The Importance of Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Generating qualified sales leads for your business does not happen by accident. To be really successful and to deliver leads that result in a higher win rate and happier customers there need to be processes in place. You have to figure out what kind of leads your sales team are likely to convert, which will deliver the highest value, which are a good fit for your product or service, and work the lead generation processes back from there.
A huge part of delivering the right kind of sales leads for your business is ensuring that you have a good understanding of your Ideal Customer Profile. By that we mean knowing exactly which types of customer will produce the orders and recurring revenue to make your business successful in the long term. A lot of this work will already have been done by product development and product marketing teams, but it’s important for all marketing functions to put the Ideal Customer Profile at the heart of what they do so that all awareness and lead generation activity is focussed on the right people.
For companies with mature sales operations the basis of an Ideal Customer Profile might already exist in the form of a target account list, strategic account list or other form of curated list of prospective customers. If that is the case the emphasis is then on the sales operations and marketing teams to build an Ideal Customer Profile based on common traits found within the companies on the target account list and to use this in future marketing activities. A group of target customers will often share common challenges, so developing messaging that speaks to and addresses those challenges will create a greater impact and resonate with decision makers more.
For companies that don’t have such a list there is additional work to be done. In collaboration with senior management and sales operations time should be spent identifying the types of company that will lead to more orders and higher retention rates. Questions that might be asked to develop the Ideal Customer Process could include…
- What industry are they in? (so I can make sure my company’s product is relevant)
- What annual turnover do they have? (so I know that they are likely to have sufficient budget to invest in my product)
- How may employees do they have? (so I can ascertain how likely they are to be facing the challenges my solution solves)
- What is the size of their [e.g. finance] department? (so I know how likely it is that there is somebody there to manage this already)
- Are they a public or private company? (so I understand how growth oriented they are)
- If public, what stage are they at? (so I know how aggressive their growth plans are)
- What problem are they looking to solve? (so I know that my solution is relevant)
It is easy to get swept away in the excitement of building and launching products, but without a solid understanding of who your product is for and who is likely to value it the most you risk missing the mark with marketing activity and experiencing frustrating sales conversations. With good processes in place that align the core functions of product, sales and marketing around a well-defined view of the ideal customer you will have more impactful campaigns that lead to better converting leads, and will be maximising your marketing investment.
Simon is an experienced marketer who spent 15 years working client-side for some of the world’s leading tech brands including Adobe, Oracle and McAfee. He now provides marketing consulting and campaign management services for fast growing B2B tech companies and ambitious start-ups.