What is an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?

An ideal customer profile template is designed around a company that has all the attributes that make a business a perfect customer for your solution and create significant value for your company. They have the right imbalances, the right size. They have buying behavior that makes them perfect for your sales team. Most of all they will realize significant value from your solution. These will be your most valuable customers because you’re solution nails their pain points eye-for-eye.

We can be even more specific than this and in fact, we have to be. Your ICP will denote how many employees a business ought to have. It will detail how decision-makers make a purchasing decision. It will identify similarities in the buying councils like job titles, common decision-maker roles, company firmographics like funding rounds, and minimum and maximum revenue. What their pain points ought to be.

In line with the rule that you cannot have success out of chaos, how much value you get from your sales and marketing efforts will be determined by how exactly you pair and frame your value proposition with companies in your ideal customer profiles.

It’s true that this is a hypothetical description of companies you want to win in your target markets but it preps the ground for an excellent foundation for marketing activities to yield better prospects so your deal conversion for new customers is significantly higher.

What is an ideal customer profile not?

The short version of this is that an ideal customer profile is not a buyer persona. Often people confuse personas with your ideal customer. Moreover, they commonly think it’s an either-or situation. We either use ideal customer profiles or we use buyer personas. In fact, this comes down to being precise with your language which is important because that shapes how you see the world, operations, and the actions you’ll take. A buyer persona defines the behavior exhibited during a buying process. It lives inside your Ideal customer profile if you will.

When we think about buying councils there are multiple decision-makers who have a variety of priorities and problems on their plate and they each have their own version of a desired future state they want to get to. These personas determine what your marketing strategies and tactics will look like, what channels they are on for awareness, and so much more.

The one thing to walk away from this is knowing that an Ideal customer profile outlines the companies that are the best target accounts in your market segments and the buyer personas are who your sales team is going to sell to when you approach these accounts.

Why develop an ideal customer profile?

You need an ideal customer profile because it will be your cornerstone of the sales and marketing tactics in your Go-to-market. It will clarify the types of buying behavior you are likely to encounter as you launch. Once this profile is defined, your target account list becomes significantly easier to create. An ICP answers the question of what companies should I market and sell to?

What happens when you don’t create an ideal customer profile?

When you don’t create an ideal customer profile you’re effectively spraying and praying at all buyer personas in a wide variety of accounts instead of going after your best customers, or better yet, your ideal customers. The ramifications boil down to gross negligence and poor stewardship of your companies investments in marketing, sales, and growth.

Imagine targeting 1000 accounts with the same messaging, you’d have multiple verticals like finance and healthcare getting the same messaging. There’s almost no world where a healthcare leader and financial leader are going to see the same value from a single message.

It gets even worse if they do. Now you’re expending higher-cost resources i.e.- sales teams to meet and try to educate the buyer on the value their supposed to glean from the positioning. That’s a lot of calorie expenditure for the buyer and for the seller. When it comes time to measure sales cycle efficiency, rep performance, marketing campaigns, marketing strategy, and overall marketing efforts, all the data will be skewed and diluted. You’ll struggle to optimize and get into a downward spiral of despair that ultimately drives infighting between sales and marketing.

Should you base it on existing customers?

More often than not, the target accounts that you want to win will not match your current customer profile. In fact, if you haven’t created an ideal customer profile and you’re already revenue positive, chances are that you’ve done a fair amount of learning in the process and know which customer profile you want to avoid in the future.

A better strategy would be to look at your current customers and identify which ones have been the best for your business. This will come down to what you prioritize. You might have some companies in your customer base that are high ticket clients with a lot of revenue associated but low net profit because they need an outsized allocation of effort during delivery. You might also have customers that a sales rep can convert rather quickly but there’s no additional revenue opportunity and they don’t stay long once you’ve solved the problem. Chances are you want to avoid both so that the average deal has a balance of good beachhead revenue, good upside for selling tall deep and wide later through your customer success team, and require less effort to support.

Once you have those customers in mind and identified. Go talk to them! Customer interviews will validate your assumptions about your target market and if you nailed your ideal customer profile.

