What Interview Questions Should I Ask When Creating B2B Buyer Personas?

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Interviewing customers for persona creation is truly an art. It’s not usually something marketers excel at right away and it takes practice to know how to talk to people and how to get them to open up about their purchasing habits.

When creating personas for a B2B company, it’s important to focus on their role and the purchasing process at work rather than in their personal life. After all, selling a manufacturing product to Joe the suburban dad is very different than selling to Joe the Purchasing Manager.

Here are the top five things you want to find out about your persona and what to ask to find the information you’re looking for. 

Demographics

Note: These questions are important to know but they can get a little personal. Ask tastefully! If a subject isn’t willing to tell you their marital status, they almost certainly won’t tell you their age. Worst comes to worst, estimate and move on.

  • What is your age?
  • What is your marital status?
  • What is your household income?
  • Where do you live?
  • Do you have children?
  • What is your level of education?
  • If they have a college degree, where and what did you study?

Role at work

  • What is your job title?
  • Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
  • What is your role in the purchasing process?
  • What does your day typically look like?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What was your career track from school to where you are now?
  • What does it mean to be successful in your role?

Company background

  • Which industry do you work in?
  • How big is your company? (Size and revenue)
  • How much do you expect your company to spend this year on [your product or service]?

How they learn 

  • Do you use search engines to help you at work? What terms do you search for?
  • Where do you go for information about your industry and/or product?
  • Where do you go to learn more about your job specifically?
  • How do you learn best on the job?
  • What publications or blogs do you read?

How they shop 

  • How do you evaluate different types of [your product or service]?
  • How do you use [your product or service] in your job?
  • What do you look for when purchasing [your product or service]?
  • How do you find vendors? How do you prefer to interact with them?
  • Describe a recent purchase you took part in.

In order to have a decent sample size, Customer Development Labs recommends starting with five customers. Then, analyze your results and determine if those customers gave you diverse answers that satisfactorily answered all your questions. At the end of the day, there is no “right” number of people to interview. 

Once you feel you’ve gained valuable insights into your customers’ behavior, learned what they’re like, what makes them want to purchase your product, and where they get their information, take those insights and incorporate them into your marketing.

If no one you interviewed reads trade publications it’s time to pull the plug on that print ad. If everyone you interviewed is on Facebook, it’s time to invest time into perfecting your social presence.

Nothing is more valuable than insight from your customers. Listen to what they have to say and use that information to your business’s advantage.

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