As a Sales Operations Manager, people are often curious as to why I create Persona Profiles for my key internal stakeholders.
The answer is simple. After wasting countless hours running in circles of ineffective communication with senior leaders, I decided that something had to change! If any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you, rest assured you are not alone:
- Being asked for an update on a key issue, knowing the person has received multiple emails from you on that topic
- Trying to present a high level update to senior leaders while getting regular requests for more detail and data to support the points being delivered
- Attending a cross-functional meeting to learn that nobody has read the detailed report in advance
- Rescheduling a 30-minute meeting with a key decision maker multiple times because of their hectic schedule
Over the years I have faced these challenges regularly, so when I came across the concept of Persona Profiling I couldn’t resist seeing what would happen if I took that approach with my own internal communications.
The approach was simple and involved understanding a few key factors about the communication style of my internal stakeholders.
- What information is important for them to receive, and how often?
Just because the sales manager needs to be notified every time a deal is closed, it doesn’t mean everyone else does. Taking the time to understand who needs tactical versus strategic information will ensure that the emails you do send are relevant to your stakeholders.
- What format do they prefer to get their information? A visual graph, or a table?
In a visual world, it’s sometimes easy to forget that people may still prefer a simple table with a category, number and percentage rather than a series of graphs, heat maps etc. Knowing who will be receiving the information and accommodating their communication preferences will go a long way to avoid repeated iterations.
- When is a summary enough, and when do they require a full report?
You may be dying to explain the success of your project in a detailed 52 slide PowerPoint presentation, (with supporting notes). However, the Head of Sales may only have the requirement, and time, to read a one page summary. On the other hand, they might be expecting a more detailed update on a business problem analysis you have been working on. Know what is important and use your time wisely!
- How do they prefer to communicate – is it by phone, email, in person etc.?
This one is simple. Communication is a two way process and if the way you are sending the information is different to how they best receive it, then you will have problems.
- How available are they to meet with you based on their typical schedule?
And this one is more difficult. With triple booked calendars being a common theme today, it may be daunting to agree availability in advance. Spending some time up front to understand how long you will need for different types of conversations will help make sure you don’t schedule an hour meeting for something which can be covered in 15 minutes – and vice versa. If the meeting is important, the time will be found.
From understanding this, I was able to create a Persona Profile with a focus on communications which allows me better manage my internal relationships. This allows me to provide the right information, to the right people, in the right format and at the right time to support effective decision making.
Coupled with the fact that I no longer feel like I am running in circles – it’s a win win for all involved!