What exactly is “ICP?”

You’ve been handed a list of target accounts — great! But now what?

Your Marketing and Product teams have come together and developed a list of the accounts they think will be a great fit for the company. After combing through analytics reports, trends, historical data, past deals, etc… these accounts have been elevated above the rest. They fit your Buyer Persona, or the type of company that could theoretically benefit from your product — and that’s a great! It’s important to target those companies for a few reasons: faster sales cycles, less objections to overcome, higher profitability, and sustainable revenue moving forwards. But can you take it to the next level?

Developing an ICP, or Ideal Customer Profile, will help you narrow down those target accounts to a more select list of prime accounts. These accounts aren’t just in the universe of potential prospects, but are one’s that the executive sales team can get excited about.

How Do We Get There?

Culling down your target list and developing an ICP means a lot of legwork, and that’s a task for your SDRs. By identifying trends in their outbound prospecting efforts, SDRs can piece together the puzzle of which accounts would be the best fit for your product. Through outbound teleprospecting efforts your SDRs will not only pass qualified leads, but clarify your product’s place within target industries and against the competition — this allows you to see how you stack up, and where your product could find the most traction.

By gaining qualitative information on top of the quantitative data your marketing team has found, you can begin to see which companies (and others similar to them) benefit the most from your offering. This information comes through activities like account mapping and having live conversations with key stakeholders at those target accounts. The supplementation of marketing data with these conversation notes is the core of your ICP, and will lay the base of its development moving forward.

What Does it Look Like?

Your ICP is personified by a collection of criteria that target accounts have to hit — a check-list of sorts. They can range all the way from what industry they lie in to how many employees they have. If you imagine what your perfect customer would look like and match that up to what your prospects look like, the ones that fall into your ICP will check off most (if not all) the boxes. If a majority are unchecked, the prospect probably isn’t a great fit.

Example: At XYZ Company you produce and sell a file sharing solution. Up until ICP development you’ve been targeting everyone — with limited to poor results. Your Marketing and Product team do some research and find out that the best deals (profitability, sustainable revenue, fast sales cycle) lie within specific areas:
* The Software and Manufacturing Industries
* Companies that have over 250 Employees
* Companies with multiple offices / an international presence
* Marketing and Communications departments / titles
After developing this check list you can match up all of your prospects against it — if they hit the criteria set by marketing and product they’ll be a good fit, if not then it’s best to keep them off the target list.

Through the combination of this quantitative data from Marketing / Product and your SDRs qualitative data, these criteria will keep changing. The more information your SDRs get the more accurate these criteria, and your ICP, will become.

What About the Rest?

For the companies that don’t fit the bill they provide a reservoir list of potential information. Your ICP is always in need of further development, and the information that those companies could provide will help you augment or cull your criteria. By pulling in new accounts and having conversations you’ll keep up to date on industry trends, and better understand the technology landscape. This information could help you shore up the ICP for future reference by adding potential new industries, company profiles and target titles to your criteria.

In the end, developing an ICP means you’re working on finding new and evolving trends in your target accounts and industries. Giving these trends a quantitative measure and matching them up with your target accounts will reveal to you the top accounts to reach out to. Do this and your revenue, closed deals and overall profitability will skyrocket.

Does your sales team have an up to date ICP? Or are you working off old trends?

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Originally published at demanddrive.com on February 5, 2016.