused on accelerating growth for clients in manufacturing, healthcare, software and professional services. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.

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