The bad news is there isn’t a simple answer, nor is there a magic formula for calculating the ‘right’ number. The good news is there are some steps you can take to get work out who your personas are and how important they are to your business. Don’t get hung up on finding a magic number – just find the persona types that are important and work from there.
Your sales team will know the types of people they talk to in their prospect meetings, and they’ll understand the type of customer who buys from your company. While your sales team might not talk in terms of ‘personas’ or 'buyer personas' they’ll have a lot of insight into the individuals. It won’t be just one ‘type’ that you sell to but many.
You should talk to your existing customer base to discover more about your personas. By asking the right questions you’ll understand their motivation for buying your product of service. Find out what motivated their purchase, but also what motivates them. How did they reach the decision to buy from you? How did they find out about you, did they research others etc.
Opinions don’t matter
It’s important point to remember: it’s not your opinion or your sales team’s opinion that matters here. Your personas should be based on fact. You need to go beyond the ‘job title’ to understand more about the person, what motivates them, what their interests are and how they evaluate information (and more!).
Once you’ve got your personas, you might think that you’re done. But, you should also think about whether you have any negative ones. Those are the people who fall outside your personas for one or more reasons. It could be that they’re not budget holders, they’re not in the decision-making circle, not an influencer etc. But, figure out who they are, so you can discount them from your marketing campaigns.
You might end up with one, two, three or more AND the same for negative personas! It’s just as relevant to have one as it is to have half a dozen.
We’ve created a template to help you with your research into personas. It’s available to download from this link. But, if you’re not ready for that yet, or you need some more info about creating personas, or getting your sales team to buy in to doing the work, you might like our guide to creating personas.