Buying Personas: Are they responsible for poor sales results?

I’m reposting these stats again as they make for sobering reading.

  • 58% of sales opportunities end in “no decision” – Sales Benchmark Index
  • Only 54% of sales people made quota in 2015 – CSO Insghts
  • Only 46.3% of forecasted deals closed in 2015 – Rob Jeppsen
  • 22% increase in average sales cycle in last 5 years – Dave Borrelli, Salesforce

Could buying personas be partially responsible for declining sales performance?

My point of view is that the fashion of building out buying personas has had unintended consequences on sales results.

  1. The focus on identifying the ‘ideal’ buyer – by their psychographics and demographics has caused sales and marketers to forget that 95% of buyers are in status quo. The ideal buyer + a trigger event or circumstance can cause the buyer to become active and become part of the 5% for a period of time. Sellers and marketers would be wise to combine buying personas + triggers in their outreaches and campaigns to maximize results. I believe Tim Riesterer of Corporate Visions has a similar point of view.
  2. Many of the buying personas that I’ve seen are of mid ranking and functional executives – who are deeply vested in the status quo – “can’t say yes, but can say no.” Sales and marketing spend time trying to convince these ‘buyers’ who are tasked with operationalizing what’s in place for the case for change – with poor returns for their efforts.

In order to loosen the grip of the status quo, sales people need to prospect into people who are motivated to change – because that is what selling is – it’s changing from one state to another.

Who is motivated to make change?

The executives of the company. The C suite’s role is to look for new ways of doing things that will give them a competitive edge.

This is where top sales performers start their engagements. The top down approach.

Most sales leaders and sales people have never been taught how to write and message a C suite buying persona – so they revert to trying convince…you guessed it…the mid ranking ideal buying persona. And so it continues.

If you want to dramatically accelerate your sales cycles and improve win rates then work on your messaging mindset and skills to engage the C suite at your must win accounts.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

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Matt Conway

CEO & Principle at Matthew Conway
If you're a CEO or Sales Leader reading this and you want to fill your pipeline with quality opportunities, win more deals and reduce sales cycles by as much as 6x, then perhaps it's time for a chat?

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Matt Conway
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