Salespeople say that around 50 percent of the leads they encounter are a bad fit.
They probably aren’t surprised by the lack of purchase intent: nearly half of them agree that prospecting is the most difficult part of their job. If you attract the right attention with your marketing campaigns, it doesn’t have to be.
Without a defined audience, lead generation can resemble target practice with a blindfold. Fill half of your contact database with bad fits, and your sales team will continue to struggle with prospecting. This can all change when you build an ideal customer profile (ICP).
What is an ideal customer profile?
ICPs describe the business that your product or service is designed for. The common characteristics of those businesses give you criteria you can use to evaluate – and filter – potential leads.
ICPs can cover any criteria that allows you to filter prospects, but most include:
- Business size;
- Existing technology.
Those that don’t meet that criteria shouldn’t be the focus of your marketing effort. Instead, target your marketing efforts to those that most closely resemble the ideal customer.
Accurately targeted campaigns translate to closed leads. Take the example of email marketing, which has the highest ROIof any comms channel. By some counts, revenue increases by up to 760 percent with contact segmentation.
Building an ideal customer profile
The efficacy of an ICP hinges on its accuracy. The profile isn’t a wish-list – instead, it should be a realistic reflection of the businesses that invest in your offering. Here’s how to ensure it’s on-target.
Identify your best customers (and what they have in common)
Who better to base your ICP on than businesses that have already demonstrated purchase intent? Build your ICP with data from existing customers. Then you can confidently shape campaigns around those characteristics.
When creating a shortlist of customers to profile, look for:
- Long-term customers;
- Customers that have seen measurable ROI from your offering;
- Accounts that have bought more of your product or service;
- Customers that have a good working relationship with your team;
- Customers that have helped you shape product or service development.
List the firmographic and technographic characteristics they share. If there’s a pattern in terms of company size, industry or existing technology, target businesses with the same profile.
Talk to your team (and your customers)
Supplement information about technology stacks and headcounts with context from your sales team. Understanding your ideal customer’s journey helps you highlight relevant benefits (and head off objections) at the campaign stage:
- What questions did they ask during the first sales call?
- What hurdles did they have to overcome during the sales process?
- How easily did your product or offering integrate with their existing tools?
- How smooth was adoption?
The chances are that your most valuable customers will also be willing to talk to you. Ask them about the problem your offering solves, how they discovered your business, and what questions they needed answering along the way.
An ICP is only effective if it’s accessible
Collate the information you’ve gathered into a clear template. It should describe your ideal customer at-a-glance. And save it somewhere everyone can access it. Everyone from executives to business development representatives need to understand what it is and why you built it.
Why? As the experts at Gartner put it:
“Even in companies that have defined an ICP, its use is limited to marketing briefs or new hire orientations. By contrast, in high-growth companies, the ICP is integral to marketing and sales strategy and execution.”
To close the loop on improved lead generation results, your sales team should have a full understanding of your ICP, too. With it, they can filter firmographic and technographic data on new prospects. And the ICP insights can inform their conversations.
An integrated effort from campaign to close will ensure that you’re delivering targeted, relevant messaging throughout the customer journey. Follow the steps above, and the prospects receiving that messaging will be ready to hear what your sales team has to say.