How to create an ideal customer profile?

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is one of the most important steps in an effective marketing and sales strategy. There are multiple strategies depending on where you are in your growth journey. The first strategy might be to look back at the customers you love doing business with as we just mentioned and fit the mold of how you want to win new accounts in the future. You’ll then establish data points by enriching the company data with industry, headcount, department growth rates, revenues, externally visible signatures that indicate strategic or value alignment.

Let’s take a look at the specific data you’ll use to get started.

Firmographic Data

Firmographic data is just what it sounds like. It’s the descriptive data about the company that will be a part of your ideal customer profile templates.

It looks like SMB, Mid-market, mall enterprise, or large enterprise. It looks like relevant department size and positive or negative department growth. It looks like the geography the company operates in and/or is headquartered in. It looks like the age of the company and the industry they operate in. It looks like the specific type of customer they service. It looks like whether they are B2b or B2C or D2C. It looks like their filing status as a private, public, government, or non-profit entity.

Technographic Data

Technographic data boils down to the technology they use to conduct their business. On the surface this is simplistic, do they run Microsoft Teams of Zoom of unified communications. You might think that insignificant but if you think about it differently. There are definitely technologies that indicate a lot about your ideal customer. Whether they are innovative, or laggards in their industry.

What they do and don’t value might be based on the features of technology and what that means for how they do business. The technology itself may mean something but more often than not, it means there’s a specific type of culture there and that culture may very well be one of the common characteristics that impact a decision-making process which in turn indicates what sales cycles are going to look like. In other words, the technographic data says more than meets the eye if you’re willing to dive in and get the valuable insights you need based on real data and empirical behavior we see in the market.

Behavioral Trigger Data

Behavioral trigger data are actions the company is taking that indicate they have a problem or are about to have a problem that your best customers have. This type of real data is valuable because these indicate the compelling moments that will drive how in-market a company is and whether the job title in your buyer persona will care about what you’re offering. This could be opening a new practice, launching a new product, hiring for roles that require a specific type of experience.

It could also be how they go to market. Whether they are a mobile-first or a mobile forced company. It could be a significant jump in business growth. Large companies are easier to find this data on because it’s public. but this is often the data with the most value, that qualifies an account for additional investment.

At Ampfactor we have researchers who are on the revenue marketing team responsible for list creation who augment the easily sourceable firmographic and technographic data with human research to read into the signals a company is putting out.

Conclusion

There are different methods your marketing or product team will use to help the sales team identify new prospects in companies they think you should serve. The goal is to have an extremely tight and efficient methodology for choosing your customer, how you get their attention in the awareness stage, drive them to their first interactions, and service them as much as possible.

This always always always requires more detail than not. In doing so, the entire sales team will have a much more enjoyable sales process because your customers’ pain points are matching well with your solution and potentially the most value for both companies is being captured.

So get started creating your ideal client profile template and seeing how many companies fit the bill as your best customers. You should be well equipped to meet a decision-maker where they are in their journey and create an ideal customer out of that company.

B2B Demand Generation Programs: Content Marketing

So, how can you get the general people to remember you when they think about your industry? A solid and relevant content marketing strategy keeps you on top of search engines. It is one of the purest, dynamic ways you can communicate with your users, create rapport in the community and associate your products and services with the problem you are trying to solve.

Social media strategy, together with demand generation marketing methods like blogging, chatbots, website, and search engine optimization, you are more likely to be more discoverable. You can also help you speak directly to existing and potential clients.

Be visible where your target customers spend their time.

Social media marketing strategy is also about engaging in a more personalized approach. Creative content like special offers for loyal accounts, discounts for first-time purchasers, and on-site promos for frequent goers ending with a call-to-action strategy encourage sales and ensure you remain on top of the game.

Websites that are UX-enhanced and visitor-centric also contribute to demand generation.

In addition, consumer support and conversational marketing make the buyer’s journey more accessible and convenient.

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Put the power to decide in the hands of those on the front lines.

The very best in Demand Gen and ABM technology enabled service subscriptions for B2B teams.