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SaaS Buyer Personas – CTO, IT Manager, CISO, & More

Understanding the customer – successful interpretations of audiences’ desires have led some businesses to surprising wins, while others have made grave miscalculations that tarnished their brand’s image and wasted resources.  With this in mind, B2B buyer personas are among the most powerful tools in a SaaS company’s back pocket. It shapes their promotional strategy, sales messaging, and even who they pursue as channel partners. Therefore, we recommend you regularly refresh and build out your personas to maintain a strong connection to your customer’s pain points, aspirations, and sources of information.

If you’re a SaaS company playing catch-up, filling in the gaps, or simply wanting to see other B2B buyer personas for comparison, the provided examples can serve as springboards for your own. Remember that these are not comprehensive; it’s up to you to further flesh out the buyer persona details, assess which SaaS features most interest the prospects, and determine the ultimate decision-makers. 

The CIO Buyer Persona 

Understanding the Role of Chief Information Officer (CIO): The professional in this role does not involve themselves in day-to-day operations, instead looking for ways to influence change at a higher level. Often confused (or blended) with CTO responsibilities, CIOs focus on decision-making and improving processes, relying on others to execute and report progress. 

Why Connect With the Chief Information Officer (CIO): If it isn’t apparent, the CIO is someone who has the power to approve or veto a technology purchase. In some cases, they may be the sole decision-maker.

Example CIO Buyer Persona: 

Alice Anderson, Chief Information Officer
Alice works closely with CTO and IT leadership in providing strategic oversight and other divisions to ensure they’re adequately supported. They utilize company data and industry developments to make big-picture decisions that steer internal processes, team structures, budget allocation, and technology choices.

How Alice Gauges Success Within Their Role:

  • Building a track record of un-breached security, reinforced through technology
  • Increasing internal efficiencies without sacrificing quality output, aided by technology
  • Cutting operational costs without sacrificing quality

Personal Goals: 

  • Staying informed about the latest industry offering, particularly concerning process automation and security risks
  • Finding reliable vendors trusted to deliver and bring forth new ideas consistently 
  • Hiring the right people for the right leadership positions with which to maintain open channels of communication

Pain Points:

  • Determining how to make the most of limited technology budgets, weighing diverse demands
  • Balancing the potential of new processes and infrastructure with the resource costs and growing pains of transitioning
  • Staying ahead of increasingly insidious security breach tactics

Tips for Connecting with CIOs:

Emphasize all steps taken to minimize risk and security flaws Though it may be obvious, this point is too important to skim over. Expect questions around this topic, particularly regarding recent industry developments. Examples of talking points include your network’s uptime, the regularity of encrypted backups of databases, and software release procedures. 

Highlight cost and labor savings through comprehensive solutions and automation – The idea of consolidating the capabilities of three SaaS platforms into one will appeal to many CIOs. Speak directly to any menial actions your technology automates.

Prepare case studiesThe CIO is ultimately focused on results, so come equipped with relevant, air-tight case studies. Avoid vague language in favor of concrete numbers. 

Underscore how you continue to evolve your technology offeringCIOs are looking years down the line when making today’s decisions. Present yourself as a team that continues to innovate to keep up with ever-changing industries and security needs.

The CTO & IT Director Buyer Persona 

Understanding the Role of Chief Technology Officer & IT Director: As mentioned above, the tasks of the CTO and CIO are often combined into a single position (or the CTO and IT Director are one and the same). However, traditionally, the CTO works closely with the CIO but is responsible for guiding the execution of larger strategic decisions based on technology. Additionally, they’ll play a more prominent role in product development and using technology to service customers while the CIO focuses inward. 

The CTO can wear many hats (head of product development, overseeing security, etc.). Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to assess what other C-suite roles exist within the company to understand their individual priorities better. For example, if there is a designed Chief Security Officer, VP of Engineering, or Head of Product Development, you may better understand what isn’t their primary responsibility. 

Why Connect With the Chief Technology Officer (CTO): The CIO or leadership will rarely make technology decisions without input from the CTO; after all, the CTO will be the one spearheading the team that implements the technology. If you fail to address their concerns, you may find the CTO steering leadership away from your SaaS offering. 

