Just like “it takes a village to raise a child”, an ideal customer profile takes time, people, and money to attract, convert, and satisfy new customers. And this is what every business professional is trying to do, “attract, convert, and satisfy new customers”. So, it is a must to ensure that you have allocated your resources to such prospects who will deliver the highest return. Let’s be true to ourselves, you cannot market to everyone and hence you cannot make everyone happy.
An ideal customer profile is used to identify, source, and prioritize your best suitable prospects. But, how to create an ICP in the first place?
First, let’s come on the same page on why anyone should go through the creation of an ICP in the first place. Just two words: finite resources.
Along with the benefits mentioned above, ideal customer profile can be used to ensure that the existing customers are a long-term fit, an ICP also tells your teams about the resources which are needed to keep your existing customers feeling supported, valued and part of your community. By thoroughly understanding your ICP, you can become aware in solving their pain points.
What Is An Ideal Customer Profile?
An Ideal Customer Profile is defined by a company firmographic data: a set of qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the company’s best-fit accounts. (The ICP at company-level is usually confused with Buyer Persona, which is based on the characteristics of an individual buyer.)
Creation of an Ideal Customer Profile is a highly strategic activity which must involve senior leadership, sales, and marketing teams to agree and develop the definition and the parameters of the characteristics fueling into this definition.
Help your sales and marketing teams by making them aware what an ICP can do for them:
Boost your effectiveness by focusing your teams on scalable and repeatable strategies which reaches and nurture your best prospect with the right response.
Cut down your sales cycle by shortening the awareness stage time in the buyer’s journey. Your qualified prospects may already be looking for a solution like yours or already using a solution from your competitor.
More successfully closed sales deals – prospects making their way into your sales pipeline are more likely to have the interest, budget, and requirement needed for your solution to have value.
Good fit opportunities and prospect won will convert into most fit customers having a lower churn rate.
Now, let’s dig into how to do it.
Step 1: Find Your Data
Start simple: Take stock of your existing customer database and identify their common characteristics.
Export all the opportunities data from your CRM and append the customer data as per the requirement.
Finally, look for patterns. It is unique for every business. You may notice they are concentrated in a specific industry, a particular region of a specific country, similar size, or involve a very specific buyer.
Step 2: Identify Your Best Fit Customers
Now take the activity mentioned above a step further by sharpening in on your best customer data universe.
Remember, it’s unique for every business; you’ll have to establish what “best” means to you. Go through the following common criteria:
The highest potential for growth
Highest customer health score
Highest net promoter score (NPS)
Highest annual contract value or total contract value (ACV or TCV)
Longest time with your company or highest retention rate
You should also consider the customer accounts which have been most profitable.
Once you are done setting up your criteria, repeat the activity mentioned above. Finalize the data and find similarities or patterns among this final data.
Step 3: Find The Similarities
Some patterns may seem complex at first and some pattern may even jump out at you.
To get yourself started, ask the following questions:
Are they in a similar industry?
Are they all in the same stage of life?
Do they have a common geographic location?
What’s the employee count at these organization?
Although there are some limitations here like segmentation tools and the granularity of your data, these are the only limitations here.
The characteristics of your best existing customers lay the foundation for your ideal customer profile. This ICP genuinely represents your best future customers as it is based on data of your best existing customer.
Step 4: Prioritize And Implement
Based on your evaluation results, assign a best-fit rating metric to compare and evaluate an account with your ICP. You would then be able to utilize this rating framework to align and prioritize your strategies and resources, along with identifying future target account and prospects.
Bad Fit: Companies who are not based in North America, having less than 100 employees count, who does not distribute and manufacture software security.
Good Fit: Companies based in North America, having more than 200 employees count, who sells and manufacture software security.
Best Fit: Companies based in the U.S, having more than 500 employees count, who sells and manufacture software security.
This will help you in qualifying and prioritizing inbound leads. It also gives strategic direction for your outbound target account lists, to ensure that your team(s) is/are reaching out to the best-fit accounts with your solution offering.
Think of your ICP as the North Star for your entire sales and marketing teams, just follow your North Star. So, when a company does not fit your ICP, it’s highly likely that that company is not a fit for your solution. The smart decision is to move on and not waste time drifting in the vast universe of possibilities.
Keep updating your ICP at regular intervals by re-evaluating rating metrics for the best-fit accounts. Updating your ICP at a year interval is good but can be reduced according to industry charges. Remember, if you are making a change in your ICP, the resources and strategies have to be modified accordingly.