One of the biggest challenges that businesses make with sales is not reaching the right audience; this leads to scheduling sales meetings with prospects that are unlikely to convert into customers. More often than not, this is because they don’t create an ideal client profile before they start their sales development and marketing efforts.
When you define your ideal customers before putting in the business growth work, you learn more about your target audience, allowing you to cater your sales and marketing strategy to the wants, needs, and pain points of prospective clients. However, there are some ways of defining your ideal customers that are more effective for revenue growth than others.
In this blog, we’ll cover the following topics:
What Is an Ideal Client Profile?
An ideal client profile (ICP) is the concept of identifying the types of businesses and decision-makers you want to engage with through your sales and marketing efforts.
An ideal client profile (also known as an ideal customer profile) includes defining a prospect’s characteristics, demographics, and purchasing behaviors to reach potential clients and ideally convert them into customers. However, an ICP should also include sales lead qualifying information, such as their:
- Industry served
- Amount of yearly revenue generated
- Number of full-time employees
We’ll expand more on these ICP components later.
Ideal Client Profile vs. Buyer Personas: What’s the Difference?
ICPs and buyer personas are both needed to reach the types of customers you want for your business; however, they have some notable differences when it comes to their level of focus.
As we mentioned above, an ICP is the process of identifying your ideal customers so sales development representatives (SDRs) and marketing specialists can craft their business growth approach around the most qualified leads and generate the best opportunities for your sales or account executive team.
On the other hand, buyer personas are a data-supported, non-fictional representation of your ideal customers. While your company may have a single yet broad target market, there are multiple buyer personas that live within your audience. Creating buyer personas for your target market gives you a better understanding of what a potential customer’s buying behavior, motivations, and goals are, empowering your SDR and marketing teams to create more targeted campaigns.
Why Is Identifying an Ideal Client Profile Important?
When you identify your ideal client profile, your business can:
Create Better Sales and Marketing Campaigns
Companies that define their ICPs are much more likely to create better sales and marketing campaigns. This is because SDR and marketing teams are focused on crafting specific pitches and creative materials that align with their ICP rather than a more general audience. When you create better sales and marketing campaigns using your ICP as the foundation, you can make better content that resonates more with the prospects and their wants, needs, and pain points.
Improve Customer Service
Defining your ideal customers gives you the opportunity to improve customer service and your product or service offerings. Since identifying an ICP includes learning about a prospect’s pain points, you can use this data and apply it to your everyday core business functions. This allows you to meet the needs of your prospects, give them a valuable solution, and facilitate stronger relationships.
Accelerate Conversion Rates
When you create and implement an ICP into your sales and marketing functions, you have the ability to accelerate conversion rates and reduce a prospect’s time spent in the sales cycle. This is because with the data you’ve gathered from your ICP analysis, you can use this information and apply it directly to your materials, empowering prospects to trust your business.
Retain More Customers
As you learn and assess the needs of your ICP, you have the chance to retain more customers. While customer overturn is always going to occur, identifying your ICP enables your account management team to learn what clients may like and dislike about your business. When they express their insights about your business model, this allows you to make adjustments to your approach to gain more clients and get more repeatable business.
Target Specific Leads
One of the biggest challenges businesses have with their lead generation efforts is not sending the right materials to the right leads. Or even worse, sending generalized content that’s so broad that it doesn’t resonate with anyone. Crafting an ICP empowers your sales and marketing teams to better segment leads based on their industry, geographic location, pain points, and more. Targeting specific leads by these components enables them to feel like the content presented to them was made specifically for them rather than a mass email sent to a wide list of prospects.
Information You Should Include in Your Ideal Client Profile Template
A Decision-Maker’s Professional Profile
While you may be trying to sell to a business, remember that you’re selling to people first. Consider who the decision-maker is and why they would be the best person to talk to regarding your company’s product or service offering.
To better understand your target customer and define your ICP, think about:
- The person’s role
- The skills required to do their job
- Their daily tasks and responsibilities
- How their performance is measured
- Who they directly (and indirectly) report to
When you understand these aspects of a decision-maker’s professional profile, you’ll be able to see where they need extra support to make their everyday jobs easier. This empowers you to create a better product or service and make sales and marketing messaging more targeted.
A Decision-Maker’s Most Common Pain Points
Once you have an understanding of a decision-maker’s position within the prospective business and what their typical duties look like, think about the pain points that come with their role. When you have a firm grasp of what problems they might encounter, you can use this information to connect with the decision-maker and figure out what could be done to make their everyday responsibilities easier.
For example, let’s consider small to medium-sized businesses that often have a one-person marketing department. With all the different specialized areas of marketing there are in the world, it’s nearly impossible for one person to do it all effectively for the outcome they want.
When we pitch small to medium-sized businesses our inbound lead generation solution, we take these pain points and use them in favor of one-person marketing departments. Since we understand the complexity of digital marketing and how it requires a team of specialized individuals, we know how hard it can be to manage every aspect of digital marketing. This is why we provide small to medium-sized businesses an inbound marketing solution and full team for the price of a single marketing person. While we don’t want to take over their role, we want to act as an extension of their business with complete transparency into their marketing program so they can use their online profiles as additional lead generators.
This may be an example of our process and approach to our business, but the same concept can be built around businesses in any industry. When you use pain points as a core driver of your ideal customer profiles, this gives your sales and marketing teams better insights about your target market, engaging more prospects in the sales pipeline.
A Decision-Maker’s Personal Characteristics
Another piece of information you should include in your ICP should be a decision-maker’s personal characteristics: do they want to be talked to in a friendly or formal tone? How do they want to be approached when it comes to sales and marketing efforts?
