how to build the ideal customer profile and provide an ideal scenario for the sales team – WAU

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) refers to the profile of customers who have the ideal situation and characteristics to be satisfactorily served by the company’s solution. It represents a profile that fits into an account, not just a buyer, a decision maker for a company’s acquisitions, or an end user.

Every customer should be treated with the same quality, right? Certainly, but only after they are converted. Before, those considered as Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) may have priority in the attention of the sales team.

I explain why: the generation of leads, as we call potential customers, is, more and more, automated and benefited by solutions that help in their qualification.

Companies, therefore, are creating larger lists of qualified leads, which, in different degrees, are more or less aligned with the differentials of their products and business values.

So, why not “choose” to work first on those you would like to serve and who would offer the greatest chance of success?

This is a way of looking at the use of ICP, because, in addition to identifying opportunities that require less sales effort, allows you to assess which of them are most likely to be loyal for meeting your needs.

It is like seeing that the river is for fish, but there are some of them wanting to jump into the boat without even having a bait to attract them. It is the perfect feat between the company’s product or service with the customer and their needs and acquisition potential.

The question that probably arises next is: can my business find better opportunities among the leads generated?

The answer is yes and in this content I will show you the way to find the ideal customer profile and how you can use it in your marketing and sales strategies.

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What is ICP?

The acronym for Ideal Customer Profile is used to name the profile of customers who present the ideal situation and characteristics to be satisfactorily served by the company’s solution.

It is a profile that fits into an account, not just a buyer, a decision maker for a company’s acquisitions or an end user.

In fact, ICP is a tool widely used by companies that use Account-Based Marketing (ABM), or account-based marketing. In it, the acquisition of new customers is based on specific and well-targeted groups that can be brought together in a common account.

In other words, the company and its commercial teams can be divided into different segments, increasing the level of knowledge in each of them.

The concept of ICP seems similar to that of buyer persona or that of target audience, doesn’t it? So let’s understand what are the differences between them with the help of some concepts and examples.

What are the differences between ICP, persona, buyer persona and target audience?

There are many terms that, in the end, refer to the same thing: the customers of a company. The difference is in the way these concepts are used, and, of course, in the accuracy of your data. Let’s look at each of them.

Target Audience

It is a more macro perception of who or what type of company your business wants to conquer, but without great details to direct the strategy.

That is, it is a segment of potential customers identified from behavioral, demographic and socioeconomic information compatible with the products or services of the business.

A company that sells student management software at a gym, for example, can determine its target audience as follows: gyms or sports centers with 500 or more students located in the southeast region, with monthly revenues greater than R $ 100 thousand.

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

ICP has a more focused focus on sales and, with its information that complements that brought by the target audience, it allows communications and approaches to be more aligned with the needs and reality of the leads.

In this case, the same company could define its ICP as follows: crossfit academies in Belo Horizonte, aimed at the female audience, with 500 students or more, monthly revenue of R $ 100 thousand and potential to become franchise chains.

Note that, in addition to the information that already existed about the target audience, ICP brings complementary data that help to personalize the approaches, such as:

  • adopted segmentation;
  • business structure or capacity;
  • market performance;
  • market maturity.

Making a commercial contact with such data allows you to work on the lead’s pains and needs with much more ownership and certainty of the connection with the solutions that the company has to offer.

Also, talking to who can make the decision is very important. This is part of the ICP definition, which considers:

  • who is the decision maker;
  • what is your position and the relationship with your academic background, for example, a doctor responsible for a clinic or hospital;
  • what is the company’s segment,
  • technologies, social networks and systems used by the lead, both the company and the decision maker;
  • participation in sector events;
  • number of subordinates;
  • working time in the organization;
  • among other issues.

Persona

The persona is a semi-expert representation of a company’s customers. Therefore, it uses as much statistical data from its base as elements that would improve its perception in relation to the company’s product and its differentials.

It has a greater focus on marketing actions. In other words, while the ICP allows the company to identify who it wants to talk to, the persona helps to build content and arguments more suited to it.

Thus, the persona appears at the moment when the company needs to know how to position itself and relate to its audience, and this goes for any stage of the customer’s journey, whether it is getting to know the organization or after sales.

Buyer Persona (BP)

And the buyer persona? She is the representative of the ideal buyer, which, for comparison, looks a lot like ICP, right?

The difference, however, is in the way these two references are formed and how they are used. ICP is used as a filter in lead generation, that is, to help find the best sales opportunities at the beginning of the sales funnel.

The buyer persona is the result of the statistical and behavioral study of the company’s buyers who have already been satisfied and loyal. Based on this parameter, BP is used to personalize approaches, services, channels and content at different stages of the customer’s journey.

Thus, in addition to the information from the ICP, the buyer persona can be complemented with data from satisfaction surveys of current customers, analysis of their behaviors and consumption statistics, in addition to the history of how they were converted and the commercial strategies that were used to do so.

Assessing their concepts and applications, it is clear that they all contribute to a common purpose: to optimize the sales cycle. It is also clear that ICP and persona, together, are the most efficient team to capture and filter sales opportunities, right?

But, if marketing actions usually come before sales, why does ICP come before defining the persona?

This is what you will understand next.

Why create an ICP before the persona?

The persona is an extraction from ICP, which, in turn, should be considered as a guide to be followed in Content Marketing strategies that will optimize the acquisition of new customers.

In other words, the most specific data identified from the Ideal Customer Profile will be the parameters for creating the persona.

Thus, when describing it, the points that determine the ICP will be in its composition and will allow the contents and actions created from the persona to be more personalized and realistic.

How important is ICP for sales and business success?

So, let’s summarize this far: the target audience is the segment of the segment where potential customers are gathered. ICP and Buyer Persona filter this information to improve the focus of the business, and while the first indicates who to look for, the second points out how to do this efficiently.

