The ideal customer profile or ICP in sales is a common practice helping companies identify ideal customers across all industries. By defining ICP, your company will be able to sell more by targeting the right audience.
If you are a company focusing on B2B marketing, creating a profile of your ideal customer can be a powerful strategic tool. This can help optimize your resources while ensuring higher ROI. Whether you are a sales manager or a sales-oriented company owner, this is your guide to everything you must know about an ICP in sales.
What is an ICP in Sales?
An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) defines the standard characteristics and interests of your best customers. It identifies the perfect customer who is most likely to buy your product or services. Someone who understands your product/service uses it frequently and how to achieve good results.
A sales strategy with an ICP-focused approach can make it easier for you to create an outbound prospecting campaign using relevant messaging. This will enable you to strike a credible connection with the audience as your campaign identifies with their challenges, needs, and desires.
You will not only optimize your approach to produce potent leads but also manage to save time, money, and resources.
Benefits of defining your ICP in Sales
ICP can offer myriads of benefits in sales operations. Some of the most significant advantages of using ICP in sales include:
Easier Lead Generation
Putting together a customer profile will help you identify the exact characteristics of your ideal customers. The data gathered during this activity will be a goldmine for your sales team as they will be able to use this information to target specific markets and customers. Doing so will help with easier lead generation.
The leads you collect will also be the most potent leads. This means they will most likely enter your sales funnel, i.e., convert from being a visitor on your website into paying customers. For example, your customer’s characteristics involve social media surfing to search for products and services. In this scenario, you will head to websites such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.
You will use your promotional campaigns without invading customers’ privacy and wait for them to engage in their own time.
- Increasing your Conversion Rate
How many leads do you generate actually convert into customers? For example, your sales team generates 200 leads each month, but you only get to convert 25% into buying customers. ICP can help narrow down the focus on leads with more purchasing likelihood.
- Boosting Account-Based Campaigns
Did you know 65% of the customers willingly share personal information in exchange for personalized discounts and offers? Whereas personalized calls-to-action boosts your chances to convert by 202%. This show that customers profiling can be a real revenue booster as your sales team can customize message according to each individual or group of customers.
- Building Loyalty
Lead generation and successful conversion are not the end of the sales journey. Your focus should be on customer retention to keep them coming back for more. You must keep your existing customers around and encourage and instill loyalty for your brand amongst them.
You can use ICP in sales for retargeting old customers and educating them about new and upcoming products, promotions, and discounts. Retaining existing customers is five times cheaper than acquiring new ones.
- Efficient Sales Cycles
The sales cycle is both resource and time-intensive in its initial phase. Integrating an Ideal Customer Profile into your promotional campaign can fix this issue to make your lead generation more effective and quick. This will help your sales team close the deal quickly and free up time to pursue other leads for revenue generation. If your sales cycles are not efficient you may want to consider fractional sales management.
5 Challenges for Startups defining their ICP in Sales
Creating an ICP is a tedious exercise and prone to errors. You can easily make a mistake that derails the entire activity. If you are a startup, you must beware of the following challenges when defining your ICP in sales.
- Not enough Data to Define Your ICP
ICP contains a list of characteristics, behaviors, and interests of customers and businesses you would like to engage. As a startup, you may not have enough data to develop a detailed ICP. However, you can overcome this challenge by leveraging data from the market and conducting research on competitors. Iterate on this process as you talk to more customers. If you need someone to collect research consider using a site like Upwork or Fiverr.
- Access to Firmographic Data Only
While firmographic data can be incredibly useful to create ICP, you need to be more specific about the company’s size, industry, and geographic location. You will also need to determine the driving factor behind your target accounts’ purchasing decisions or how your product solves your customers’ problems.
As a startup, you may not have enough data on this front. You have to wait till you have enough information to refine your ICP and make it error-free.
- Integrating all Departments
When you are in the initial phases of startup, it is hard to get every department on board for input on ICP creation. It is mostly your sales and marketing team doing most of the research and defining who your ideal customers can be.
However, other departments such as your customer services and accounts receivables can also offer valuable insight into whom your ideal customers are. For example, if you are a B2B company, your accounts receivable department can give you information on the quickest paying customers and which industry they belong to.
- Waiting to Update Your Ideal Customer Profile
An ICP is not static and must evolve. As a startup, you will have to wait for this cycle to begin as you build up your data bank with useful info to refine your ideal customer profile. This can be a real hurdle in reaching your true potential in the initial phase because what a customer needs today may not be their priority in the future.
If you’re having trouble defining your ICP, you may want to consider looking at getting help from an outsourced sales service provider.
