Buyer Persona Questions: 25 Key Things to Learn About Your Target Audience

As a marketer, you know the importance of understanding your target audience inside and out. After all, the foundation of any successful marketing strategy is a deep knowledge of who your ideal customer is, what they care about, and how your product or service fits into their lives.

One powerful way to gain these critical insights is by developing buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of your target customers based on research and data. Buyer personas go beyond basic demographic information to paint a holistic picture of your customer, including their goals, challenges, behaviors, and buying preferences.

But how do you actually go about gathering all that intel? The key is asking the right questions – both of your current customers and of your internal teams and data sources.

In this guide, we‘ll walk you through 25 essential buyer persona questions to ask, with specific examples and prompts in each category. Plus, we‘ve included a free buyer persona template you can use to organize your findings and share them across your organization.

By the end, you‘ll be equipped to conduct your own buyer persona research and craft detailed profiles that inform every aspect of your marketing. Let‘s dive in!

What Exactly is a Buyer Persona?

First, let‘s get clear on what we mean by a "buyer persona". A buyer persona is a detailed description of your target customer that goes beyond surface-level demographics to capture key psychographic and behavioral attributes.

Robust buyer personas typically include information like:

  • Personal background (age, gender, education, family status, etc.)
  • Job title, role, and responsibilities
  • Company size, industry, and business model
  • Key goals, challenges, and success metrics
  • Behavioral traits and quirks
  • Objections and perceived barriers
  • Preferred communication channels and content formats
  • Real quotes that encapsulate their experience

For example, here‘s a sample buyer persona for a project management software company:

Project Manager Priya

  • Mid-level project manager at a 200-person IT consulting firm
  • 32 years old, married with a 2-year old daughter
  • Responsible for planning and executing client projects on time and on budget
  • Biggest challenges: Gaining visibility across multiple workstreams, managing remote team members, and getting stakeholder buy-in
  • Seeks digital tools to streamline processes and improve collaboration
  • Prefers self-service product trials and user reviews over sales interactions
  • Most active on LinkedIn and subscribes to industry blogs and newsletters
  • "I need a tool that keeps everyone on the same page and makes it easy to track project status in real-time."

See how this snapshot brings the persona to life and provides direction on how to market and sell to Priya?

Insights like these help inform everything from the products you build to the content you create to the channels you show up on. According to research by Cintell, companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are 2.4X as likely to have formal personas in place than those who miss their targets.

How to Research Your Buyer Personas

Now that we‘re clear on what buyer personas entail, let‘s talk about how to actually research them. Conducting persona research can seem daunting, but it doesn‘t have to be a massive undertaking.

The first step is to identify a representative sample of customers and prospects to interview. Aim for 3-5 people that match each of your key personas. The best candidates are:

  • Recent customers who have just been through the buying process
  • Loyal, long-term customers who can speak to the full customer lifecycle
  • Lost deals who can share why they chose a different solution
  • Employees in your target persona‘s role

The goal is to have in-depth, 1:1 conversations that go beyond surface-level details. Surveys can help gather high-level persona insights at scale, but interviews are where you‘ll uncover the really meaty, qualitative findings.

Some tips for getting people to participate in persona interviews:

  • Leverage your customer success and account management teams to identify and intro you to friendly customers
  • Offer an incentive, like a gift card or exclusive content piece
  • Share how their insights will be used to improve the product and customer experience
  • Make it clear that it‘s not a sales conversation, but an opportunity to be heard
  • Be flexible on timing and format (in-person, phone, video) to accommodate their schedules

In addition to interviews, you can also mine internal sources to enrich your buyer personas:

  • CRM data on closed-won and closed-lost deals
  • Customer support tickets and chat logs
  • Website and social media analytics
  • Competitive intelligence on how other companies talk about and target your persona
  • Surveys and feedback forms
  • Interviews with sales, success, and product team members

The key is to triangulate quantitative and qualitative insights from a variety of first and third-party sources. Now, let‘s look at the specific questions to ask in your persona interviews.

