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B2B companies that use personas are twice as likely to exceed lead and revenue goals as those that don't.

Marketers are responsible for getting to know their customers. Creating personas is an effective way to translate that knowledge into a tangible state—one that can help employees across an organization to understand customers' key traits and motivations.

According to Cintell's “2016 Benchmark Study on Understanding B2B Buyers,” personas are not only effective, they're also lucrative. Of the nearly 140 B2B companies studied, organizations that exceed their lead and revenue goals are 2.2 times more likely to have formally documented personas than companies that miss those targets. 

Additionally, companies that exceeded their lead and revenue goals are 7.4 times as likely to have updated their personas in the prior six months as the companies that missed those targets; 93.8% of these top performers segment their database by persona. These high-performing companies are 2.3 times more likely to research buyers' drivers and motivations and 3.8 more likely to have an internal person accountable for personas than other companies in the study.

High-performing companies are more likely to use personas for demand generation, as well.  Companies that exceeded their lead and revenue targets are 2.4 times as likely to use personas for demand gen as those companies that missed lead and revenue goals. High performers surveyed cite messaging as their most common use for personas, at 58.8%; sales training rounds out their top three use cases (tied with demand gen at 52.9%).

Certainly, using personas has myriad benefits. But there are challenges, too. The top three are getting the whole organization to value personas, validating persona insights with quantitative measures, and training teams on how to use personas in their day-to-day work. Indeed, one main roadblock to persona adoption is accessibility; only 21.2% of those polled store personas in a shareable format other than a PDF or on a printout. Another issue is data. The key to successfully creating personas, the report suggests, is having a variety of data to draw from. Organizations that exceed their goals are heavy users of customer and non-customer qualitative interviews (82.4%), as well as executive team interviews (70.6%). Other data sources include CRM data, interviews with salespeople, surveys, competitive websites, and external studies.

The data that top performing companies are most likely to include to create their personas are buyers' drivers and motivators (93.8%), role in the buying process and fears and challenges (tied at 87.5%), and buying preferences (81.3%). Other data that companies polled use to create personas include organizational goals and priorities, demographic information, KPIs and success metrics, and personality traits.

Ultimately, having personas enables companies to use customer insight to meet performance goals. After all, companies surveyed that meet or exceed their revenue targets are 2.4 times more likely to be effective or very effective at using personas than the companies polled that miss their lead and revenue goals.

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