An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), also known as an ideal buyer profile, reflects the ideal customer for the “problem” that your company solves. When we use the term Ideal Customer we are not referring to an actual customer. In fact, it is a tool that can help you identify the characteristics of a prospect.
An ICP, when defined correctly, can help you to determine the problems you’re trying to solve and align your product/service capabilities with the needs of your customers. If your company, for example, uses account-based marketing, an ICP can help you in focusing on selling to specific accounts that best fit your needs.
Many of you may wonder, why not send every lead to sales? The answer is simple; some leads may not be a good fit and you may end up putting too much effort into prospects that are highly unlikely to convert into the clients you are looking for.
Your sales reps can waste time chasing down leads who were never going to buy. Or even worse, they sign clients that are not a fit for your company. The more you know exactly who’s going to buy from you, the better.
In practice, if a new prospect is an exact match for your ideal customer profile, then you should invest a lot of effort in selling to them. People or companies which have a slightly weaker fit with this picture may still be worth selling to, but the sales cycle may be longer, the chances of success are probably lower, and it’s better to target them later with less effort.
How to create your ICP?
If you don’t know how to create your ICP, a good starting point is to look at your current customers. Use account data to identify similarities among your existing customers you are happy with. Then try to reach other industries with similar characteristics, based on their type of industry, geographical location, function titles, etc.
Consider the following main characteristics when you want to make an outline of your ICP:
- Type of industries – what kind of industries is your product addressed?
- Employee size – what’s your client’s average employee size?
- Function titles – which are the job titles of your current and previous customers? Use that profile to test the real prospects of a win-win sale with all of your current sales objectives.
- Location – where are the companies you want to target located?
- Your solution – what can you do to help them? Which are the biggest challenges or problems you can solve for them or help them with?
- Budget / Revenue / Fundings – what is the lowest cost threshold that a customer would have to pay for your product or service?
- Company status – are your customers profitable?
- Legality – are there legal reasons that limit your potential customer base, maybe age, location, or government restrictions?
Notice that all of these examples share one feature: they are measurable and objective. Nevertheless, this is a non-exhaustive list but a great starting point when trying to identify what your ideal customer looks like. As a result, by identifying these features, you can gain a holistic perspective of what a lead needs to have to buy from you. If they don’t meet all of the predefined characteristics that you’ve set, you can disqualify them and ensure your sales reps spend time with leads that are a good fit.
There are various useful ICP templates available to help you in organising the data you’ve gathered. Even though you can make your own ideal customer profile template with a simple spreadsheet or table and then add the questions and answers listed above.
How to use your ICP
When you’ve finished the identification process and you’ve built your company’s ICP, it’s time to start using it.
The ICP enables you to evaluate new prospects against a checklist. For example, you can focus on similarities with companies that have previously purchased your product and are satisfied with it.
By the end of the ICP identification, you should have a very clear picture of the environment in which your ideal customer operates, the pain points they experience, and the goals they attempt to reach. In this way, you will be able to apply your sales strategy effectively.
Along with the above-mentioned benefits, ICPs also facilitate the alignment of your sales and marketing teams on the core value proposition. When salespeople and marketers have a clear understanding of who they are targeting, their efforts are much more effective.