How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Sales and marketing alignment is critical to business growth. For skeptics who think otherwise, consider the following: Companies whose sales and marketing teams work together see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates (source).

While there are many ways to achieve sales and marketing alignment, the best place to start is to establish an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

What is an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?

An ICP is a combination of firmographic and behavioral characteristics that define an organization’s most valuable customers. By creating a general profile of an organization’s best accounts, sales and marketing teams can develop measurable strategies that convert these top buyers.

An ICP can inform your entire sales and marketing strategy, from content creation to advertising to sales outreach, by ultimately answering critical questions, such as:

  • What are key buying motivations & triggers? Why do these particular customers buy? Better yet, what factors disqualify them from buying? Do these motivations differ from the rest of your customer base?
  • Where and how do your customers prefer to be engaged? Different buyers have different preferences. While one buyer may be receptive to a cold call; others like to guide themselves through the buying process without the help of a sales rep.
  • How do you communicate your value proposition? In the B2B space, language varies from industry to industry. What type of messaging resonates with your best customers?

How to create your ICP

The best way to create an ICP is using a mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis. The ICP can be as detailed or general as your team needs it to be. A few basic characteristics to consider are company revenue, employee headcount (either the entire company, or within relevant department), industry, location(s) or job titles.

Those attributes alone may be enough to create your ICP; however, we recommend going deeper. Start by building out a list of your best customers. The term “best” is subjective; therefore, stakeholders throughout the entire organization must agree on the criteria. Here are a few additional considerations:

Monetary Considerations

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Calculate total CLV–the total net profit a company earns from any given customer over the course of the relationship. From a forecast and planning perspective, CLV helps companies determine how much to spend on customer acquisition.

Referrals: Your “best” customers may not necessarily have the highest CLV. Highly satisfied customers add additional value in the form of referrals. Statistics show that 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. Additionally, the majority of sales and marketing professionals agree referrals close faster (source).

Business Dependency Considerations

Product/Service Usage: The frequency at which customers use your product or service can go a long way. If applicable, drill down feature-by-feature to determine just how marketable specific functionality within your offering is.

Reputational Considerations

Advocacy: Your “best” customers may also be the companies most willing to publicly advocate for your product or service. This can include participation in case studies, online reviews, and more. Don’t discount this in your analysis; nearly 90% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (source).

Prominent Brands: Customers with established brands provide your organization with credibility and brand equity.

Need help?

The truth is, many organizations don’t have the internal bandwidth or necessary information on-hand to create an ICP. Contact ZoomInfo today if your team needs assistance identifying trends within your existing customer-base or finding similar accounts and contacts to engage.