Beginner’s Guide to Developing Your ICP
By Chris Isham, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer
Creating an ideal customer profile for outbound marketing tactics might seem like a very easy task, i.e., “I sell lead generation programs, therefore I need to target marketers.” The reality of the situation is that it’s not that easy, but it also doesn’t have to be a difficult process as long as you do not overthink it.
Most marketers incorrectly target Directors, VPs, and the C-Suite because that is who signs the check. To make matters worse, now that we live in an “ABM world” they are building out ABM lists based on hopes and dreams. Instead, marketers should use valuable tools to target companies that are in an active research cycle or even in their buyer’s journey.
Here are two easy-to-implement strategies to make sure that you’re targeting decision makers at organizations who are actually in-market for your solution.
We all want to sell to the decision maker that is going to sign the PO or the contract… It makes sense, why waste time moving up the chain when you can start at the top? The problem with this methodology is that the C-Suite rarely has time to take calls or answer emails from vendors, not to mention that most software and services are purchased via a committee. The final decision makers are also not the decision makers doing the research on vendor products.
From a lead generation perspective, marketers should be painting their ideal customer profile with a broad brush, especially as it relates to job titles. This may not be a popular opinion, but consider:
- Target the job titles that actually experience the pain. This is going to increase the likelihood that “lower level” titles will champion your solution to the final decision maker to solve their team’s day-to-day problem.
- Targeting a broader audience gives you more “at-bats.” Reaching out to influencers also increases your chances for referrals to the final decision makers.
To be clear, I am not recommending that marketers never target the final decision makers – you should and you should do so aggressively. I am simply suggesting that targeting a broader audience (within reason) will increase the likelihood of starting a conversation with accounts that fit within your ICP. Marketing these days is full of jargon, metrics, and strategies but sales do not occur without conversations. If you have position messaging for ALL of the influencers in the decision making process, rather than just the final decision maker, you will close more deals.
Most marketers have identified the types of companies that can use their solutions and usually break this down into company size and industry. Where most marketers go wrong is by identifying a small subset of that criteria to determine what specific accounts they should be targeting. Usually this is driven by sales who are tasking marketers to find leads within these organizations because of their employee count or their revenues. Asking marketers to generate leads from accounts simply because of that company’s revenues is not the best approach.
With the intent data available to marketers these days, building out account lists based on size is no longer the best practice. Marketers should target their entire ICP, but the specific focus should be on organizations that are already exhibiting research or buying behavior.
Intent data can also be used to expand industry and company size saturation. For example, if you only sell into healthcare but intent data tells you that a lot of manufacturing companies are researching your solution, it could create an opportunity to expand your product into a new industry. Your CRO would certainly love that! Of course this has to fit within the realm of reality of your product or service, but you shouldn’t automatically discount other industries if the intent data is telling you otherwise.
In short, marketers should remember that targeting the entire buying committee will drastically increase the odds of starting a conversation with an account. Don’t limit your entry points to accounts with one or two titles when you can have 5-8 entry points to start a conversation. We all want to land the big account and marketers should certainly market to those types of prospects, but why not use intent data to gather the low-hanging fruit first? Prioritizing based on accounts that are actually in-market will shorten your sales cycle and get you closer to your revenue goal faster.