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What You Don’t Know About Your Prospects Can Kill You: a Case History

Commonly, when building a b2b campaign, companies identify the executives involved (or whom they would like to be involved) in the decision making process and build messaging from there, focusing on the challenges facing the vertical and versioning that to the responsibilities of each executive, e.g. the CFO gets the financial spin on how our product or service is best.

Uncommonly, a company takes the time to understand the prospects as people, and that can make all the difference in the world It’s really people who make the decisions, and people can have intertwining, contradictory, personal and professional needs and preferences. That same financial executive may evaluate your product or service on how it meets the overall challenge, and by what she’s heard from friends, and how this decision make affect her evaluation and career, and more.

Let me tell you a story where wading into this mess really paid off.

In 1987 David was a programmer working on mission-critical development. One day the computer burped and all the data was lost. The company was instantly out of business and David was instantly out of a job. But not out of ideas. He immediately began developing the best backup program around, and creating a business backing up everyone else’s data.

The company David started, Asigra, is one of the most dynamic companies you’ve never heard of, quietly developing data backup and recovery software whose value has been recently recognized by elite industry analysts. Asigra’s ambition is earned - they want to expand from SMB to the enterprise. A caveat – the enterprise marketplace is home to the well-entrenched 500lb gorillas of the industry.

To better understand these enterprise decision makers, Asigra engaged them in purposeful conversation, or an evolved form of prospect persona research designed to bring clarity to prospecting. The goals:

* Identify high-potential prospects, and low-potential prospects

* Understand their information behavior – how they learn, or don’t learn

* Assemble the information into human form, to drive messaging and focus sales and marketing

Here’s what the decision makers said:

* Data backup is not strategic to the corporation. It is viewed as a cost center and a royal pain in the butt – a low-level, time-intensive process. However, data recovery is strategic. I am responsible to the corporation for how fast, efficiently and completely I can recover the critical data.

* About a third of these executives said, I have an illogical distrust, almost a

religious aversion to the word “cloud”. It means I can’t touch my data and I shut down as soon as you say the word. It’s emotional.

* Asigra must become a known entity - we are not about to trust our critical data to a company we’ve never heard of.

So here’s what Asigra did:

“Recovery is Everything” became the new tagline, replacing “The Cloud Backup Experts”. The cloud, which blocks out the sun for many executives, was relegated to a feature. And,

* Advanced prospect personas, or personas 2.0 were developed for both prospects and non-prospects, allowing sales and marketing a unified vision and a plan for quickly understanding an inquiries’ purchase potential

* A year-round prospecting plan was developed including redesigned logo and materials; new and repurposed content and messaging refined to closely align with how executives explained their desire for a data recovery partner whose strategic goals matched their own.

It has bought them a foot in the door with some big players and a funnel of qualified leads.

David summed it up best, “Three words capture all that I have been working on for 27 years.”

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