April 2

Lead Nurturing based on personality and behavior, not job title

Lead Nurturing


In my most recent research project, the MarketingSherpa 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel, we identified key behavioral and motivational differences between marketing specialists. Much of what we learned applies beyond HR and can improve your lead nurturing and sales efforts.

The key to navigating your way to a sales-ready lead is navigating through individual personalities. When you apply the human touch, you must establish credibility and, essentially, establish and manage relationships with many different people at many different levels in an organization.

You must, as Brian Carroll put it, ripen some bananas

“Fully 95% of your leads are like harvested green bananas, and, off the top, your sales team needs only the other 5%, those that are ripe…

“Lead nurturing is all about having consistent and meaningful dialog with viable prospects regardless of their timing to buy.  It’s about building trusted relationships with the right people.  In the end, it’s the act of maintaining mind share and building solid relationships with economic buyers.  It’s not a salesperson calling up every few months to find out if a prospect is ‘ready to buy yet.'”

– Brian Carroll, Executive Director, Revenue Optimization, MECLABS

Lead nurturing based on personality

Below are some characteristics you will want to identify in your prospects as early as possible. They will improve your understanding of the people you’re contacting, and set a path for helping them “sell up” or move to the next stage in the buying process.

The person you are talking to in a lead’s organization might be:

1. Your champion
2. Your influencer
3. Your decision maker

As you communicate with each of these three levels, try to identify which of these characteristics are prominent in the person:

1. How assertive and controlling is the person? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
2. How strong of a communicator? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
3. How process-oriented, methodical? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
4. How analytical/detail-oriented? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
5. How objective/task-oriented? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
6. How subjective/free-flowing? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
7. How individualistic? □ a little □ at times □ a lot
8. How strong is his/her corporate attachment? □ a little □ at times □ a lot

Once you have communicated with your first contact or two, ask them about the decision maker so you can prepare them for the process of helping to achieve your mutual objective – putting Sales in touch with a decision maker ready to make a purchase.

Here’s an example of how to make this system work for you:

Scenario #1 – Wants to be a champion, but not very assertive

Let’s say your champion is not very assertive or a good communicator. He is much more detail- and process-oriented as well as very objective about his approaches. That means he will not be very subjective and will have an average or low individualistic profile.

Even if his corporate attachment is strong, he is going to need your help motivating the influencer. On your call, help him understand that you are there to support his efforts and achieve his goals so he can obtain what you are offering.

Work with him until he is comfortable with all the technical benefits of your product. Then ask if you could get on the phone with him and the influencer. Remember: You are his team member. Use phrases like “we,” “our,” and “us” a lot!

Scenario #2 – Is an assertive influencer but not convinced yet

Now, if your influencer is the exact opposite, then he will be less than excellent with details but an excellent relationship person. When you talk to him, focus on how this will help the individuals within the organization and make the department more efficient and effective.

Provide “global” concepts and images since he is more subjective in his thought processes. This is where your role becomes critical, because to influence a decision maker (who is obviously assertive and controlling), you must provide this “people person” with a compelling sales proposition. You must formulate that concept in his mind so it is the first thing out of his mouth when he meets with the decision maker.

Now, since we know the decision maker is assertive, let’s say he is also somewhat analytical and highly objective, only considering the bottom line. Then you must prepare the proposal or PowerPoint for the influencer with a “bottom-line” focus.

You want to help the influencer see that you want to help make him “look good” by identifying the key points most decision-makers look for – “What’s it going to do for me today?” It can be as simple as an opening statement like, “How much effort does it take to add $100,000 to the company’s bottom line? ABC can do that with little to no long-term investment.”

However, you set your approach, using this form can help you identify the key traits of the people you’re contacting. Instead of marketing to job titles, you can market to people and their personalities.

Related Resources:

Lead Nurturing: 9 questions answered on lead qualification, nurturing, and Marketing-Sales alignment

Lead Nurturing: 12 questions answered on content, tactics and strategy

Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them

Marketing Management: What is your company doing to increase knowledge and effectiveness?

Marketing Career: 4 questions every marketer should answer (and what you need to know to start asking them)

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. @wayne cerullo
    Wayne you are “preaching the gospel of marketing.”

    Most marketers today are silo focused believing that their approach(s) are the ones that will make the biggest difference. There seems to be a bias/bent in this area. Fortunately with the speed of communication and spread of information (like what you have just shared) people are looking past the traditional approaches.

    Marketers must wear many hats as I discussed in the 2012 Marketing Personnel Benchmark Survey. However, it is not just about design, copy, etc., it is about their market and the people that make up that market. You’re right it is NOT about demographics, it is about psycho-graphics.

    Great comments. Thanks.


