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The Rise of the Detractor Persona

27 Jul 2017 | 3 MIN READ

We all have a type. Usually you know what she looks like. You may have met her once or twice. Your friends told you about her personality: she’s introverted, loves to read, and wants a family. She works at an Enterprise tech startup in San Jose.

You think to yourself, “she’s perfect”! So your friends set you up and you have your first date. Turns out, she’s not quite what you thought.

She’s actually more of an extrovert and she loves being outdoors. She does work in tech but is looking to move a B2C company in San Francisco. She’s also looking for someone new, but it’s not you. Turns out, you’re both not right for each other.

You’re a very large man, high maintenance, drink whisky and require a lot of attention. She’s looking for someone more light weight, independent, fast and low maintenance. Someone that loves traveling, wine tasting, doesn’t want kids and loves talking politics. She likes to try out a few new guys, and she doesn’t have time to waste. She’s looking for Mr. Right Now.

Sound familiar? Well it should. Not only is that real life, it’s real life professionally.

In this scenario, you are the feature-bloated enterprise software trying to sell to the mid market SaaS company; looking for a cloud-based solution that she can test now, on her terms, and when she is ready, buy on her terms. Get it?

You’re trying to sell to the wrong person. You’re not right for her, she is what I like to call the Detractor Persona. Once the date is over, she’s definitely talking shit about you to her friends. Not only did you make a bad impression on her, you made a bad impression on her friends, and her friends friends via social. You’ve been detracted. Your NPS score is crap.

How can this be prevented?

First, stop listening to your friends, who know less than you. Then start interviewing customers that have churned or those who didn’t buy in the first place. You’re going to see patterns very quickly. Patterns, that when looking back, seem obvious.

You knew that your Enterprise offering is only right for large, + 10,000 employee companies. That it is hybrid, but mostly on-premise. That your sales cycle is long and installation is longer. But you’re stable, strong and perfect for the right company that loves those qualities. Usually FinTech and Healthcare. So why the hell were you trying to sell to her?

Because you have a hard time saying “no”. Because you were under pressure to deliver leads and flooded the pipeline for a momentary boost of adrenaline that inevitably caught up to you at the end of the quarter.

This problem is easy to avoid. Clearly define your top two or three influencer and buyer personas. Then build out your detractor persona. Don’t do it in a silo. Work with Sales, Product and Engineering to develop them fully. Most importantly, interview customers and former customers. They will tell you what data won’t.

What matters most is not what they say, but how they say it. Their words are gold. Take those interviews and use them to create amazing design, copy, illustration and content. Content that perfectly mirrors who they really are.

Now you’re much more likely to attract Ms. Right. When you catch Ms. Wrong, tag her and set her free. Next time you see her, politely say hello but end it there. She’ll appreciate your candor, and while she won’t buy from you, she certainly won’t be a detractor.

Did you enjoy this? Please Like and Share. Got questions? @davidbaeza