by Mia Rossman on 18 Jan, 2018 ~6 minutes read

You have to take the first step if you want to climb a mountain.

For many businesses, the creation of an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is this first step that leads to a stream of sales. Like many other new companies, OxyLeads had to learn the hard way that the global SaaS market is extremely competitive.

Only by creating ICP, we managed to discover scalable and repeatable strategies to engage and convert prospects that become company’s most valuable clients. Now, our ICP guides everything what we do - from product features to marketing messages.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to create your Ideal Customer Profile and use it to find new clients.

How to develop your ICP?

1. Gather data

Take a look at your current clients and identify those who bring the most value. Then, gather as much information about them as possible.

We’ve made a list of questions that can be used to build your ICP. However, there is no need to answer all of them. Select only those that make sense to you now and, if new data comes along, update your ICP.

ICP question list:

  • Company size: number of employees, number of clients, annual revenue?
  • Who are the decision makers in the company?
  • Who is paying for new services and products?
  • What is their company structure?
  • What is their niche? Which industry is the company serving?
  • How big is the relevant department?
  • How long has the company already been in business?
  • Are there any reasons that could prevent the company from buying your product?
  • Are there any reasons that could make the company decide to buy your product?
  • What makes your offer interesting to them?
  • What goal is the company planning to achieve using your product or service?
  • How are they trying to achieve this goal right now?
  • Why has the company decided to use this approach?
  • What’s the main point with it?
  • Which three features of your product are the most valuable for them?
  • How does the buying process look like?
  • Has the company made a buying decision that fulfilled their needs? If yes, how often has it happened?
  • Which tools and solutions is the company currently using?
  • Where is the company located?
  • Are there any usage patterns?
  • How does the company position itself in the market?
  • What language does the company use to describe its products or services?
  • Are they technically sophisticated?
  • What distribution channels does the company use?
  • Are there any seasonal or temporal factors?
  • Is the company more focused on being innovative or on trying to reduce risks?

Sources: Close.io, Sales Hacker, Robert Hennessey, sixteenventures.com

2. Identify similarities

Now, that you’ve answered the ICP questions, try to identify what your top clients have in common. It can be company size, number of employees, annual revenue, similarities in buying process or business goals, and more.

3. Write it down

To make your Ideal Customer Profile work, it has to fit unique needs of your company. Instead of using some ICP template that you find online, focus on data points that are relevant to you and create a free-form description.

Don’t spend too much time on perfecting your ICP description. It’s much more important to make it an integral part of your marketing and sales planning as soon as possible. Create a template that can be easily updated and start using it right away.

Discovering companies that fit your ICP

To find new clients using your Ideal Customer Profile start by discovering companies that could be interested in your product or service. The easiest way to do this is to extract specific data points from your ICP description and set them up as filters in a business data platform.

For example, by putting filters in the Oxyleads business data platform, we found out that more than 3000 companies would fit this kind of ICP:

  • Industry: Retail
  • Country: USA
  • Size: Medium
  • Revenue: up to 100M
  • Funding received: Any
  • Organization type: Private

business data platform

Although B2B data platforms help to find potential clients faster, there are many other ways to attract people who fit your Ideal Customer Profile. For instance, for LiveChat, inbound marketing works the best, so you could check these four strategies that gave them great results.

However, ICPs are mostly related to outbound marketing. Companies use them while trying to find decision makers and reach out to them with a relevant and personalized offer.

Contacting the right people

Reaching the right person at the right time with a highly personalized message is the only way to close a deal. You can use your ICP to prepare and deliver a valuable message that speaks to your recipient’s interests. How?

1. ICPs provide background information

Before contacting your potential client, you must do your homework. Therefore,conduct some initial research about the company and the potential decision maker. By creating your ICP, you’ve already done some of this research. ICPs usually contain such information as company size, revenue, a number of employees, and more.

By having this data, you can easily figure out a few points on how your product could benefit the target company and use them in your initial inquiry.

2. ICPs help to personalize

As Tucker Max explains in his article:

Personalization means that you’ve thought about who this person is, how they see the world, what interests them, and what they want.

If you’d go back to the ICP question list, you’ll see that it includes questions such as:

  • What makes your offer interesting to them?
  • What goal is the company planning to achieve using your product or service?
  • What language does the company use to describe its products or services?

The answers to these questions allow you to identify what challenges your prospect is facing every day and how your product or service can help solve them. These answers give you a solid base for writing personalized offers.

Every company is, of course, different and some additional work has to be done, but it’s safe to say that by using your ICP you can cut down on at least some of this work.

3. ICPs help to write better sales emails

38% of salespeople say that getting a response from prospects is becoming harder, but, at least in e-commerce, emails deliver three times as much revenue as Facebook on a last-click basis.

As any copywriter will tell you, there’s a big difference between writing to someone you don’t know and composing an email to a person that you’re familiar with. By creating your ICP, you’ve already made a first step towards “getting to know” your potential clients and increasing the response rate of your cold emails.

Using ICPs, you can write emails that are relevant, fit your prospect’s business goals and, most importantly, deliver value.

Why are ICPs important?

Creating an Ideal Customer Profile is important because it helps to discover new markets, identify potential clients, and write the most compelling and relevant emails.

Your ICP will help you to create a system of repeatable actions that ensure a constant stream of sales. It will allow you to find a niche for your product or service and target companies that are most likely to become paying clients.

Remember, that any ICP description is better than none, so start with what you have and update as you go.

Download the IDEAL CUSTOMER PROFILE question list here.

About the author:

Mia Rossman

Mia Rossman is a content Manager at the lead generation and digital prospecting platform OxyLeads. She is passionate about learning how data help companies grow faster and is excited to share useful content with others.

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