Steps for Creating Your ICP in Sales
First, you must remember that there isn’t a “one ICP fits all” kind of formula for customer profiling. You have to research and figure out an ICP for your specific niche. Creating your ICP is not a complex process and involves four steps.
Step #1 – Identifying Your Best Customers
Identifying the characteristics of your ideal customer is the first step in creating your ICP. Do keep in mind that there a different ways of defining an ideal customer. For instance, you may compare the lifetime value a customer offers, how long a customer is likely to stay with you, how long it takes for a person to convert into a paying customer, etc.
Learn as much as you can from your existing customers to better understand which ones always end up buying from you. It would help if you also focused on other demographics such as their age, gender, location, profession, personal interest, etc.
Once you have a list of all traits, it is time for you to move to the next step.
Step #2 – Researching into Common Qualities
In this step, you must ask the following questions.
- What common attributes do your customers share?
- Is your company growing fast?
- Are you focusing on pay-per-click marketing or SEO?
- When was the last time a customer purchased from you?
Other factors you must look into include:
- Company’s Size – you may be a large enterprise or a startup. It may take you longer to define an ICP as a larger company because you have too many variables to consider. Once you have outlined the ICP, you have to stay on top of the changing data and keep upgrading the best customer profile.
- Type of Industry – this will determine the type of messages you will send to the best possible customers. This factor will also determine the mode of communication you may be using. For instance, sending out emails and texts is a better option if you are an IT solution provider. In the case of being a retail business, sending out promotions emails and door-to-door vouchers may sound like a more viable option, etc.
- Location – is your ideal customer based in the home market or internationally? This will also determine the tone, language, and cultural differences and use them to your advantage.
The more data you gather, the better your defined ICP will be. Although, you must ensure not to have more than three ICPs using your current data results.
Step#3 – Outlining Challenges and Opportunities
This step involves defining the challenges your ICPs face and identify opportunities how your product can address those challenges. While your sales team owns this process, they should work in collaboration with the marketing team. This will help you create an ICP that hits sales targets while continuously improving and streamlining the sales process.
The marketing team may help pick some of the best leads and send them over to you. This is a great way to spot high-profile b2b clients and ensure your ICP addresses all their concerns and needs. You must also set personal filters to ensure you catch high-value leads.
In addition, you must consider how the customers will be using your product or service. Considering the challenges, each ideal customer profile faces will help you market your product accordingly.
Step #4 – Documenting the Ideal Customer Profile
Now you have gathered all the information you need and created an ICP; it is time to document it. The document must clearly outline each ICP and also list its attributes in detail. Once you have documented all the ICPs, it is time to put them to the test.
Examples of Ideal Customer Profiles in Sales
Your ICP in sales may differ in industry, but four common examples of ideal customer profiles in sales are here.
- ICP in Sales with Personal Information
You can kick start this process of ICP creation by collecting information. This includes some basic yet important details about your customers and is as follows
- Customer’s Full Name
- Customer ID
- Billing Address
- Contact info such as email landline, mobile phone number, and/or email id
- Customer’s payment history
- When did the customer last bought an item? Was it a seasonal purchase? From a discount/sales etc.
ICP in Sales Based on Customers’ Interests
You can also create an ideal customer profile based on demographics, behavior, psychographics, and other factors, including age, job role, gender, location, interests, etc. You can use all these factors to develop a strategy appealing to customers buying from you. Here is a quick template for your reference.
Your Ideal Customer
|Facing or knowing the problem||a homemaker working from home and prefers online shopping||Do not have enough time to get out and about for shopping|
|Bigger Problem||Has a basic income||On a limited budget|
|Minor issues||Poor attention span||Do not read email marketing materials|
|Willing to Pay||Only pays when offered free shipment||Is not willing to pay shipping charges|
ICP in Sales with Abilities
It is very common for your company to feel as if everyone benefits from your offerings. This may be true, but it does not literally mean it is good for everyone.
It is best for you to have an ICP in sales as it will help you prioritize your focus on people who will actually benefit from your product, promotions, and discounts. Ask yourself the following questions.
- Which customer needs your product or service?
- What is the best time to deploy for maximum benefits to the customer?
- Do you have a budget to deal with unforeseen demand?