25 Buyer Persona Questions to Ask

We‘ve broken down our list of essential buyer persona questions into seven key categories:

  1. Personal Background
  2. Role & Responsibilities
  3. Company Details
  4. Goals & Challenges
  5. Typical Workday
  6. Watering Holes
  7. Decision Making & Purchasing

Within each category, we‘ll share specific question prompts and explain why those details matter. Let‘s break it down.

Personal Background

Demographic details like age, gender, income, and education level form the foundation of your buyer persona. These attributes help you identify key commonalities and visualize your persona as a real person.

Questions to ask:

  1. Walk me through your career path – what roles have you held leading up to your current position?
  2. Tell me about your educational background: Which schools did you attend and what did you study?
  3. Share a bit about your personal life: Are you married? Do you have kids? What are some of your hobbies and interests?

Role & Responsibilities

Next, dive into the specifics of your persona‘s job and day-to-day functions. Understanding what their role entails and how they‘re measured helps you position your product as a solution to their key problems.

Questions to ask:
4. What is your current job title and how long have you held this position?
5. What are your primary job responsibilities? Which skills are essential for your role?
6. Tell me about the team you work on: What functions are represented and where do you fit in? Who do you report to?
7. How is success measured for your role? What are the key performance indicators you‘re responsible for?

Company Details

It‘s also critical to understand the broader context your persona operates in. Company size, industry, business model, and growth stage all impact the buying process and solution requirements.

Questions to ask:
8. How big is your company in terms of employees and revenue?
9. What industry is your company in? Who are your primary customers?
10. What is your company‘s growth stage (startup, SMB, enterprise)?

Goals & Challenges

Perhaps the most important category of buyer persona questions uncovers your target customer‘s primary goals and pain points. These insights get to the heart of how your product or service creates value.

Questions to ask:
11. What are your top priorities in your current role?
12. What are the biggest challenges you face in achieving your goals?
13. What does a successful year look like for you personally? What about for your wider team/department?

For example, a Director of IT might share that his number one goal is to modernize the company‘s tech stack to enable greater efficiency and agility. But his biggest challenge is getting buy-in from the C-suite to invest in new tools.

In this case, some potential angles to position your solution could be:

  • Showcase ROI metrics and case studies that speak to the bottom-line impact
  • Develop content around building a business case for new technology
  • Equip champions like your persona with presentation templates and key proof points to socialize with decision makers

Typical Workday

Persona questions about your target customer‘s typical workday help you understand where your product or service might fit into their routine and identify key moments to engage them.

Questions to ask:
14. Walk me through a typical day for you, from when you start working to when you finish.
15. What activities take up the most time in your day? The least?
16. Which tools and software do you use regularly to do your job?

For example, if your persona spends a large chunk of their day in their email inbox or project management platform, you could explore an integration with those tools to make your product a seamless part of their workflow.

Watering Holes

This category aims to suss out where your target buyer goes to find new information, learn best practices, and engage with their peers. The goal is to meet them where they‘re already spending time.

Questions to ask:
17. How do you prefer to learn new skills or stay current on industry trends? (Blogs, podcasts, social media, events, etc.)
18. What publications or thought leaders do you follow and trust?
19. What kind of events do you attend (online or in-person)?

Use what you learn to prioritize the marketing channels and tactics to reach your persona. For example:

  • If they rely heavily on peer recommendations, invest in customer advocacy and review sites
  • If they regularly attend a certain conference, explore sponsorship opportunities or pitch a speaking session
  • If they subscribe to an industry newsletter, look into paid placement or sponsored content

Decision Making & Purchasing

Finally, you need to understand your persona‘s buying process and criteria. These details help you create content for each stage of their journey and equip your sales team to close deals.

