Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Article author
Sarah Malone
  • Updated

Overview

 

If you want to lay the foundations for a successful sales strategy, you first need to identify your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). An ICP is a fictitious company that combines the key characteristics that best portray your ideal customer. By analyzing firmographics such as company size, industry, location, annual revenue, and budget you can more easily define the types of companies that you serve best. This in turn helps you to better understand your customer’s biggest pain points, tailor your products or services to their needs, and focus your sales efforts on bringing in the most qualified customers so that you can reduce churn and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Any B2B business set on boosting growth, improving customer relationships, and increasing sales should identify and define their ICP.

Refer to the sections below for more information about the steps to follow to create your ICP and how you can apply that information to your sales campaigns within Apollo.

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Create Your Ideal Customer Profile

ICP Infographic

To ensure you find, engage, and convert the right businesses for your product(s) or service(s), you need to identify the defining characteristics of your ideal customer.

Start by asking yourself 5 important questions:

  • Which of your current customers make the most out of your product(s) or service(s)?
  • What traits do your best customers have in common?
  • What recurring objections do you receive from past customers or lost opportunities?
  • Which customers are easiest to upsell to and why?
  • What do the customers of your closest competitors have in common?

To answer all of these questions thoroughly, you need to dive into your data and align all departments. Every team in your business can offer valuable insights that will help influence and tailor your sales strategies so that you can share the right message with the right companies at the right time.

To better pinpoint what your Ideal Customer Profile looks like, follow these 4 steps:

Analyze Your Existing Data

Gather the data from your CRM and look for key trends between your customers. Categorize them by defining attributes such as industry, company size, revenue, funding, technology stack, and location. Compare these attributes with their profitability scores. Think about which customers have been with you for the longest. Is there a relationship between certain firmographics and their Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores? Could industry or employee headcount, for example, be impacting customer longevity? Consider which industries have the shortest and longest sales cycles. What characteristics differentiate them? Examine the main causes of customer churn. Do these companies share any defining attributes? Look for distinct patterns between all of the companies that you analyze.

Rank Your Customers

When you analyze your data, create a list of your best and worst customers. Consider what makes them such a great fit or a big risk to take on. Discuss the most common objections that your Sales and Customer Success teams face regularly. Reflect on the key attributes that can lead these deals to falter. You’ll need to talk to each department to clarify the metrics that they use to set their team’s objectives and define success. This will help frame the specific attributes that you all agree to be the most important for your company.

Remember that there isn’t one “right” metric to determine the Ideal Customer Profiles for your business. What might be important to one company, is not necessarily relevant to another. You need to adapt your analysis to fit your company’s objectives.

One way to go about this is to rank your customers based on their CLV, ROI, and CSAT scores and then compare this data with the firmographics that you gathered at the beginning to see if there are any distinct patterns between them. You may find that what you thought were your “best” customers do not actually bring the most benefit to your company long-term. By teaming up with other departments, you will be able to take a more holistic approach to how you define “best” and “worst.”

Dissect Your Success

Get granular. Once you have a list of your “best” and “worst” customers, don’t just analyze the data, but also the approach that you took to close and maintain these customers. The more detail you go into, the easier it will then be for you to relate to your customers and build your product or service around their needs. You can then start to hone in on the types of Personas to reach out to within your ICP.

 
ICP vs. Persona

Please note, a Persona is not the same as an ICP. To identify your ICP you need to use measurable data (such as company size and industry for B2B or age and gender for B2C) to gather information about the type of business or individual that is best suited to your company offerings. To identify your Personas, you need to use qualitative data (such as pain points, goals and personality type) to gather information about the kinds of individuals that fall within your Ideal Customer Profile. An ICP helps you to clarify who you sell to, whereas Personas help you to clarify how you sell to them. Both should play an important role in your sales and marketing strategies, but you cannot define your Personas without first defining your ICP.

Once you understand your ICP from the inside out, you can better tailor your product or service to address the specific pain points of your Personas. Speak to Customer Support to identify the common questions and characteristics of your long-standing customers. Consult with Customer Success to find out what kinds of accounts are easiest to upsell. If you dissect what is currently working and analyze the common factors contributing to that success, you can replicate your efforts in a more scalable and sustainable way.

