Sales Strategy: 6 Steps to Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile

October 16, 2011 at 7:00 AM

sales strategy ideal customer profileNearly impossible to have a winning sales strategy if you don’t know what the Ideal Customer Profile looks like.  Sounds so simple, but so many organizations struggle to clearly articulate and document what their Ideal Customer Profile is.  Why’s this so important:

  1. How do you know where your sales “sweet-spot” is?
  2. How can you “point” your marketing dollars at the right targets if you don’t know what target to shoot at?
  3. How do you create a Demand Generation strategy without defining the target?
  4. How do you provide relevant content to the appropriate person at the right point in time if you don’t know the target?

Account Segmentation which includes defining the Ideal Customer Profile is the first step to building the foundation for a world class sales organization.  It all starts with the Ideal Customer Profile.   

Definition: The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) indicates your sales sweet spot where companies represent the best fit for your product or service.  These are the segments of the market that stand to benefit the greatest from adopting your solution.  The goal is to target the type of customer where you win the most. 

The ICP includes a cross-section of criteria that identifies your ideal target.     Firmographic data is the foundation on which the ICP is built.  Some of the most commonly used criteria in defining the ICP are:

  1. Annual Revenue
  2. Total Number of Employees
  3. Industry Vertical
  4. Sales footprint (US, Global)
  5. Buyer Role

Other criteria may include company lifecycle (growing, mature, declining), workforce make-up, existing physical/technical infrastructure, or senior leadership changes. 

Organizations can utilize their current data to create the ICP.

How do you build an Ideal Customer Profile?  Follow these easy steps:

  1. Pull reports or review past 18-24 months of sales data for sales by industry grouping and size of customer organization (SMB, Enterprise, Revenue strata). 
  2. Determine the top 3 industries represented in your customer base.
  3. Identify customer size that best represents your current install base (annual revenue, total number of employee’s)
  4. Confirm that the customer size has at least the same statistical relevance to your top 3 industries segments.  If not, assess which customer size best matches the customers in your top 3 segments.
  5. Confirm the sales footprint for your current customer base.
  6. Confirm the buyer of your product or service (this is the Economic Buyer who has the authority to sign a contract)

Fill out the worksheet for your organization. 

Example:

Profile Element

Industry #1

Industry #2

Industry #3

Industry Vertical

Chemicals

Aerospace

Transportation

Annual Revenue

>$1 Billon Revenue

>$1 Billon Revenue

>$5 Billon Revenue

Total # Employee’s

15,000

9,500

24,000

Sales Footprint

US & Canada

US & APAC

GLOBAL

Buyer Role

CIO

CIO

CIO

This example assumes that industry is the top segmentation driver.  Industry is most common, yet analysis of the customer base should look beyond industry for other more telling drivers of need.   

Working Copy:

Profile Element

Industry #1

Industry #2

Industry #3

Industry Vertical

 

 

 

Annual Revenue

 

 

 

Total # Employee’s

 

 

 

Sales Footprint

 

 

 

Buyer Role

 

 

 

 

You’ve now developed the initial framework for your Ideal Customer Profile.  You’re not done yet, your ICP needs to be vetted and validated.   Once you’ve completed an exhaustive validation, the next step is to align your messaging (Buyer Persona) to your ICP.

A winning sales strategy starts with the Ideal Customer Profile.  Don’t build your fiscal 2012 sales strategy shooting at the wrong targets.   

Don’t have the Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona’s developed?  Contact SBI to help your company develop a winning Sales Strategy for 2012- starting with the Ideal Customer Profile.

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Topics: sales strategy, Demand Generation

Posted by Tony Albachiara

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