Example CTO and IT Director Buyer Persona: 

Morgan Manchester, Chief Technology Officer
Morgan rose through the web development and engineering ranks, taking responsibility for more of the product with each promotion. They are the conduit between the IT team, product development, and leadership. Morgan guides the technology team on how to best execute the CIO’s decisions and the company’s overall goals. Similarly, they work hand-in-hand with Product and Customer Service teams to ensure that the company’s
user-facing technology-based output continues to satisfy.

 

How Morgan Gauges Success Within Their Role:

  • The ability of the team they put together to fulfill the technology-based needs of the organization
  • A strong track record for meeting expectations and deadlines with minimal site or technology errors
  • Identifying opportunities to improve IT operations to improve efficiency and support company goals
  • Leveraging new technologies to improve the website and technical aspects of the product for the end-user

Personal Goals: 

  • Continually grow knowledge of developing technologies
  • Nurture team members to maximize their potential
  • Find solutions to streamline day-to-day IT operations and/or improve quality

Pain Points:

  • IT and development teams fail to meet the timelines to execute projects, impacting other team’s ability to execute
  • Having to juggle and prioritize increasing demands from other teams; often leading to convoluted ticketing systems and approval processes
  • Any recurring technology-based issues, like site outages

Tips for Connecting with CTOs:

Emphasize all steps taken to minimize risk and security flaws – Much like the CIO, the CTO will assess your SaaS offering with a careful eye for risks that could compromise the end-user. When talking with the CTO, be prepared for follow-up questions about downtime, security patches, etc.

Discuss setup, integrations, and support optionsWin points with CTOs by emphasizing the ease of application and ongoing utilization by other divisions. Ultimately, this lessens the burden on their team so they can focus on other initiatives.

Speak to how your product will maximize their team’s output – Perhaps your product is an intuitive ticketing system that truncates a messy component of project management. Perhaps it would lessen the number of demands placed on IT by enabling other teams to operate semi-independently using templates.

Mention your available support services – Explain that your highly-accessible support team can act as an extension of the IT team and field questions from other company divisions.

 

The CMO Buyer Persona

Understanding the Role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO): The head of marketing may go by CMO, Marketing Director, or several other titles. What’s more, depending on the organization’s size, their direct involvement with the day-to-day decision-making may wildly vary. However, one thing remains constant – it is their responsibility to raise brand awareness and generate quality leads.

Why Connect With the CMO: For some products, the prospect’s marketing team will be a non-factor. However, given the substantial amount of money companies pour into raising their profile, there’s a good chance that many readers of this blog post will have products that speak directly to various marketing needs.

Example CMO Buyer Persona: 

Jeffrey Jones, Chief Marketing Officer
Jeffrey must answer for all marketing strategies and use of the budget. With a general understanding of many disciplines, they are not specialized in one particular field (like social media or pay-per-click). Therefore, they must build a network of diverse marketing capabilities using internal experts, outside agencies, and supplementary software. 

How Jeffrey Gauges Success Within Their Role:

  • Fulfillment of measurable marketing goals, ultimately leading to continual growth in qualified leads
  • Staying ahead of competitors in regards to seizing new opportunities, building awareness, and cementing brand trust amongst audiences 

Personal Goals: 

  • To make the most of the marketing allowance while building a case for an increased annual budget
  • To stay abreast of new marketing trends 
  • To gain new visibility into target audiences to further improve marketing tactics
  • To create a highly competent internal team or stable of vendors to handle the execution of strategies and suggest new ideas

Pain Points:

  • Lack of data to support marketing decisions and prove strategic value to leadership
  • Pressure from leadership to deliver results within expedited time-frames
  • Volatility within the marketplace, meaning success isn’t guaranteed
  • Competitors’ marketing activities nipping at his heels

Tips for Connecting with Heads of Marketing:

Be thrilling, not safe. While the above two personas are generally risk-averse, marketing professionals want to be excited rather than soothed. They’re willing to gamble on “the next” big thing if they think the potential pay-off is worth it. Just make sure that your propositions are thoroughly planned, or else they’ll come across as empty promises.

