TLDR: Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) characterize the customer groups that best fit your services. ICPs aim to help businesses sign more profitable deals with shorter close times. Sales and marketing create ICPs by analyzing data from past customer engagements and deals, coalescing around a shared set of customer profiles to target. Marketing operations helps sales and marketing evaluate whether the data supports the personas created and guide them to refine the ICPs with each reporting cycle.


What is an ideal customer profile?

Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) are sketches of the buyers who best fit your services.

ICPs are similar to buyer personas, though they tend to characterize groups of customers rather than individual buyers. In theory, these groups are the easiest to close deals from and the most productive for sales and marketing to focus on in their initiatives.

Accurate ICPs help revenue teams do more deals in larger sizes and with shorter times to close.

But when sales and marketing teams create ideal customer profiles in poor alignment with each other, guided by personal biases over data, they risk approaching the wrong prospects with disjointed campaigns and processes that don’t attract business.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn to explain to sales and marketing what it takes to create ICPs that work—a data-driven approach with 100% alignment.


ICP 101

How to get started with ideal customer profiles: Ideal customer profiles begin with data. By analyzing past customer engagements and deals, sales and marketing can identify the most common traits of customers interested in your products and services.

A team will use a variety of behavioral identifiers (e.g., types and topics of content engagement, webinars and events registered) and demographic identifiers (e.g. job title, region, company, industry) to craft ICPs along with sales data.

Sales and marketing use these insights to create personalized content, messaging, and processes to attract increased business from these groups.


The goal of ideal customer profiles:

The goal of ICPs is to help businesses sign as many deals as quickly as possible and as profitable as possible.

Factoring in additional metrics like monthly recurring revenue, time to close, retention rates, and deal size can help sales and marketing succeed by focusing on the prospects most likely to engage positively with the business and return sustainable profits over time.


How to know if your ICPs are right:

There’s no magic recipe for crafting ideal customer profiles, but if sales and marketing are coming up with many disparate profiles, it suggests that your targeting efforts aren’t specific enough.

To get results, both teams should unite around a shared set of ICPs.

Without close alignment, sales and marketing might have completely different ideas about which customer groups to pursue. When marketing’s campaigns and messaging aren’t in sync with sales’ processes and understanding of the buyer journey, it’s unlikely that your efforts will strike a chord with any particular customer profile.

Between your sales reps and marketing colleagues, your revenue team might be a broad tent of past experience and expertise with different industries and customer segments.

Personal experience can lead your team to infer the best customer traits and groups to target, but data is the only reliable basis for your ICPs.

Past success stories and sector-specific knowledge can be helpful starting points for creating ICPs, but sales and marketing need to validate any assumptions by looking at past engagements and deals.


The overall theme with creating ICPs:

More alignment means more success.

Sales and Marketing should use the same bedrock of data to target shared customer groups with campaigns and processes that complement each other.


Continuous success

Ideally, ICPs lead sales and marketing to meet and exceed their targets:

  • Marketing creates campaigns that generate better MQLs.
  • Sales develops these MQLs into higher rates of opportunities, conversions, and accelerated conversations.

To validate that your ICPs are working, encourage your team to think of ICPs as projects of continuous refinement, where each new reporting cycle is an opportunity to reevaluate if the data justifies the personas that Sales and Marketing have created.

MOPs comes to the table as a valuable source of guidance.

By analyzing the composition of your database and where deals come from, MOPs can pinpoint the percentage of leads, opportunities, and closed sales that meet your teams’ profile criteria and advise on the most optimal ways to segment your customer base.

With the latest data, consulting sales and marketing at regular intervals can help answer a range of decisive questions including:

  • How are particular ICPs performing at different sales cycle stages?
  • What profile characteristics can you tweak?
  • How might you account for ICPs in industries (e.g. government, education) that are significant seasonal buyers?
  • Are there any metrics not currently accounted for that are emerging as influential?

Whatever your reporting cadence—weekly, biweekly, monthly—a continuous process of analysis and adaptation is how your ICPs stay relevant.

Sit down with sales and marketing regularly to go through the reports, and you can encourage a well-informed and agile process of decision-making, where teams can pivot fast in response to ICPs that aren’t yielding results.


The takeaway

ICPs are valuable for Sales and Marketing to identify and refine how they target customer segments, but executing them effectively requires 100% alignment between teams and continuous analysis of engagement and deal data.

By working closely with MOPs to arrive at data-driven decisions, Revenue teams can create campaigns and processes that win more lucrative deals with shorter close times.

For any guidance with creating and executing ICPs, Revenue Pulse is here to help.