Questions to ask:
20. Think about a recent purchase of a product or service similar to ours – what prompted you to look for a solution?
21. How did you research and evaluate different options? Which sources did you consult?
22. What criteria did you use to compare solutions? How did you make your final decision?
23. Who else was involved in the selection and buying process? What role did each stakeholder play?
24. Describe your experience with the sales process and reps from the vendor you chose. What did they do well? What could they have done better?
25. How do you prefer to interact with vendors? (Email, phone, virtual meetings, etc.)

For example, you might learn that a key buying trigger is a company initiative around digital transformation. Preferred evaluation resources include analyst reports, peer reviews, and vendor comparison guides. And the decision making committee includes an executive sponsor, end users, and IT.

You can use these insights to:

  • Create thought leadership content on digital transformation
  • Pursue placement in key analyst reports and review sites
  • Develop customer case studies and testimonials
  • Arm your sales team with competitive battle cards and executive presentation templates
  • Ensure your product meets IT‘s security and compliance requirements

Putting it All Together: Crafting Your Buyer Persona

Once you‘ve conducted your persona interviews and gathered key insights, it‘s time to distill your findings into a clear, actionable persona document.

buyer persona example

We recommend including the following sections:

  • Persona name and image
  • Role and company details
  • Demographic info
  • Goals and challenges
  • Identifiers (Social media habits, watering holes, communication preferences, etc.)
  • Objections and risks
  • Preferred content and channels
  • Real quotes
  • Brief statement summarizing their story

To make it easy, we‘ve created a free buyer persona template you can use to build out your profiles: Download the Persona Template

For more guidance and inspiration, check out these buyer persona examples: https://www.marketingscoop.com/marketing/buyer-persona-examples

Applying Your Buyer Personas: Best Practices

Buyer personas are a powerful tool for aligning your entire organization around a shared understanding of your customer. But they‘re only valuable if you put them to use.

Here are some best practices for infusing your personas into your marketing efforts:

  • Socialize across teams: Don‘t let your persona document become shelfware. Share it widely and reference it often in planning and strategy discussions. Print out copies to hang in common areas as a constant reminder.

  • Map persona content: Use your persona insights to inform your content planning. Map out the content needs and preferences for each persona at each stage of the funnel. Then, prioritize development to fill key gaps.

  • Segment and personalize: Use your persona data points to segment your database and tailor your marketing messages and tactics. Even subtle personalization, like using industry-specific language, can go a long way.

  • Optimize your website: Structure your website content and navigation around your core personas‘ needs and priorities. Ensure the imagery, language, and calls-to-action resonate.

  • Enable your sales team: Arm your reps with persona-specific talk tracks, objection handling, and content. Train them on the nuances of each persona‘s buying process and preferences.

  • Inform product roadmap: Share key persona findings with your product team to guide development priorities. Translate persona needs into specific user stories and feature requirements.

  • Refine over time: Your buyer personas should be living documents that you continually update as your market and customers evolve. Establish a regular cadence to review and refresh your personas based on new information and insights.

Conclusion

We covered a lot in this guide! Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Buyer personas are research-based profiles that go beyond demographics to capture your target customer‘s goals, challenges, behaviors, and preferences.

  • Effective persona research involves a mix of 1:1 customer interviews and mining internal and external data sources.

  • Asking the right questions is critical to uncovering meaningful persona insights. We shared 25 key questions across seven categories, from personal background to buying process.

  • Once you‘ve conducted your research, craft clear, actionable persona profiles using the free template.

  • Socialize your personas widely and integrate them into every aspect of your marketing strategy, from content and website to sales enablement and product marketing.

  • Continually refine your personas as your market and customers evolve.

Armed with this repeatable buyer persona research process and question set, you‘re well equipped to build holistic profiles that allow you to engage your target audience with the right message in the right place at the right time.

Remember, deeply understanding your customer is the foundation of all great marketing. Investing the time upfront to develop robust buyer personas will pay dividends in more relevant, efficient, and effective programs and campaigns.