Show how you can make the most of their budget. Revisiting the above point, the Head of Marketing continually assesses risk-versus-reward and the ROI of various tactics. Highlight ways your SaaS offering can lessen their spending, whether through automation of menial tasks, better marketing data collection, or lower tooling fees than your competitors.

Come with case studies. The CIO and Head of Marketing align because both are responsible for delivering concrete results. Demonstrate your product’s track record of enabling success, ideally from companies similar to their own.

Next Step: Further Build Out the Buyer Personas Based On Industry Specifics

While we built out these buyer personas to reflect SaaS sales opportunities, this is still a broad field. We encourage you to dig deeper into your audiences, keeping the following in mind:

  • Are there specific pain points that industry professionals regularly face?
  • Are you targeting long corporations with generally long sales cycles (and red tape) or small businesses that require less internal sign-off?
  • What specific sources of media or influencers have the ear of your target audiences?
  • Based on your SaaS product’s function, who is likely to be the decision-maker? There are plenty of other roles potentially deserving of their own persona, such as Sales Directors. 

 

Create playbooks specific to individual personas. Equip your Direct Sales and partners with materials curated with particular personas in mind. Some management software (like Allbound) will suggest specific pieces to sales partners based on the current leg of the buyer’s journey based on pre-determined flows. To further evolve your sales enablement strategies, track results related to the playbooks and collect feedback from sales representatives (partners may be particularly helpful, as they connect with audiences with which you may not normally interact). Use these combined insights to further strengthen your sales enablement strategies and refine your SaaS buyer personas. 

Refine marketing content and promotional tactics. Your SaaS personas should be consulted when Marketing decides what talking points to emphasize through which medium. After all, messaging and methods to target CMOs would typically vary from those meant to reach your CIO. 

Use the buyer personas and existing sales data to create ideal prospect profiles. Not all SaaS customers are created equal and, as you collect sales performance insights, patterns should begin to emerge about which ones deliver the larger and/or lasting deals. Use this data to determine which prospects you want to pursue and prioritize in your messaging, using your existing SaaS buyer personas to guide your strategies. 

Tips for Connecting with CIOs:

Emphasize all steps taken to minimize risk and security flaws Though it may be obvious, this point is too important to skim over. Expect questions around this topic, particularly regarding recent industry developments. Examples of talking points include your network’s uptime, the regularity of encrypted backups of databases, and software release procedures. 

Highlight cost and labor savings through comprehensive solutions and automation – The idea of consolidating the capabilities of three SaaS platforms into one will appeal to many CIOs. Speak directly to any menial actions your technology automates.

Prepare case studiesThe CIO is ultimately focused on results, so come equipped with relevant, air-tight case studies. Avoid vague language in favor of concrete numbers. 

Underscore how you continue to evolve your technology offeringCIOs are looking years down the line when making today’s decisions. Present yourself as a team that continues to innovate to keep up with ever-changing industries and security needs.

The CTO & IT Director Buyer Persona 

Understanding the Role of Chief Technology Officer & IT Director: As mentioned above, the tasks of the CTO and CIO are often combined into a single position (or the CTO and IT Director are one and the same). However, traditionally, the CTO works closely with the CIO but is responsible for guiding the execution of larger strategic decisions based on technology. Additionally, they’ll play a more prominent role in product development and using technology to service customers while the CIO focuses inward. 

The CTO can wear many hats (head of product development, overseeing security, etc.). Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to assess what other C-suite roles exist within the company to understand their individual priorities better. For example, if there is a designed Chief Security Officer, VP of Engineering, or Head of Product Development, you may better understand what isn’t their primary responsibility. 

Why Connect With the Chief Technology Officer (CTO): The CIO or leadership will rarely make technology decisions without input from the CTO; after all, the CTO will be the one spearheading the team that implements the technology. If you fail to address their concerns, you may find the CTO steering leadership away from your SaaS offering. 

Read More to Further Your Understanding of Your B2B Audiences

Improve your SaaS sales game beyond these example buyer personas with the following articles:
Auditing Your B2B Sales Funnel – Recommended Process and Tips
The 4 Stages of the B2B Buying Process
5 B2B Lead Generation Strategies that Work
5 Components of an Effective Sales Enablement Strategy: Channel + Direct

 

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