How to Define a B2B Ideal Customer Profile and Find the Decision Maker: a Walkthrough Guide
February 11, 2021 11 min. read
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One of the basic steps of starting a business is to answer the fundamental yet commonly neglected question: who is my client? It sounds obvious, but you would be amazed how often teams don’t know who exactly they want to sell to. This is especially relevant for startups and especially fatal for b2b ones.
Targeting the wrong companies and decision makers, crafting the incorrect offer, ineffective outreach campaigns… Bruh. Not something you’ve been aiming for, huh?
Remember: to achieve success in b2b sales, you have to determine a solid ideal customer profile (ICP) or profiles.
Ready to find out how to do it? Let’s go!
Defining Your ICP in B2B Sales
You sure want clients, but truth be told, you want more than that. You want The Clients: the ones with the shortest sales cycle; the ones that need you and are happy to resolve their pain with your value proposition. The ones with high retention: friendly pals who will be impressed with services and products to the level of willingly recommending you to others.
Felt that? Now, specify: flesh out this feeling of an abstract ideal customer into a specific one you want to engage and sell to. That’s what creating an ICP means in b2b: making a portrait of a company that you want to work with and that your offer will be targeted at.
It’s best to outline it in very little detail, and it’s most likely that your business will have several ICPs compatible with different segments of the market you’re aiming for.
Ok, but Why Should I Take It Seriously?
We can’t stress enough the importance of the ICP. It’s like a map to your future profits. If you outline it in an incorrect way, you risk not only failing and closing no deals, but also putting in extra effort and money, instead of reaching your destination straight away and multiplying your revenue.
So, why is defining an ICP that important in b2b?
• It helps to understand the segment and companies you’re aiming for;
• It’s an enormous help for targeting;
• It plays an essential role in lead generation;
• You’ll understand how to make your message the most personalized.
Believe us, we could go on for hours.
Thus, incorrect ICPs set a chain reaction in motion. First, you define your target audience and segment the market wrong. Then your offer aims at irrelevant companies, and you get unqualified leads. All in all, resources and time are trifled away.
The final result is a weak selling strategy, vague marketing campaigns, lags in communication with clients, budgets blown… Ugh.
Let’s find out how to avoid it and outline the ideal customer profile in a correct way.
Creating the ICP: Key Points
The first thing to understand is who an ideal b2b customer is in general:
The ideal b2b customer is a company that is 1) interested in and 2) compatible with your product and services.
Thus, you should pay close attention to these two simple but essential parameters while building an ICP. To do so, you should study the market thoroughly and gain info on your potential clients.
Here are three key steps to follow.
Step 1: Define Firmographics
Firmographics is kind of a demographic data but for b2b customers. In case of b2c, it would be gender, age, etc. As for b2b, here are the questions to research and answer:
1. What is the industry your lead operates in?
2. Where is the company located?
3. How many employees does the company have?
4. What is its annual revenue?
5. What is the capital invested?
6. What is the business growth rate?
7. How many rep offices are there?
8. What niche in the market does the company occupy?
These are basics and essential ones, but if you dig deeper into the details and make the portrait even more precise – go ahead. That’s better for you.
We bet you have some companies in mind. The tools that will help you make sure they suit your ICP, help you answer questions from the list, and gather enough data on your potential clients are:
1. LinkedIn – the most popular social media to find basic info like organizational structure and decision-makers;
2. G2 – the list of B2B companies and the major international reviews platform;
3. Clutch – a G2 alternative;
4. Discover.org – one more solid database of b2b companies;
5. CheetahIQ – the software for financial analysis of the company and the latest news about them;
6. ZoomInfo – a growth acceleration platform delivering accurate and actionable contact and business information.
Once you figure everything out, move to the next step.
Step 2. Determine Technographics
Technographics stands for the tech stack the organization uses. This info is pivotal to define: it doesn’t matter how great your offer is, if leads you reach out to won’t be able to approach it. Everything you have done before, all the effort you have taken, will become irrelevant in a mere second.
To prevent such a situation, answer these questions:
• What soft and programming languages does the company use?
• Are there any tech dependencies?
• Is your product compatible with the technology suite?
Thus, make sure your product is relevant for your potential clients in terms of hardware and software. Luckily, you don’t have to rely on your intuition or a spy within an organization to find it out.
Here are the tools you can use to get this info:
1. SimilarTech is one of the major services to identify a company’s tech stack.
2. UpLead gives you access to 54 million business contacts worldwide. From here, search by 50+ criteria (including job title, industry, and location) to zero in on your ideal leads.
3. Snov.io Technology Checker – an easy and straightforward service with reverse logic. It helps to find which companies are using one technology stack or another.
4. BuiltWith – one more service with an impressive database (more than 44900 web-technologies and over a quarter-billion web-pages).
5. Glassdoor, Monster, and other job boards. By analyzing the job openings, job descriptions, responsibility list, and criteria for the desirable candidate, you can define what instruments and technologies developers use.
Step 3. Inside from Within
Sometimes, the key to determining an ideal customer profile and finding the best leads is closer than you could even think. All you have to do is to look inside your own sales department. Scrape down your top 50 sales. What do your best clients have in common? Talk to your sales reps, investigate data you already have. Believe us, you may find numerous exciting insights.
Make it a ritual: this practice will help to analyze your sales at a time span and tune your ICPs in real time.
Have you detected the ideal b2b lead? Almost.
Detecting Decision Makers
Another essential step is defining decision makers. Despite the fact that you’ll be selling to the company, you’ll be reaching out to particular people – those responsible for making decisions on your product and services.
How to find out who these people are? Investigate the company’s structure and organizational flow. Researching LinkedIn always helps. 😉
Here are some useful tips:
1. Try to grasp the way decisions are made in this company. How many people are involved in it and who plays a critical role? The possible options are advisors, users, budget owners, etc.
2. Identify the roles decision makers take. These can be VP for Sales, Head of Business Development, Head of Sales, CEO, CMO, CRO, etc.
3. Spy on your competitors. How do they target? What sales channels do they use? Take a peek into customers’ reviews — usually, decision makers leave feedback on those.
Remember, it’s better to identify and reach out to several people. One of them can be a decision maker you have been searching for. Even if not, they can pass on your email to the right person.
Hooray! By this stage, you’ve done a huge amount of work. The next steps to follow will be:
1. Creating a custom offer for each ICP segment based on the collected data.
2. Testing to tune ICPs.
3. Starting an outreach campaign. We created a detailed guide to help you out with that.
Remember: only with the right ICPs determined and decision makers outlined, will your targeting and outreach hit the bull’s eye. Be thorough at this step, and the impressive result won’t be long in coming.
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