Understanding a decision-maker’s personal characteristics for your ICP can help you build out their buyer personas, allowing you to further narrow down your content focus to achieve more success. Additionally, when you consider a decision-maker’s personal characteristics, you can mirror them and make them feel more comfortable learning about what your company has to offer. The more comfortable they feel with your business, the more likely they are to believe in the value your company has to offer them.
The Decision-Maker’s Company Information
And last but not least, while you may want to have a people-first approach with your ICP, it’s equally as important to consider the prospect’s company information to make sure they meet your product and service needs as well.
As you look into company information, consider their number of employees, geographical location, yearly revenue generated, purchasing process, and whether they outsource services or keep it all in-house. When you understand these components of the business, you have greater insight into the likelihood of them closing business with your company.
For example, if you want to target small to medium-sized businesses, they’re more likely to outsource a lot of their business functions because it’s more cost effective than if they were to hire someone full-time. Therefore, they’d be more open to chatting about outsourcing with your company. However, if you want to target larger enterprises, they may be less likely to sign on with your business because they have the resources to handle it all in-house, unless your product or service offering provides something unique that they’ve never heard of before.
Tips to Help You Define Your Ideal Client Profile
An ICP shouldn’t be made up out of thin air. It should be relevant to your business model and make sense to your current everyday operations. If you need help defining your ICP, do the following:
Start With Your Current Book of Business
ZoomInfo is a great database for helping SDR teams cleanse prospects in the sales pipeline. This software helps SDRs clearly define who a prospective business’s decision-maker is and their direct contact information, such as their phone numbers and email addresses. This allows SDRs to reduce their overall research time, so they spend less time prospecting and more time pitching more qualified leads.
Gather Your Own Customer Insights
While you can gather all the data you want from CRMs, the most impactful way to learn about your customers is by talking with them one-on-one. Asking questions about their wants, needs, and interests regarding your product or service is essential for determining what prospects are looking for in a provider, accelerating your sales development and marketing efforts.
Collecting and analyzing these responses allows you to see the similarities and differences between different customers, helping you further define your ICP. If some of your most loyal and high paying clients answer questions similarly, this allows you to make more sales pitches and content marketing materials that align with their responses, resulting in higher quality leads.
Consider Your Short- and Long-Term Goals
What does the typical buying cycle look like for your prospects in the pipeline? How quickly are you looking to generate new sales opportunities? Understanding your short- and long-term goals is essential for ICP development because it helps you decide what type of lead generation approach would be best for your business.
If you want to generate leads quickly, a search engine marketing (SEM) strategy would be best. However, it’s important to remember that these leads may not be as high of quality as you want. On the other hand, if you’re willing to put a lot of thought and strategy behind your approach, a streamlined approach of outbound sales development and inbound marketing would be best so you can reach the different buyer personas of your target audience.
Biggest Mistakes Companies Make When Creating a Client Profile
Every company is bound to make mistakes when first creating their client profiles. However, there are some mistakes that you can avoid before you put all the hard work into building and implementing your lead generation solution.
A few of the biggest mistakes companies make when creating a client profile include:
Casting Too Wide of a Net
When you cast too wide of a net with your ICP, you miss the mark on the purpose of the profile in the first place. An ICP is designed to help you get the best sales opportunities possible. Therefore, if you’re not specific enough with your profiles, you risk not capturing the interest of your target audience.
Making It Too Hyper-Focused
While you don’t want to make the content too general, you also don’t want to make it too specific. An ICP that’s too hyper-focused risks not reaching the right target. When sales and marketing content is too focused on a single niche, you limit the possibilities with other interested and qualified prospects. Additionally, you risk over personalizing content, which could shy the prospect away from ever doing business with your company.
Spending Too Much of Their Budget on Market Research
Creating an ICP is incredibly beneficial to your sales and marketing efforts; however, it’s not always cost-effective. While you can gather a lot of information from your CRM and talking with current customers, you get the most benefit and insights from your ICP through various sales tools and technologies. If you don’t have the marketing budget to perform extensive market research of your target audience, it may be worth reaching out to an outsourced sales and marketing firm to help you develop your ICP and explore the best lead generation solution for prospective clients.
Not Keeping Track of Lead Sources
Keeping track of lead sources is essential for maintaining your prospect list. As we touched on earlier, leads and prospects can come into the sales pipeline through a variety of sources: referrals, online searches, inbound marketing, sales prospecting software, etc. When you keep track of lead sources, you can learn how they entered the pipeline in the first place, gaining more insight into their buying habits.
For example, if an SDR aims to contact a lead that’s in the sales pipeline because of a referral, they can use this to their advantage and start the conversation about their mutual connection. On the other hand, if an inbound lead comes in through the website, you could probably assume that they’re more likely to connect via email than a phone call, making email marketing the best way to reach out to them.
With these types of insights, your SDR teams can take the best approach to connecting with prospects, increasing the likelihood of them agreeing to a sales appointment and converting them from a prospect into a customer.
Creating an ideal client profile is vital for building a sales development and marketing strategy that yields sustainable growth. While it may set your sales team up for success, it requires extensive research of your current book of business to find commonalities between customers, and learn how they liked to be approached regarding sales and marketing materials.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we collaborate with small to medium-sized businesses across the nation to help them define their ideal customers and implement a business growth solution that produces the most impact. When you’re ready to reach your target customer for long-term growth, contact the lead generation experts at Abstrakt!
Get In Touch