ICP and For Abilities Chart is as follows
|Not Fit||Workable Fit||Perfect Fit|
|Need||A customer who does not acknowledge the problem your product/service solves||A customer who acknowledges a problem but do not consider a solution as a priority||A problem exists, and a customer is already searching for a solution|
|Time||Success is not achievable by your or your customer’s deadline||There is enough time just to deploy your solution without any buffer||Not only there is time to deploy your solution, but also have enough time for emergencies and unforeseen delays|
|Success||There has been no proof of success with the customer in question||The proof of success is not there, but the customer is looking for your product or service||A customer has used your product in the past or knows your product and looking to purchase one|
|Budget||A customer cannot afford your product/service and has no buffer for mistakes.||A customer who can afford your product but has no buffer for mistakes.||A customer who can afford your product/service and has room for error.|
How Salespeople use an ICP for messaging
As your company sales grow, your ICP in sales will evolve as well. This is not because your product got better, but because you have access to more data and information. By leveraging this data and experience, you will build a more comprehensive source for your sales and marketing team to entice potential clients/customers.
Creating an ICP in sales will help you craft a message appealing to the right target audience. Sale people will find ways to use new data and information and continue to refine your ideal customer profile. You can also request feedback or hold surveys to tweak your ICPs from time to time.
For instance, you can try different sales pitches when communicating with your ideal customers. Try to conduct an A/B test and identify which version of your messaging worked best for ICP in sales.
How Marketing uses an ICP in Sales
The benefit of using ICP in ales is to sharpen your focus and develop a strategy aiming to entice the most valuable customers to your company.
- Impacting Your lead Scoring
The shared characteristics you discovered while creating ICP should impact your overall lead scoring mechanism. For example, if you only target large b2b companies, you must set lead scoring parameters to be a high number of workers with a low revenue threshold.
How do you identify such companies? Your lead enrichment process will enhance and verify target accounts or lead data.
2. Targeted Ads
Use the data you collected on ideal customers to create targeted ads to entice the right audience. You must create customized messaging for the audience and place these ads on platforms based on the interest and habits of your ideal customers. This will be the most viable way to generate potent leads.
3. Account-based Marketing
Your ICP in sales and account-based marketing go hand-in-hand. The first reveals the characteristics of your best customers. The latter will offer you a highly personalized and targeted marketing campaign based on particular attributes of a client or account.
Your ideal customers’ profiling may not mind long-term pricing or higher price, especially if their background involves closing a contract for long-term services and continuing using them. Alternatively, your ICP may be a small business owner who wants to pay you monthly based on the ROI they generate each month.
An ICP in sales helps determine the depth of your customers’ pockets. This will enable your marketing team to set up a price that your best customers might be willing to pay.
You can even collaborate with other companies with similar ICP in sales as yours, but you are not a competitor to each other. You can organize events webinars and create online content together .this will ensure to each the right audience with minimum effort.
ICP vs. Buyer Persona
Both ideal customer profile and buyer persona are identical to each other hypothetically. Both offer a helping hand to your sales team to bag qualified leads while offering promising benefits from our product and service.
While buyer persona and ICP share similarities, each plays a different role in helping your sales team to target the most potent lead and address their pain points effectively.
ICP in Sales
ICP in sales refers to the hypothetical presentation of your ideal customer at an organizational level. It describes the type of businesses or customers who typically buy from you. ICP collects this information based on shared demographics, characteristics, and other data from your best customers’ shopping behavior.
ICP not only streamlines your sales processes but also improves your retention and conversion rates while saving time, money, and resources. You will have to draw on real knowledge and data to help identify customers who will reap maximum benefits from your products/service.
ICPs are quite helpful for sales representatives and marketers targeting best-fit customers. Knowing customers’ interests and pain points allows SDRs to create a message that piques customers’ interest in your solution, product, or service.
A buyer’s persona will help you take advantage of the customers’ psyche while allowing your sales reps to dive deeper into personalities, roles, and segments within your ICP. Did you know an average b2b deal requires six to ten decision-makers? Each of these decision-makers has their own challenges, pain points, goals, and demographic profiles.
When dealing with b2b sales, an ideal customer profile addresses multiple personas. These include middle managers to c-suite buyers front-line workers to an IT team. The reason why SDRs may consider the buyer’s persona is a personalized approach.
Buyers never like a generalized message. According to statistics, 72% of customers expect companies to offer personalized engagement with solutions unique to customers’ needs.
In the end, let us be real because presenting a customized sales pitch to every customer is virtually impossible. You cannot nurture each lead with customized messages and address their specific pain points.
To be impactful, you must create a well-thought persona that supports customer relevance at scale. You can define critical parameters such as the type of most effective content with each segment of customers. You can also determine channels that are most effective to reach each segment of buyers.
ICP will not only help you narrow down your customers’ search but also create customized messaging to entice their attention. Creating ICP in sales is an ongoing process where you create the best customer profile and tweak it based on your learning and performance. Follow the tips and techniques mentioned in this article to create a flawless ideal customer profile for your business.