By understanding exactly who your client is, you can rationally allocate your efforts to sales and other business tasks. A wide reach of the target audience quickly leads to blurry sales information, ineffective sales methods that require more significant customer service. But the solution is known ─ generate leads that can quickly become perfect profit bringers.
Leads can be successfully generated if you understand the value of your own products and clearly articulate business goals. The task is solved with the help of an ideal customer profile (ICP) and the subsequent adaptation of marketing efforts to their own goals. We will explain how to create and use an ICP or find a suitable lead generation company.
What is an ICP and Why Does My Business Need it?
A customer profile is a general description of a perfect customer, covering a number of criteria, including marketing data and typical behavior. In essence, this is a detailed description of your target audience. Very similar to the image, but not a fictional image of the customer. It provides factual information on demographics, shopping behavior, individual customer and support interactions with customer service, and more.
When building a business, developing a go-to-market strategy, or giving directions to your sales team, it is important to have a clear description of the customer profile. Without this, you cannot distribute the product without offering too much and lowering your value in the eyes of a large number of customers.
The perfect profile should not be too broad, because no single most effective solution can be suitable for 100% of market problems. A generic widget created for a single department or industry can offer a concise set of features that either overlap with existing systems or work independently.
As such, ICP is a type of organization that works with customer bases which bring the greatest benefit. Thus:
- Creating products that complement existing systems can lower the barrier to entry, show a deep understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, and ultimately add value to the product in a shorter time frame.
- A refined customer profile will help you create better features and find and attract more potential customers. It will strengthen customer relationships and set you on the best trajectory to dominate the market.
We view the customer profile as the channel for product managers, marketers for positioning strategies, and salespeople looking for leads.
I Want Every Customer to Be Like…
It’s amazing how frivolously many entrepreneurs create a product in the hope that it will impact the target customers just like that. And they are surprised when this does not happen or when there are not enough customers in the first place. Others use ICPs but forget to revise them as their business grows. This is a simple yet powerful idea that allows you to focus your sales on a narrow target audience.
Having a clear understanding of what your perfect customer looks like today is the only way to direct your marketing and sales efforts right on target. The more detailed the profile is, the more accurately you will target the companies most in need of lead services.
Main Criteria of ICP
At the heart of your ICP are criteria, some of which are general and others that are unique to your business. You should know the following about your customers and related things:
- The niche where they are active;
- Their location;
- Size of companies they usually go to;
- Scale and demographics of the target audience;
- Their current goals and tasks;
- Their points of motivation;
- Their weaknesses and pains;
- The most frequent types of commercial decisions they make.
Surely, this list is just for getting started. By carefully analyzing your ideal clients, you will likely find other criteria as well. Remember that your customers are not buying a product or service, but the end result. At the same time, you have a need for regular customers, and not for a larger number of them. You sell your expertise by solving the problems of a client who will certainly appreciate it.
Mistakes When Creating ICP
The business must have a framework that is precisely outlined with red lines. Maybe the customer is using systems that your product is not compatible with. Or he/she is busy in an area of activity where you cannot offer sufficient support. Your ideal client is someone you can easily sell to. If there are obstacles along the way, you must avoid them.
But even with the right criteria in hand, composing an effective ICP is not easy. Below are the most common lead generator errors you should consider.
Mistake 1 – considering only the value you get
A well-composed ICP looks at both sides of the equation: the people you provide value to and the value you get from them. However, many ICPs focus too much on customer value. Of course, you are not a charity, but underestimating the value you can give hurts the bilateral relationship. If customers don’t get significant value, they leave.
Mistake 2 – thinking value only means revenue
The most obvious way a customer can bring value is through money. But not only. Good testimonials and positive feedback can be valuable assets and deliver much more value in the long run.
Mistake 3 – confusion with buyer personas
A buyer persona is a description of the person who gets the most value from your services. Before you start coming up with customer portraits and generate leads, you need to know where the customers are working and what they are doing. But first, the image of the fitting company is formed on the basis of demographics and firmographics, and then you can worry about individuals.
Mistake 4 – copying another lead generator’s experience
Each ICP is based on specific requirements and is therefore unique. But this is not a dogma, and it needs to be reviewed periodically. A business just starting out can get more value from influencers. Another will start making a profit and will immediately start looking for enough solvent buyers. Make sure ICP meets your needs and grows with you.
Mistake 5 – work on the go
Your ICP should be based on reliable information from real companies. If you are just starting out, you may not have many loyal customers on which to base an effective ICP. But you should have a vision.
Prospects that you think might be ideal should be researched. Until you work with them for a while, you cannot be completely sure of them. Check back from time to time, and when you have a lot of customers, get ready for a major revision of your profile.
Mistake 6 – actual non-use of ICP
You can create the best ICP in the world, but it will not be useful if it is not used. A lead generation company should become a reference point for sales and marketing departments. Ask them to think about it and suggest improvements. Each part of the campaign should target leads matching the current ICP. After all, you want more ideal customers, don’t you?
Tips for a Lead Generation Company
In our belief, to become a good sales lead generator, you must:
Listen to your guts
Chances are, you have customers that you think are ideal, even if you are not able to say exactly why. Probably, the symbiosis of factors makes you decide. The best way to figure it out is to make a list and try to find commonalities. Carefully analyze what these customers mean to you and how exactly they behave.
Focus on customers that get the ultimate benefit
The people who bought your product or ordered a service are not just buyers. These are clients who enjoy communicating with you, who are impressed by your suggestions, policies, and work style. They generally don’t need prompts or requests to write a good review.
They give thanks in person, happily letting you know how you’ve helped them, and willingly write five-star social media posts. This is your fan club ready to trumpet your achievements to the whole world!
Involve all departments
You make good money and you can believe that your customer is perfect. But often your support team is convinced otherwise. Overly demanding customers become a nightmare for it. And sales and accounting departments sometimes take too long to close a successful deal or solve one problem after another. Only a complete overview of each account will reveal the truly ideal customers.
Don’t be shy to talk to your customers
Of course, it is more convenient to conduct research while sitting in an office at a computer. However, some points in this situation are overlooked. Nothing replaces live communication. Discuss particular issues with customers over the phone. They will surely open your eyes to the current situation. And, perhaps, even tell you how to fix it. Ask why they prefer you over competitors. A trusting and respectful attitude will return a hundredfold.
Building effective ICPs to acquire qualified leads can seem like a task that only large and wealthy companies can handle. This is not entirely true. They became successful thanks to well-structured work with customers.
Define the circle of your customers who bring and receive the most value. See what they have in common. Based on these criteria, create and regularly review a profile. Business with real people has a lot of peculiarities and is particularly complex. However, if ICPs are correctly and carefully defined and used, enormous competitive advantages can be obtained.