Identifying Your Ideal Customer Profile
March 26, 2019 •Mike Rose
Welcome to Chapter 4 of Mojo’s new series for our upcoming ebook launch—Account Based Marketing: A Workbook and How-to Guide. Get an advanced copy when you sign-up for our newsletter at the end of this post.
You’ve got buy-in from your ABM leadership team to start building an ABM program, but who will be the lucky recipient of your marketing and sales efforts? Account-based marketing is a strategic marketing approach that helps you achieve business objectives and ultimately increase contract value, funnel velocity, and close rates. That doesn’t work with a spray and pray marketing methodology. Enter, the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), your Sales and Marketing vetted perfect client. This will be your target account audience for your ABM efforts, but how do you define your ideal client?
Revisit Alignment for Your Ideal Customer Profile
As with every aspect of account-based marketing, alignment is key, and it’s no different in creating your company’s Ideal Customer Profile. The ideal client profile is not a single source creation; rather, the ICP is the result of an aligned discussion with members of Sales, Marketing, and Operations culminating in the ABM leadership team’s sign-off.
Company goal alignment is a great place to start when assessing an ideal customer fit because there is always room for more customers that best help your company reach its goals. From here, the real work begins.
Start With Your Most Successful Customers
Often an ideal anything is theoretical, but with account-based marketing theory becomes reality with your ideal customer profiles. Rather than start with that theoretical ideal of the perfect client you wish would purchase your company’s product or services, it’s best to start with those already engaging with your business. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…
- Sit down with Sales and take a good hard look at your list of customers from the past year. This will give you insight on two fronts: a) a benchmark for the number of customers in a year b) a close analysis of your customers themselves.
- Define your “best customers.” How do you do this? Ideally, your best customer will reflect high spending with the company, long-term retention, collaborative relationships, and an optimistic outlook that trusts you to guide them in the right direction. Essentially, you’re almost like a part of their team and your Sales team might even have the potential to upsell.
- Create a list of common traits. Jot these commonalities down as they come up in your analysis. This way you have a paper trail to look back on when you’re assessing accounts in the next steps to determine whether or not to target them.
It can be as simple as a spreadsheet, document, or a presentation slide where you store these traits that define your ideal current customer. This is just the first step. Beyond determining which customers provide your business the most dependable revenue streams with larger contract values and collaboration unlike any other, you can’t really build a profile out of these traits alone.
Document Your Ideal Customer Profile
Remember, this isn’t just a Marketing and Sales exercise. The Ideal Customer Profile should be accessible by anyone within the organization and be presented in a format that can be directly tied back to business objectives. Therefore, when compiling your ICP, you will want to note the following traits for each account:
These are the company-specific traits that relate directly to the business rather than the individual. Be sure to include:
- Company Size: How many people work there?
- Company Revenue: How much does the company make on average annually?
- Geographic Location: Where are their headquarters and branch locations?
- Relevant Products: What do they sell?
- Industry: Where do they sell?
- Negative Considerations: What roadblocks might you encounter along the way?
- Budget: How much can they spend on your business’s ABM services?
Additionally, you may want to include the technology your ideal customer will have in their tech stack or what they will be open to incorporating to ensure you can realistically help them achieve their own business goals. Be sure to note:
- Current tech programs: What are they using now?
- Future tech investments: What should they use in the future?
- Capacity for tech maintenance: Can they actively maintain their current product suite?
Traditionally an Inbound Marketing element, buyer personas can help your business marketing initiatives speak to the individuals within the accounts, because while Sales will close accounts, they will still engage with individuals within those accounts. Therefore, understanding the mindset of the key decision makers at the accounts is critical for ABM success, and aligns with the idea that ABM and Inbound can and should run in tandem to create a comprehensive business marketing suite.
Some key points to include in your buyer personas include:
- Location: Where does this buyer reside?
- Age: How old are they and how does that influence their decision-making?
- News Source: Where do they get their information and what outlets do they trust (where can you reach them?)
- Income: How much do they make, and how will this affect their decisions?
- Pain Points: What do they struggle with at their company and how can you help them resolve their current issues?
- Goals: What do they want to achieve at their company?
- Objections to Purchase: Why would they say “no” to doing business with you?
The negative points are also worth considering at both account and decision-maker level, because when you are aware of what will make them turn down your business proposal, you are better suited to encourage them to accept your partnership.
Additionally, segmentation is not just for your target account list, as we’ll discuss in the next chapter. Tiers are also beneficial within the Ideal Customer Profile. Generally, three tiers is a good rule of thumb to help prioritize who to target. These tiers will be based on firmographics and can relate to things like revenue, company size, industry, and geography. By tiering priority Ideal Customer Profiles now, you will have better direction when building target account lists in the next step and be able to better prioritize marketing and sales efforts based on those tiers.
Your ICP Directly Influences Your Target Account List
After Sales, Marketing, and Operations have collaborated to create the proposed Ideal Customer Profile, the next step is to take it to the ABM leadership team. They will then provide their input as to the accuracy of the profile, look at your evidence, and either approve or provide feedback to help further focus what truly defines an ideal client. Once their buy-in is secured, you will move onto building out your target account list.
Without the Ideal Customer Profile, the next step in the ABM process is virtually impossible. Remember account-based marketing is a strategic marketing program that doesn’t spray and pray. It starts with an intense focus on a target group built out from the Ideal Customer Profile, then expands within those target accounts to reach key decision makers and engage them. This is where your skills and capacity for manual list build-out and predictive tool management will come into play, but more about those in the chapters to come.
Just remember, everything starts from the Ideal Customer Profile, so build your list carefully. And in the end, account-based marketing is an iterative process so as your business evolves, so too will your Ideal Customer Profile.
What's Next? In Chapter 5...
With your ICP in tow, you'll dive into your accounts to select who to target and how you'll get them engaging with your business. Not sure if you're ready for ABM yet? See if ABM is a good fit for your company and evaluate if you're ready to get started in Chapter 2: Are You Ready for Account-Based Marketing?
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