Several years ago, I created research for Gartner clients on the idea of building an Enterprise Persona–a detailed profile of the ideal customer. This recognized work that Bob Apollo has shared publicly, making the case that working to understand if a prospect organization is ideal, acceptable, or a bad fit would drive better results. For organizations that truly do this, it has shown to be successful. But even after all these years, many either don’t get it or aren’t willing or able to put in the work to build this Enterprise Persona.
The don’t get it crowd typically confuses enterprise personas with buyer personas. I get inquiry requests to help clients build “Enterprise Personas for CIOs, CISOs, and other roles.” That happens repeatedly. We built a graphic to try to help, but it still happens.
Frankly, I am 100% convinced that vendors spend a fraction of the time they put into buyer personas on building an enterprise persona they’d get an incredible payback. The key thing to remind everyone of is that virtually all enterprise technology purchases are made by a committee. Consensus rules the day vs. individual appeals.
A great Enterprise Persona is not the same as segmentation. The persona should capture common segmentation elements like firmographics (size, industry, location), but it needs more. It should include characteristics of their business situation (are your better for fast growing businesses or steady businesses managing costs closely?), their existing technology landscape (technographics), their Enterprise Technology Adoption profile (or other psychographics), the likely approach to buying team composition, and more. Basically all the characteristics that make a particular company the best fit for you–given your products and the way you like to do business.
You can take it further by using the same categories to identify the deviations from ideal–those that are acceptable and those that are huge red flags.
A great Enterprise Persona provides context for everything:
- Product Strategy
- Contract Terms
- Marketing Plans
- Customer Success Approaches
An enterprise persona takes the nebulous idea of a customer and creates connective tissue across all elements of your business. Everyone in your company should know your it–and understand how it evolves as you learn more (it should never be static).
By using this to guide efforts, more and more people can recognize fit or acceptable deviations, and adjust their approach to that situation.
I’m not saying that buyer personas (when done right–I’ll leave that discussion to colleagues) aren’t valuable. But I will say they aren’t nearly as valuable as an Enterprise Persona AND they become more valuable when combined.
The Enterprise Persona.
Context for Everything.
Possibly the best time investment that your organization could make (and I say organization because it should bring together views from across the org to establish those connections and refine them over time).