B2B Sales 101 - ICPs - what they are, why they're important and what they mean for your business

Leanne Clegg

Sep 1, 2020 • 3.5 min read

Ideal Customer Profiles allow B2B sales and marketing to get aligned on generating the right leads for the business.

Businesses who don’t have a well defined Ideal Customer profile (ICP) often attract the incorrect customers and miss sales targets.

What is an ICP and what does it do?

Simply put, it’s a definition of a business that is going to get the most value out of using your product or service and also provide you with the most value in return.

ICPs allow you to choose who your customers are, and not the other way round.

Your ICP should define the type of customer that you are going to put your sales and marketing efforts into acquiring as they are the type of business you are most likely going to convert into paying customers and make successful. Not only that, they are also likely to provide you with testimonials, referrals and product feedback, bringing more value than just revenue.

The difference between an ICP and a buyer persona

Unlike buyer personas, ICPs focus on what job a particular business is looking to accomplish.

They determine what business type would benefit from your product and service, rather than just focusing on the individual needs of a generic job role, which is what a buyer persona does (I’m sure you’ll have seen Marketing Marie or HR Harry before).

Why ICPs are important for sales

Understanding their ICP can help sales teams all the way through the sales life cycle:

  1. Helping outbound sales development reps focus on finding higher quality leads
  2. Improving the conversion rate of leads to closed deals therefore helping hit sales targets
  3. Increasing the overall life time value of customers
  4. Bringing more inbound sales through referrals and recommendations

ICPs are not just for sales and marketing

Some people think only sales and marketing should care about ICPs. That’s not true.

Your ICP aligns your product team to make sure they are focused on building a product or service your ideal customers actually want rather than trying to cater for the masses and please those who are unlikely to convert.

How to create an ICP

Although ICPs are generally describing a fictitious business, the criteria that defines your ICP should never be made up.

1. Identify a list of your loyal customers

Look at what customers you have already and determine the ones who bring the most value to your business and see the most success from your product (this could be determined by revenue, referrals or general influence in their market).

2. Dig into the data of these customers

The data will help you to start figuring out what is common between each of the customers in the list. Think about and make a note of:

When writing this down, you should start to see a pattern form amongst the data collected for your customers. The commonalities you find should make up your ideal customer profile template.

Don’t forget: you should revisit your ideal customer profile every three months. As your product is developed and you bring in more customers, you may find a change in what your customers look like, therefore it’s important to keep your ICP up to date to ensure you’re always attracting the right types of people and businesses.

Figuring out whether leads meet your ICP with Ricochet

Part of an SDRs job role is to figure out which leads they find fit their ICP. This can often be a time-consuming task, particularly for outbound sales teams who need to actually find the leads first in order to qualify them.

To make this job easier for all, Ricochet’s free Chrome Extension gives you all the data you need in 1-click when prospecting on a potential customer’s website - giving you an instant understanding of whether they meet your specified criteria and are worth adding to your sales pipeline.

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