The persona, in turn, is a marketing tool that precedes sales actions and uses ICP as a reference to create a content funnel capable of filtering and qualifying leads, right?

So does ICP’s functionality and importance come down to justifying the creation of the persona? Of course not, and here I list your most relevant contributions.

Efficiency of the sales approach

Let’s be honest: it is much easier to talk to someone you already know and who has pains, demands, weaknesses and routines that you are familiar with, and convince him, than negotiate with another that even demonstrates some compatibility with the product, but it is a commercial unknown.

Using ICP, you and your company can approach the leads whose needs will be satisfied by your product, thus generating a value relationship.

It is as if the offer is designed for that customer profile, which makes it much easier to target the approach. Since each salesperson’s time is finite and it is not possible to embrace the world, it makes perfect sense to talk to the leads who are most likely to convert.

Reduced sales cycle

The Ideal Customer Profile allows the sales team to be more certain about the leads that must be approached within the base that was created.

All language and arguments are aimed at those who are most compatible with the offer.

By comparing each lead with the ICP, the company can assess whether the characteristics and the situation presented are similar to the ideal profile drawn, which would increase the likelihood of conversion.

In addition, as the ICP also brings the call to the decision maker, the time to find out who is responsible and negotiate with him is much less.

Conversion rate increase

If you know who you want to talk to, what to say and how to show that your solution will add value to the lead, the chances of conversion are much greater.

And, in addition, if the sales cycle is shortened, the sales team can also improve its approach performance by spending less time on each negotiation.

It is very important to stress that agility here is based on efficiency – not on the lack of attention to detail – and on customer satisfaction.

Lifetime Value Optimization (LTV)

Another natural consequence of using ICP is the conversion of more customers who will be satisfied with the products and services offered.

That is, after successful conversion, all stages of execution and relationship will be facilitated and customers will have satisfying experiences and see themselves engaged with the company and its products.

The LTV, an indicator that tracks the period in which customers remain commercially active, will also be extended, which, incidentally, will also move other performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Churn: that tracks the number of cancellations or returns, will reduce;
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): which measures the value of the customer over time, will also be optimized, since the costs invested to achieve it will be diluted for a longer period, increasing the profit generated;
  • Return On Investiment (ROI), which points out the relationship between the amount invested to win the customer and how much he has earned for the business, will also be improved, as commercial efficiency will also be enhanced.

In short, the best way to summarize the importance of ICP is to say that it increases commercial efficiency right at the beginning of the process, at the capture stage, and, as a chain reaction, it optimizes the later stages of the sales journey and the relationship .

How to create an ICP?

These benefits are unquestionable and you would certainly like to bring them into your business, right?

So, here I list some tips and good practices with great results in the creation of your company’s ICP.

Get the most relevant information about the lead

Identify what is the minimum necessary lead information for the sales team to work on, which includes the name of the decision maker and your contact email.

Besides that, knowing relevant questions about the timing of the lead is also important to provide a good basis for the conversation.

To do this, reflect on the following:

  • Is that contact someone relevant within the structure of the potential customer? What sets it apart?
  • What information obtained fills the eyes and facilitates the actions of those who are prospecting?
  • Is the lead a decision maker? What is your profile or position? What are the chances it offers to close the sale?

Map lead pains and needs

Survey the pain and dilemmas experienced by the lead before taking the first approach. Thus, it is possible to prepare the arguments to circumvent any objections that may arise.

It is common in the market for people to follow a certain type of behavior in relation to the solution that your company provides, even saying that it does not need that or that the product or service is not compatible with the budget it has, even before starting a negotiation .

Find out what is the ideal customer profile of your business

After understanding the profile of the ideal client, it is important to do the reverse exercise, that is, to point out certain characteristics that could harm the results.

Such references will not exclude a lead, but will serve to guide the sales team in identifying opportunities with low return and high negotiation complexity, which, at that moment, will only make the team waste time.

It is possible, for example, to raise what are the objections and characteristics that show that the commercial relationship will not go ahead, ensuring that the attention of the sales team is directed to the best opportunities.

Still, it is important to assess what the lead’s pains are and find explanations for the fact that he was unable to solve them at that moment.

Offering content to educate you about future improvements can keep that opportunity on the radar, allowing it to be worked out further.

By the way, nurturing potential customers are among the main objectives of Content Marketing strategies, according to 40.5% of companies informed in the Content Trends 2018 survey, did you know?

Use business performance indicators as a reference

The customer base is an important source of information for the definition of the ICP and, mainly, the performance indicators.

Survey which customers have the best LTV and make a study deepening their characteristics basic and specific is a good way to rationalize the process, that is, to stop assuming, and rather, to define through data.

It is in the customer base that real data of values, length of stay of the customer, profile with better exploitation, sales and margins will be found for the definition of ICP. But, what if such data does not yet exist?

It is a situation that can happen with companies that are starting their operations, entering a completely different market or that have never followed their performance in a systemic way.

How to identify the Ideal Customer Profile of a company that does not yet have customers?

Without more specific data to be used in the formation of the ICP, the company can use the information of its target audience and some inferences to create a prototype of the Ideal Customer Profile.

Once it is put into motion, being the main gear of both the sales team and the marketing team, it can be corrected gradually.

By the way, an ICP will never be perfect and I recommend that it is always updated when sales conversions are not as expected.

The more detailed the description of the ideal customer profile, the more efficient it will be to capture leads with greater potential for conversion and loyalty. It is the translation of the maxim that quality is better than quantity in attracting new business.

So I have a great offer for you and your company: a free process for defining the ICP of your business, which is valid both for those who already have data and indicators, as well as those who need to start from scratch.

So, go to Your Ideal Client website right now and set your ICP!

ICP