If I hear one more marketer tell me that the sales team is their “eyes and ears to the customer” I am going to scream.

There’s no doubt that your sales team is likely on the phone with current and prospective customers more than you are.  But their job is not to build your personas for you.  They are not there to help determine who the active members of your buying committee are.

Your sales reps shouldn’t be expected to objectively develop personas that represent your market.  And just because one sales rep had one phone call with one prospect, doesn’t mean the nature of that conversation reflects how the rest of the market feels as well.

In an ideal scenario, what you hear from your sales team represents clues and triggers that might help you identify new trends or themes worth pursuing.  Their insights are indicative or directional, not definitive.

More often, those random insights will just distract you and make your personas far more inconsistent and inaccurate than they should be.

Marketers, accept no substitute for your own first-hand market research.  Get on the phone with your prospects and customers more often.  Commission your own research (it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive) to establish market trends, needs and objectives.

Gather as much evidence as you can from the customer-facing teams around you, no question. But take direct responsibility for the marketing intelligence and persona/buying journey detail that will (or at least should) serve as a foundation for the bulk of your marketing efforts.