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How to Create an ICP Your Sales Team Will Actually Use

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Frustrated by poor targeting slowing down your sales process? Fed up with reps wasting time on leads who will never convert?

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) could be the solution you’re looking for. Done right, these profiles help sales reps focus their efforts, stop them from wasting time, and help them close more deals.

The problem is, ICPs are rarely given the time and attention they deserve. That changes today. In this article, we’ll show you how you can create and use a detailed, effective ICP from scratch — the kind of ICP that will become a staple of your sales enablement collateral and a constant reminder for sales reps to stay focused on high-value prospects.

What is an ideal customer profile (ICP)?

Time for a quick sales and marketing definition. An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a description of your perfect target company — the kind of organization that derives enormous value from your product or service. It is typically used in a B2B setting and includes details on a range of characteristics, including:

  • Demographics
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Revenue
  • Goals
  • Pain points
  • Common objections

This information is important. But unfortunately, most ICPs don’t go deep enough. For starters, a lot of ICPs are based on data fabricated from thin air rather than information sourced from your CRM, employees or clients. If they are backed by real data, then the chances are they aren’t detailed enough to provide actionable advice for your sales reps.

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The difference between an ICP and a buyer persona

Let’s also use this section as an opportunity to clear up some common misunderstandings between an ICP and a buyer persona or customer persona.

You probably know they aren't the same thing. While an ICP describes the ideal organization you want to target, customer personas describe a person within that organization.

You can see some of the key differences in the image below:

ICP vs Buyer Persona

It’s not enough for you to know the difference, however. Your sales team needs to understand the difference so they know which to use.

The benefits of going deep with an ICP

Some marketers and sales teams view the creation of an ICP as a tick-box exercise. If this is your attitude, there’s no point in creating them. But if you want to create an in-depth ICP, the kind that sales teams can refer to time and again, there are multiple benefits for doing so:

The benefit of going deep with an ICP

Spend resources more efficiently

Most small businesses don’t have bottomless budgets. A succinct and accurate ICP can stop salespeople from wasting resources and help marketers create better-targeted campaigns. You may spend fewer resources, but you should convert even more customers.

Create a faster and more effective sales cycle

An in-depth ICP can speed up your sales process since sales reps have to do less research and won’t waste time on inappropriate prospects. That should result in reps having much higher conversion rates and better win-loss rates.

It will also better align sales and marketing teams, ensuring both departments are pulling in the right direction and targeting the right people.

Improve customer lifetime value

If you use CRM data to create an effective ICP, your sales team should be able to accurately target prospects with the highest potential profitability. This will result in a higher customer lifetime value (CLV) and also make things easier for customer success teams.

A 6-step process any business owner can use to create an ICP

If you haven’t created an ICP yet, use the following simple six-step process to create one your sales team will love.

A 6-step process any business owner can use to create an ICP
  1. List your best customers

    Your ICP should be based on your best customers. So the first step is to find out who those customers are. How you define best will depend on your organization. It could be the customers that pay you the most each month, the customers with the highest lifetime value, or those who get the most value from your products. Your CRM is a goldmine in this respect.

    A screenshot of TigerLRM's CRM

    You’ll probably end up combining several of these metrics to find your best customers. That’s why it’s important to speak to marketing, sales and customer service teams so you can understand which type of customer is easiest to target, who needs your solution the most and which customers cause the least amount of trouble once they’re onboarded.

    Finding these kinds of accounts is even easier when you use TigerLRM. Our CRM provides a centralized hub for the entire user journey, allowing sales, marketing and customer success teams to provide high-quality data across the entire customer journey.

  2. Speak to those customers

    Once you’ve defined your ideal customer, you’ll want to speak to the existing customers who inspired it. Find out what makes each of them tick, why they chose your product, and why they were looking for a solution in the first place. If you do audits of your CRM to make sure your information is accurate (which you should do every six months), you can easily segue the conversation into asking your client these questions.

    Here are some less common questions you can ask to create a richer ICP:

    • What is your buying process like? Who are the decision-makers?
    • What tools are you currently using?
    • What research did you do before buying our solution?
    • Which features have helped you the most?
  3. List out common attributes

    Now it’s time to combine all of the data you’ve gathered so far. Go back through the quantitative data you mined from your CRM and the qualitative data you gathered from employees and existing customers and mine it to find the common attributes these customers share.

    Start off by looking at some of the characteristics we mentioned at the start of this article, but don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, you could look at each company’s structure, their sales process, or who they serve. It might be as simple as them working in the same industry, or it could be that there’s a certain department in each company that really gets value from your tool.

    The deeper you can go when listing out common attributes, the more impactful your ICP will be.

  4. Prioritize attributes

    Some of the attributes you listed in the previous step are going to matter. But some aren’t. It’s now your job to work out which is which.

