The most important part of account-based marketing (ABM) is, of course, targeting the right accounts. The first step to identifying the right account is finding out who your ideal customer profile (ICP) is. Without this, then ABM won't be nearly as efficient or effective as it should be.
Ideal Customer Profile
You might be asking yourself what an ideal customer profile is. Simply put, it is the quantitative and qualitative parameters used to identify the customer that is the most likely to result in a meaningful engagement for your company. A meaningful engagement is not just profitable for your agency, but a culture fit too. Just like in recruiting talent, we look for fit first. A fit to our core values, then we identify if they have the skills for the role. I think of client fit the same way. If a prospect meets all the quantitative requirements, but will wreak havoc on the Success Team; does this prospect meet the qualitative requirements? Therefore, Marketing, Sales and Success must be aligned.
Let’s take a look at what parameters are used to define your ICP.
Firmographics are the physical attributes used to define organizations and are the first step in building your ICP. Most of the time, companies will use factors like company size, revenue and years in market to help define their ICP, but these do not have to be the only parameters you use. Here are just some of the firmographics you should consider:
- Company size or number of employees
- Revenue or revenue opportunity
- Average contract value
- Internal departments
However, use the values that are important to you, and meet the demands of your organization and product. Just make sure the organization is aligned. An HR management firm will likely care more about employee count, or even employees per manager, more than revenue. A manufacturing supply firm may want to add in delivery site locations, or adjust locations further and look at time to delivery because they’ve found customer satisfaction is higher if they can do same or 2 days delivery on goods.
This category defines the technology requirements for your ideal accounts. For us that means that if a prospect already uses Hubspot as their CRM or marketing automation tool, then they are a good fit for us. If they are not using HubSpot, or any other marketing automation platform, then they have to be willing to change, be open to new ideas and accept that the digital landscape is evolving and they need to make an investment with their eyes wide open across all departments. Once again this must be unique to your industry and even preferences.
Make sure you look at the factors that can’t be summed up in values. This is best accomplished human to human (sales). Not everything can be automated. We recommend looking at qualitative parameters that will help ensure that the company culture you have cultivated meshes well with your eventual customers. We’ve found these are some great questions to get your qualitative parameters:
- What is their company culture and how does that mesh with yours?
- What drives them and how is this important to you?
- What general organizational behaviors does your organization work well with?
- Where do they fall on the spectrum of risk vs innovation?
You eventually need to find what works best for your organization. A company who doesn’t have a culture that fits yours can lead to lower employee engagement at your organization, or a lower profit margin, especially in service-based industries.
Demographics and Buyer Personas
Inbound marketing focuses on building out your buyer personas to tailor content to their needs by answering their pain points with your company’s remarkables. See my blog, Does Inbound Marketing Have a Flaw? A great inbound marketer will build and have a process for continuous improvement of each buyer persona. However, I feel the ICP gets somewhat overlooked in the inbound world. It’s the real difference between lead-based marketing and account-based marketing. Mojo’s messaging process is to start with the ICP (firmographics) then identify the buyer persona (demographics). Let’s not forget the difference between an ICP and a sales channel too, but that’s another topic. Now that you’ve identified what parameters are needed to examine organizations fit into your ICP, it is time to start looking at the individuals and the demographics that need your product.
An important part of inbound marketing and account-based marketing is your buyer persona. It determines who your product or service resonates with by meeting their pain points. It is also an important part of targeting accounts in ABM, particularly at the engagement and expansion phase of the ABM funnel. It’s about getting the right message in front of the right persona at the right time.
Identifying your buyer persona illuminates their pain points and how your organization’s remarkables meet and answer those pain points. You must match what sets you apart and what you offer to solve their pain
The Roles in the Decision-Making Process
Every decision in the sales process is filled with different roles, and it is important to understand how they differ and how it will impact your content. These roles were defined by Sangram Vajre (@sangramvajre) in his book, Account-Based Marketing for Dummies:
- Stakeholders – These are your end users, why are they going to like your product, why do they need your product?
- Champion – These are your power users. They don’t just use your product, they love it. Apple’s champions are the people that sit outside an Apple store to get the newest iPhone the second it comes out.
