In my previous articles, I’ve covered How to Accurately Build Buyer Personas for SaaS and Buyer Persona Segmentation, but now it’s time to hone in on a more advanced Buyer Persona Strategy.

You’ve got your buyer persona foundation place, but what if you need to truly distinguish your product from the rest of your competitors? Many personas deal with the superficial aspects of customer pain points or basic product benefits. To successfully bring in qualified leads and shorten the sales cycle, you need to dive deeper into more psychographics.

The Buyer Persona Institute recommends sub-heads within a persona which will improve your segmentation and as a result personalization.

In this article, we are going to cover the five areas that you need to cover to create a more advanced buyer persona, or ICP strategy, in order to increase your conversion rate. We will also cover some tactics that help you find persona gaps to better understand where you can improve your inbound efforts.

Buyer Persona Sub-Heads

For each persona, you need to create “sub-heads”. Think of sub-heads as motivational factors or considerations that your prospective client analyzes with respect to your product or service

  • Priority Initiatives 

Understanding the problem you solve for the customer doesn’t tell the entire story. A persona needs to also include the circumstances – i.e. the time and money a buyer is willing to invest in your solution. How much value does your product give them? Go beyond product features and pricing and consider if for instance access to your team is critical.

  • Success Factors  

This refers to buyer expectations. Success factors are a list of the changes or improvements a buyer expects to see in their business after purchasing your product. This goes beyond your product benefits and taps into the notion that people want to evolve their skillset and become knowledgeable in a way that makes them better at their job. After they subscribe to your product will they be an expert at something new that positively impacts their career?

  • Perceived Barriers  

These are potential challenges or pitfalls that literally scare buyers. A barrier is often associated with a bad experience with another company or the costs involved. Understanding these perceived barriers is worth the time and extra work because removing them can begin a relationship that ultimately turns into a brand advocate.


Set up (or join) a forum, social media, or focus group to gain better insights into perceived barriers.

  • Buyer’s Journey 

We talk about this a bit because it is important. We all know that prospective clients have a nuanced buyer journey, but most go through at least the four stages below:

  1. Identify issues or problems
  2. Research prospective solutions
  3. Demo products & negotiate
  4. Purchase product

What is missing often in personas are those who influence your prospective client at each stage of their journey. In essence, it is important to identify the real decision-makers and their needs. 

  • Decision Criteria  

The previous 3 sub-heads should lead you to your Decision Criteria. Here is where you identify the exact product or service features that will create a successful outcome for your potential client.

Each persona should have a unique set of decision criteria. If you have the same criteria for multiple personas, you need to go back and dig a little deeper. 

Gaps In Your Buyer Personas

It is important to evolve and improve your buyer personas as your company grows. Identifying gaps is critical to ensuring that you are bringing in qualified leads as well as creating sustainable NRR.

Gaps in your persona can be identified in sales, marketing, and product teams. Below are some tips to help you better analyze and identify holes in your personas.

1. Sales Gaps

Believe it or not,  In a recent Buyer Persona Institute review across thousands of buyer interviews, 81% of buyers said it was the sales experience that eliminated a product or service from consideration. Ouch.

This means it is critical to provide better sales training and provide your sales teams with the tools to better understand their buyers’ needs. 

By analyzing the gaps in your sales team’s knowledge and your potential customers’ needs you can better position sales as true experts which will help build trust with the buyer.

Pro Tips for setting up your advanced buyer persona strategy:

  1. Look for buying triggers – i.e. why customers are seeking a solution. Is it a merger? Is it a new hire? These are critical for sales to understand more than demographic data
  2. Ensure the sales team understands the success factors of the buyer’s journey. No one wants to be talked at, they want to be heard. Train your sales team to be active listeners.
  3. Response & Follow-Up is key. This may sound like a “duh” tip, but sales teams need to clearly articulate answers to buyers and their influencers’ questions and concerns. Not much more to add. It’s that simple.

2. Marketing Gaps

A lot falls on marketing, because of the need to collaborate, act quickly, and prioritize. Speaking of priorities, optimizing buyer engagement early in the buyer’s journey is the biggest gap that faces marketing teams.

Why? Buyers are most receptive at this stage of their journey. They want to hear from you because they need a solution.

This means the marketing and sales teams need to be in sync with each other on feedback, workflows, and all communication to truly understand the perceived barriers prospective buyers face.

Pro Tips: 

  1. Buyers already know your benefits. What they don’t know is why you have a better product than your competitors to deliver those benefits. Focus on Decision Criteria to truly convey the “why”.
  2. Drown out the noise. Marketing teams get overloaded with feedback at times which can result in inconsistency internally. It is beyond important that organizations trust their marketing teams. After all, they’ve asked for sales feedback and collaboration – so now let marketing go to work!

3. Product Gaps

Product teams get a lot of feedback from existing customers, but that can be misleading. In fact, it can be a costly mistake. Even if a buyer and customer are the same personas you cannot assume that product strategy is going to impress new buyers. 

Product teams need to distinguish between two criteria:

Buying Criteria

These are the attributes of your product, service, or solution that buyers consider throughout their buying journey. Think of it as how they compare your product to your competitors. 

Using criteria 

These are the attributes that directly impact your existing customer’s experience after purchase.

Product teams with insights from marketing should focus on enhancements. A great way to understand that is direct quotes from potential customers as well as understanding success factors and the decision criteria

So how do you really create an Advanced Buyer Persona Strategy?

Taking a collaborative approach and understanding that these personas will evolve alongside your product ensures that you are building a sustainable strategy within the DNA of your business with one ideal result – increased revenue.

Building comprehensive buyer personas can seem like a daunting task, but by taking a methodical approach your business is committing to a playbook that integrates your product, marketing, and sales teams and is truly built on the foundation of your customer’s reality.