    Once you’ve identified the attributes that matter, you’re going to want to prioritize their order of importance. This will help your reps understand which attributes they need to focus on most when qualifying prospects.

    The other benefit of ranking attributes is that it gives your sales team some leeway when profiling potential customers. Reps can understand which attributes are most important, but they don’t have to blindly abide by your ICP. In other words, if a target has the top three most important attributes but not many others, they know they are still probably a really good prospect.

  5. Document everything

    This step is easy. It’s time to create your ICP by writing down everything you have learned so far in a structured format like the example template TigerLRM has below.

    An example of a sales ICP

    You’ll want to make your ICP as detailed as possible. So list out the most common attributes and highlight how important each of them are.

    You can go even further by including the qualitative data you gathered by speaking to clients. Including things like common pain points and objections will give your sales reps genuine talking points that can steer the conversation in the right direction. Aspects like this are also included in TigerLRM’s template.

  6. Keep refining your ICP

    You don’t just create an ICP once. Because both your perfect customer and the market is likely to change, your ICP should be a living document — one that you update regularly to make sure it’s as effective as possible.

    Make a point of revisiting your ICPs every six months or so and reviewing all of your data. You don’t have to go through the entire process again, but you should make sure that the customers you have used your ICP to target are just as good as the customers that inspired it.

    If you don’t have time, then consider using a sales enablement service to optimize your ICP on your behalf. At TigerLRM, we provide premium sales enablement services that amplify the power of your CRM and ensure no lead is left behind. Our team can review your sales data and make necessary changes to your ICP where appropriate. They can even monitor your sales reps activity and provide training on how to implement ICPs into their workflow.

How to use your ICP to make more sales

Creating a sales ICP is only half the battle. It’s only useful if your sales and marketing team uses it to improve their performance. Here are some tactics you can use.

Make it a checklist that sales reps use

This is the most common use case for an ICP. Sales reps should refer to your ICP every time they qualify a prospect. If the prospect isn’t a close match, then reps won't waste their time speaking to the prospect anymore.

They don’t have to be a perfect match, mind you. Don’t force sales reps to ignore perfectly good prospects because they don’t fit the bill entirely.

If you haven’t used an ICP in your organization before, make sure reps are up to speed on what it is and how to use it. Hold training sessions if necessary and run spot checks to make sure your ICP is actually being used on calls.

Store it somewhere easy to find

Once you’ve created your ICP, you’ll want to store it somewhere it’s easy for everyone to find. A sales enablement platform is a great choice since it can be accessed by salespeople while talking to prospects on the phone. Other departments like marketing can also access it from this kind of communal location.

This is one of the reasons we’ve made the Sales Playbook a core feature of the TigerLRM platform. Your team gets all the tools they need (including your ICP) in one place, allowing them to eliminate guesswork and seamlessly follow best practices.

Have it form the basis of marketing campaigns

Your marketing team should be using your ICP almost as much as your sales team. By creating an ICP, you’ll help marketing to better craft messages that speak directly to the users you want to attract. This is relevant whether they are creating a paid ad campaign or creating sales enablement material for your sales reps.

It will also help marketing better score leads, so they know which prospects to move to classify as an MQL and pass onto your sales team.

Make sure your product and features align with your ICP

Your ICP should ‌guide your marketing and sales teams when finding and selling to new prospects. It should also help your product team improve your tool or service. Thanks to your ICP, you know exactly what kind of problems your best customers are trying to solve, which features they value most, and what other solutions they’ve tried. You may even be able to use your ICP to adjust your price to reflect your ICP’s budget.

Set up automated sales alerts

When you know what separates a great prospect from an average one, you can set up automated alerts when prospects in your CRM meet key buying signals.

For example, let's say your best customers receive one or more funding rounds. Having an automated alert that notifies you when customers in your CRM close a new funding round would be incredibly helpful for sales reps looking to make the most out of every new opportunity.

Build and store your ICP with TigerLRM

Stop taking the task of creating an ideal customer profile lightly and spend time creating an ICP your team will actually use. Find out as much as you can about your best customers from your CRM and employees, and add as much depth to your profile as you can.

Don’t stop, either. Remember that an ICP is not a static document but an evolving guide that should be updated regularly. It needs to reflect your ever-changing customer base and market conditions.

Once you’ve created your ICP, you can use TigerLRM’s sales enablement platform to store your ICP and make it part of your sales playbook. That way your sales team will always have access to it.

How to assign a user to become a sales enablement professional in your TigerLRM Dashboard.

To assign a sales enablement user, simply go to Administrator > User Management > Edit User.

Once you are on the user's information, you can select if you want them to be "Non-Admin," "Admin," or part of the "Enablement Team." Save this information, and your desired user will have the right access.

You can access your Dashboard here.