We’ve all been there. You’re tasked with a new marketing initiative to implement, so you jump in immediately to try to show ROI as soon as possible. After all, you want to impress leadership and don’t want to lose your budget.
The catch? Sometimes this leads you to skip some critical steps or overlook a few yellow flags. In the world of account-based marketing (ABM), this can result in target accounts with little to no engagement and sub-optimal pipeline and revenue. Not the ideal outcome!
What went wrong?
If you want to build an account-based strategy that helps you win big, developing a strong ideal customer profile (ICP) is critical. Ultimately, if you don’t invest enough in your ICP, you could end up with a false list of target accounts—leading to wasted sales and marketing dollars. (Spoiler alert—that’s why we’ve created an ideal customer profile worksheet.)
After all, the core tenant of ABM is focusing resources on a smaller pool of potential customers rather than the traditional inbound demand-generation program. That’s why you need to be far more methodical about how you select these lucky accounts. Even the most targeted, highly-personalized campaigns won’t help you close new customers if you’re not speaking to the right accounts.
But how exactly do you know who those right accounts are? Luckily, we’ve developed an ideal customer profile template to help you out. Let’s get started.
What is (and isn’t) an ideal customer profile?
According to the TOPO 2019 Account-Based Benchmark Report, of the most successful account-based organizations, more than 80% say they have a strong ICP. For the other companies, only 42% say they do. Not to mention, organizations with a strong ICP also reported 68% higher win rates. Simply put—a lot rests on your ICP.
Before starting, it’s important to understand what an ICP isn’t. Despite some confusion in the ABM world, it isn’t your total addressable market (TAM), target account list (TAL), individual buyer or buyer persona, or above all, just any company that might want your product.
Instead, it’s a persona of an enterprise that’s an ideal fit for your product. That enterprise persona provides the strategic framework to manage resource allocation and activity across the entire business.
In its most basic form, an ICP defines the firmographic, technographic, and behavioral attributes of the accounts that are expected to become a company’s most valuable customers. You’ll develop this through both qualitative and quantitative analyses, and possibly some predictive analytics. Your ICP ultimately drives target account list creation, segmentation, organizational structure, and other key activities.
How do you build an ideal customer profile?
Since a strong ICP is the foundation for a successful account selection process or campaign set up, you’ll want to have a well-designed method for getting started. To develop a winning ICP, you need to take a detailed look at your most successful closed-won customers of past and present. That’s why we’ve built this ideal customer profile template to guide you through the process. Download your copy, and we’ll talk you through the rest.
Your ideal customer profile template
There are a few basic steps you’ll need to follow to fill out your ICP worksheet:
- Firmographic—Firmographics are descriptive attributes of companies that can be used to aggregate individual organizations into meaningful market segments. Essentially, firmographics are to businesses and organizations what demographics are to people. Some examples are:
- industry (e.g., investment banking, financial services, accounting)
- geography (e.g., U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland)
- company size (e.g., 500-5000 employees)
- revenue (e.g., $10MM+)
- Technographic—Technographics are a set of attributes that give insight into the tech stack of customers, including contract lengths and other details. Some examples are:
- marketing automation platform
- direct mail vendor
- website hosting vendor
- When looking at closed-won accounts, is there a certain type of company size or industry that is most prevalent? Does it surprise you in any way?
- Do your best accounts fall within any specific categories? If there are no clear patterns, you may want to find an ABM partner who can do a deeper analysis for you.
- Can you pull out the top few categories and plug them into Step 2 of your ideal customer profile worksheet? What story does this data tell?
Once you've pulled these patterns into your template, you'll have a defined ICP. To make it easier to communicate to your team and leadership, we suggest you fill in Step 3 of the ideal customer profile worksheet to clearly articulate your new ICP.