  2. @Hannah Hamilton
    Hannah, you are right. Thanks for the note.

    One thing I will say, however, is that the job title can provide some insights into personality. For example in the 2012 Marketing Personnel Benchmark Survey we identified a massive difference in personalities between the nine different marketing roles – especially the executives.

    I would love to hear your thoughts if you have time to read that.

    Thanks again for your comments.


  3. @John (Vikas Sharma)
    John, you have struck a nerve here with identifying the mentality – and you are right traditional B2B is now lagging. Understanding a person’s mentality can be quickly identified by where they work, what they are marketing, their position as well as their “language.”

    One other quick comment on feelings and emotions. While we must be very objective in our approaches, remember that three out of four sales are consummated based on emotions. People buy things based on “emotional needs” or what they perceive to need. Each emotion is tied to a behavioral style that can be reached by a differing approach. For example the task oriented extrovert has an internal time clock clicking at all times. Therefore the use of urgency plays little role in their emotional response – they already are in a hurry. So one would focus on how to make them more efficient/effective would move the emotions to a quicker response.

    Thanks for your comments.

  4. @Bruce Brien
    Bruce, fantastic insight. You have taken this process another step deeper in looking at the individual to understand the value add that we must provide our prospects/customers. You are asking questions rather than “selling someone something” and hoping they buy. Bravo.

    In addition to the topics they download, you may also want to pay attention to the verbiage they use in their communications. Those who use action/goal oriented words are going to make quick decisions so you must strike quickly with focus. However those who communicate in more subjective language are going to be more contemplative in their approach and will need more info to move into the sales process.

    I commend you on your approach. If you ever get to them in person (which is hard to do these days) let me tell you how to use NLP and “read” the iris in their eyes! It’s true – it all works. You just have to be willing to look and listen!


  5. Hi Chuck. Thanks for giving us those scenarios and what we can do for each. Marketing based on behavior and personality is more effective and compelling than based on people’s job titles.

  6. I agree with Wayne Cerullo. At the present time, traditional B2B is not in trend. If you want to do business firstly understand your target. What he actually looking for, what are his criteria of evaluating products’ quality and what kind of mentality he has and then provide him information accordingly. It will help in winning his trust easily.
    Now we can say that do business with feelings and emotions don’t be too practical.

  7. Traditional b2b is so dead. Hit the CIO. Hit the CFO. White papers for the decision-makers!

    We’re seeing the rise of the “b2p” movement — business to PERSON, as Chuck notes. Nailing the ROLE of the individual is an important start. So is their personality — how they find and consume info, how they evaluate vendors, what they look for.

    We find there actually are four spheres of the “prospect persona” to identify — starting with their personality, then decision role, plus the context (how does the company view vendors and make decisions), and their view of the options (do they know you? do they love someone else?)

    I think we will begin to find b2b marketing becoming more human and relevant and less scalable, seamless, robust, and inter-operable! (;-)

  8. Chuck,

    Well thought out premise regarding marketing to the personality. A recent twist that we are seeing on this is reading the tea leaves in the digital signature left by the prospect to help determine the personality type before even meeting them. If website content is properly gated and staged, which content is downloaded and which pages are viewed can tell us a lot about what the prospect is thinking. If you download “Ten things you need to do to save your job!” Vs “Ten things you need to do to get promoted!” we can assess that you are coming from different points of view. If your focus is on specifications and ROI, are you ready to buy or are you just technical? Using activity to drive additional profiling can be a little tricky, but if marketers set their minds to it, they can provide sales with some real insight when the lead is turned over.

    Anyway, I really like the train of thought you have going here and appreciated the effort.

    Bruce Brien, Bulldog Solutions

  9. Jay:

    Thanks for your comments, they are right on track. It’s too bad that others don’t see the simplicity involved in identifying key factors like you have mentioned.

    One other thing you may want to consider is how does each of those types “warm up” to added value sales. You have a whole new opportunity when you identify the next step for each of those types. You can add tremendous value to the relationship and increase the depth in which you penetrate an organization’s culture if you take that next step.

    I commend you on your wisdom for approaching your audience this way.


  10. Thanks, Chuck. Good advice.
    We find that identifying and marketing directly to personality types enables us target and say precisely what each type needs to hear. Because each type buys from different information and “feelings.”
    People seek people like themselves to trust, like, work with and to buy from and often that is a person with the same personality type.
    From the outset our focus is to spot their personality type and own the “path to purchase” based on a relationship built on trust and comfort. Whenever they are ready to decide to buy we are there for them.
    In addition, the types we work with buy in a predictable order. This is good to know since one type is a “fence sitter” and needs more time, yet when them do decide they are often the most loyal customer we can hope for.
    Anyway, we think personalty marketing is a great the way to go.

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