Build Your ICP

Now you’re ready to set the parameters for your success. Use the data you have gathered to draw conclusions.

Here is an example of what your comparison might look like:

 
Metrics and Attributes to Analyze

Please remember that the attributes and metrics you choose to gather and analyze should be specific and relevant to your company’s goals. The information below is just an example.

Best Companies Key Firmographics CSAT Score ROI CLV Ratio Customer Health # of Referrals
Company Type #1
  • Tech Industry
  • Size: Medium
  • Headcount: >200
  • ARR: $200 million
  • HQ Location: North America
95% 30% 3:1 Healthy >5
Worst Companies Key Firmographics CSAT Score ROI CLV Ratio Customer Health # of Referrals
Company Type #1
  • Retail Industry
  • Size: Small/Start Up
  • Headcount: <50
  • ARR: $50 million
  • HQ Location: Europe
50% -10% 1:1 At Risk 0

Once you have analyzed your “best” companies and grouped them by their key characteristics, you are ready to create your ICP.

 
Multiple ICPs

Please note, you can have more than one ICP. This may be necessary if you offer more than one product or service that focuses on solving different pain points.

Here is an example of what your completed ICP might look like:

Our primary ICP is a medium-sized B2B company in the tech industry. 
Their HQ is located in North America, but they serve a global market. 
Their clients are medium to enterprise-sized companies and their Annual Recurring 
Revenue (ARR) is between $500 million to $1 billion. 
They are undergoing significant growth, have recently received funding, 
and are currently Salesforce and Outreach users.

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Apply Your ICP to Apollo

Ideal Customer Profile

Now that you have identified your Ideal Customer Profile, there are several ways that you can use Apollo to further tailor your sales approach to find and engage with your ideal customers.

Filters

Filters allow you to include or exclude specific subsets of data when you search for new Contacts or Accounts in Apollo. This helps you to better segment and personalize searches in Apollo so that you can find and engage with the companies that best reflect your ICP.

As you use Apollo to hone in on your Ideal Customer Profiles, you can search using the most relevant Filters for your campaigns. This helps you to concentrate your sales efforts on finding the specific companies that share the same characteristics as your ideal customer.

 
Access Search Filters

For more information about how to access Filters and the types of Filters available, please refer to the "Search Filters Overview" article.

Personas

Personas are sets of titles, seniorities, and departments that define different groups of people that you can target. This allows you to find contacts faster with Apollo's Search tool, receive better recommendations, and improve analytics.

As you use Apollo to hone in on your Ideal Customer Profiles, you can create the Personas that best fit the description of your ICP.

 
Create Personas

For more information about how to create Personas, please refer to the "Create a Persona" article.

Sequences

Sequences are outreach campaigns with any number of sequential contact points and tasks that you can customize to personally engage your ideal customers at scale. They help your team communicate with your ICP and complete the right tasks at the right time to speed your prospects through your pipeline and turn them into paying customers as efficiently as possible.

As you use Apollo to hone in on your Ideal Customer Profiles, you can create sequences to match each type of Persona with automatic and manual messages, LinkedIn engagement, calls, and action items that speak directly to the needs and goals of your ideal customers.

 
Create Sequences

For more information about Sequences, please refer to the "Sequences Overview" article.

Analytics

Apollo Analytics provide you with actionable data that you can use to improve your sales strategies. The Analytics suite consists of two important assets that you can take advantage of to fine-tune your campaigns and more effectively engage with your Ideal Customer Profiles. These assets are Reports and Dashboards.

Reports provide you with a means of aggregating in-app metrics into various visualization types while using specific Filters to refine the visualizations. Dashboards provide you with a means of visualizing several related Reports in a common interface.

As you use Apollo to hone in on your Ideal Customer Profiles, you can create ICP related Dashboards that include the reports from your highly targeted sales campaigns. Apply the appropriate Filters when you create your reports and you can visualize how ICP affects your engagement. This means that you can continue to refine and solidify the attributes that best define your Ideal Customer Profiles and make more informed decisions based on actionable data.

 
Access Analytics

For more information about Apollo Analytics, please refer to the "Build and Access Reports in Apollo" and the "Build and Access Dashboards in Apollo" articles.

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