- Decision-maker – Organizations are using more decision makers than ever when making purchase decisions. It is important to know if you are talking to decision makers, and know how you influence them.
- Power Sponsor – These are likely your point of contact, they are the ones that bring your offer and present it to the organizations decision makers. They need to be enabled to sell your product internally.
When you understand and identify these roles in an organization you’ll have a better idea on how to reach them. In ABM, roles are not titles!
Companies and their employees each have their own archetypes, an individual’s is based on who they are, and a company’s is built through their culture and values. Archetypes gives you a psychological basis for how your prospective contacts think, and how you need to solve their unique pain. There are many ways to identify archetypes, we like to use the three Ways from ROE powers ROI, the Return on Energy Methodology. Defining a good archetype is one of the most powerful content elements you can prepare for.
Using these archetypes, you can identify whether your prospect is focused on the vision of their company, the strategy, or the execution that is independent of their role in the decision-making process. Each have very important needs that vastly differ from one another. It is essential for an archetype to be rooted in their personality and skills, and is inherent in who they are.
Finding Your Accounts
Now that you’ve chosen your parameters it’s time to find and score your accounts.
The first step is of course finding new accounts and identifying existing accounts (wherever they fall in your buyer’s journey) that should be scored. There are many ways to do this:
- Sales targeted accounts – Utilize your sales team that has already identified important accounts, whether they are existing customers you would like to grow, or prospects. As this is sourced by first-party data, it will have a high value to your ABM build out.
- Utilize technology and research to find the new accounts – Third-party data is expensive, yet can be very useful when building your list.
- Partner or shared lists – Second-party data is incredibly valuable, and working with a partner that allows for sharing of lists back and forth can be mutually beneficial, especially when targeting highly relevant content through ABM.
- Using predictive tools – Scan your existing customer list (house accounts) and qualified leads with a tool like Mintigo to build a model for line of sight to similar accounts.
Once you have a list of accounts it is time to see how well your accounts and prospective accounts fit into your ideal customer profile and identify where your ABM resources should be spent.
Scoring Your Accounts
Take the important firmographics and demographics you identified as part of your ICP and buyer personas and weight each one based on importance to determine your account score.
You might be familiar with scoring your buyer personas, this is often called a lead score, and it gives you insight into how well each contact fits into one of your buyer personas and how engaged they are. You can score these based-on role, responsibilities, pain points and more.
- Revenue – This was chosen as the most important stat (won’t always be the case), so it contributes more to account score than any other parameter. Accounts with <$100 million in revenue are worth 0 points, $101-250 million 3 points, $251-500 million 6 points, and $500+ 9 points.
- Location – Less important, but needs to be in the USA. For a Chicago based company it may look like, outside USA 0 points, outside the Midwest 1 point, Midwest 3 points, Illinois 5 points.
- Culture – This may be a more of a yes or no. It can be as simple as risk averse is worth 0 points, but innovative is worth 5.
Now that you have scored your accounts you can begin grouping or putting your accounts into a tiered list. For example, Tier A is >$1B, Tier B is $500M - $1B and Tier C is <$500M, you can tier three difference ACV (average contract values).
Your scored list of accounts will be matched against your ICP, and will give you a blueprint for success with account-based marketing. These are your ideal clients that have been identified in a quantifiable and repeatable method, defined by your organization, services and culture. Keep in mind that the account score is the sum of the individual buyer persona scores (lead scores) using the same company domain (account) and the account score itself. We have built sophisticated workflows in HubSpot as a solution to not having account-based scoring.
The Bottom Line
Identifying your ICP is essential to making sure your account-based marketing endeavors generate the most revenue with the highest potential accounts. Once you have this framework it will define the rest of your ABM build out, and once you are in market you will be presenting highly relevant content to the right accounts for your products and services, vastly increasing the effectiveness of your business development efforts over traditional outbound marketing.
Ready to get started with Account Based Marketing?
Want to learn a bit more about ABM before taking that next step with us? Check out our Complete Beginner's Guide to Account Based Marketing here!