When starting a B2B company, you set goals and decide exactly what pain point your product or service solves. You decide who your ideal market is and maybe even create a buyer persona to help you know who it is you’re targeting. An important step often overlooked is taking the time to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) for your B2B company.
In this blog, we will look over what an ideal customer profile is, why you should have one, how to create one and how to best utilize the one you create.
What Is An Ideal Customer Profile?
According to HubSpot, an ideal customer profile is “a checklist of the most basic attributes someone needs to have to be successful as your customer.” In other words, it’s the attributes agreed upon by marketing and sales that deems a lead as qualified or unqualified.
When you take the time to create an B2B Ideal Customer Profile, you will be able to target the right people better and generate more qualified leads. It also will help to end the tension between your marketing and sales teams as they will work together to agree on what attributes actually qualify a lead.
Now if you’re thinking buyer persona’s and B2B Ideal Customer Profile’s are the same, you might want to think again. A buyer persona is a fictional person you create describing their interactions, personality, income, demographics, etc..
An ICP is what should help you build your buyer persona by describing who would find your product/service most helpful. Your B2B Ideal Customer Profile is what enables you to qualify leads. Buyer personas help you determine messaging and content creation to attract, convert and close prospects. Learn more about buyer persona’s and how to create those in this helpful article.
Why Have an Ideal Customer Profile?
By narrowing down who it is that you want, which we’ll guide you through next, you’re able to better utilize your marketing and sales budgeted time and resources by focusing on high-quality leads as well as meet your goals consistently.
Additionally, having an B2B Ideal Customer Profile helps align your marketing and sales teams. By agreeing on what is deemed a qualified lead, the marketing team can better review and analyze where they are getting these qualified leads.
Often what occurs is your marketing team sends unqualified leads to your sales team, which frustrates the sales team. Ultimately, the sales teams stop contacting leads that are being sent from the marketing team. Once this happens, your investment dollars in marketing are being wasted. This is all due to unalignment on the definition of a qualified lead.
For example, marketing could be sending 100 leads a month to sales. Marketing is thinking they are great, but the sales team may say that marketing never sends qualified leads. This could be true, however, you need to take the time to align with marketing to deem the questions marketing could ask to determine leads as qualified or unqualified. Once those attributes are identified, marketing can update their forms to ensure they only send qualified leads to the sales team and withhold the unqualified leads.
By taking the time to align your marketing and sales teams with agreed upon qualifying attributes, you not only will see positive revenue results but also a great sense of commodore between sales and marketing, ending the century-long feud between teams.
How Do I Create an Ideal Customer Profile?
The most important thing with creating your B2B Ideal Customer Profile is to make sure that this is a meeting or conversation with BOTH your marketing and sales teams. You can't create this profile without both teams present.
First, take the time to describe who your ideal customer is. This is who will find your product or service most helpful and what they can offer you in return (repeat business, consecutive business, client referrals, etc.).
Then, interview some of your most successful customers. Ask them questions about what it was that made your product/service so helpful to them. Identify what characteristics and attributes they have that seemed most satisfied by your product/service.
Lastly, write out a list answering these questions based on who it is you’re targeting.
- What is their industry?
- What is the size of their business?
- What is their budget?
- What influences their decisions? Do they have to talk to the CEO to get permission for things? Do they need referrals from other customers’ first?
- What are their pain points as a business?
- What is their main business objective?
As you discuss these questions, rely as much as possible on any data you have. This is especially important if marketing and sales don’t work well together. “Aligned to Achieve” makes a strong argument for this.
“When we rely on data, we can turn it into a fact-based conversation. We can both see exactly what's happening. Data takes the emotion out of it. It keeps you from getting defensive, especially if you approach it [by saying], ‘Let's both sit down and look at the data.’ It also helps you figure out what the true issues are and points you in the right direction to fix them.”
For example, digitalJ2 is a digital growth (marketing & sales solution) agency that uses HubSpot software to help other companies grow in revenue. Our ICP is United States-based companies that have at least 1 marketing professional and 3 sales reps with annual revenue of $5+ million.
By then listing out the characteristics and attributes of the business’ we’re imagining and answering the above list of questions, we can narrow down our exact B2B Ideal Customer Profile. Then from there, we build a buyer persona around the marketing professional we’re targeting to see how we can best reach them.
Taking the time to write out and really narrow down who your ideal customer profile will help you better target qualified leads. You also will be able to note what patterns you see from your customers; maybe you solve more than one pain point that you hadn’t realized before.
This can then be used to target leads differently, offering more than one solution to their business, adding value to your name and services.
Lastly, it also helps you align your goals with theirs. When first beginning a company, you set goals for what you want out of the business. But when you set those goals without taking the time to get an idea of what your customers' goals are and what they want and need from a business, you begin missing opportunities. So make sure to figure out what their goals are and how they align with yours to best reach your ideal customer.
All in all, taking the time to really figure out who your ideal customer is, what their goals are and how you can help solve their pain points will help your company a ton.
From targeting qualified leads to aligning your marketing and sales teams, by taking the time to write your B2B Ideal Customer Profile and then reviewing it regularly and adjusting it as needed with pivots, you will be able to grow as a company in revenue and success.