Why and How: Building An Ideal Customer Profile For B2B Lead Generation
Clone your best customers by knowing who they are.
Sales managers know that customers and prospects are important — but not equally so. Customer acquisition is a tough game. It’s true. Don’t you wish you had more opportunities to land valuable prospects?
Well, there’s a question that begs to be answered. Are you casting a really wide net?
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Or maybe you’re not targeting prospects who are just like your best customers?
Again, not all prospects are created equal. Each company’s ideal customer has different characteristics, a different set of traits that define each of them.
You’ve probably already asked yourself what your best customer is like. You probably have thought up some answers to it too. Well, that’s not enough.
Today, client data help answer our questions with precision. You no longer have to rely solely on intuition and instincts to solve the mysteries of your sales performance.
Targeting your best customers
Convincing higher-ups to shift from a wide-net strategy to marketing to a very targeted subset can prove to be a challenge. But like having numbers to guide all your sales and marketing efforts, there are also numbers that show highly-targeted marketing campaigns perform well.
Customer Acquisition vs Customer Retention
It’s a well-documented comparison. What costs more: getting new customers or retaining your existing ones?
IBM reported that it costs five times more to get a new customer than to keep one. That solves it, right? A fleet of brand-loyal, happy customers is the key to a fledgling business. However, a lot of the efforts of an organization is usually poured into continuously generating high-quality leads.
Ask any marketer. They’re going to say that their top goal is to generate high-quality leads, through and through, for their companies. There is nothing wrong with this and is very understandable — especially for a company that’s in a stage where they are pushing for rapid growth.
That said, customer acquisition should never push retention efforts aside. This is very important. We take into consideration that growth is crucial. The question that begs to be answered is this: should customer acquisition be the overarching theme of a growth campaign?
That said, a growth marketing campaign treated tactically is a mistake. Instead, both methods and goals should coincide with a company’s strategic plan. Growth shouldn’t stop at customer acquisition.
Growth is about getting in more users, yes, but a big component that determines the success of a growth campaign is a sustained, solid revenue jump.
Like Influitive said, “The key to increasing sales and outpacing your competition lies with your existing customers.”
So, if you’re still shortsightedly pouring all your resources into onboardnig new clients and getting the numbers up without considering retention matters, you’re not optimizing your efforts.
Focusing on targeting a certain segment of the market to generate and attract leads will not only help you polish your marketing, it will also ensure that the clients partnership you gain from your marketing and sales operations will have a better rate of success.
Keeping the best type of customers begin with acquiring them
This is where the ideal customer profile comes in. You need an ideal customer profile. One that describes and encapsulates the company that would benefit from your services and/or products and likewise provide benefit to you.
There are many reasons to create an ideal customer profile but for this post, we will focus on creating it to generate high-quality, precisely-targeted B2B leads.
Let’s start by defining what we’re going to build.
What is an Ideal Customer Profile?
It’s a full description of a fictitious business, agency, or organization that gets immense value from your product or service while also providing your company with significant value.
It’s the profile of a hypothetical customer that has the perfect/optimal symbiotic relationship with your company.
This is a customer that you’d hate to lose. You take care of them — whether you like or you’re forced to — because you two are a great fit.
Building an Ideal Customer Profile
STEP 1: Gather client data
Pool together all information you have on your existing customers.
This step has two purposes. The first is to identify who your strongest customers are in terms of the value they bring to you.
Gather as much information as you can and put them in a sheet. Drill down the numbers. What is the cost of acquiring certain customers versus the revenue they pull in. How many referrals have they made for you? How much revenue have they pulled in by extension? What is their position of influence in their market and vertical?
Also, identify patterns through the basic classificatory data you have on them. What is the background of the decision makers? What is the location, size of the company, nature, stage of the business?
The second is to go over the data you have and see if there are information gaps. It’s best to always keep your records in top shape. Spot typos, missing information, wrong data, updates and other important things to review.
STEP 2: Describe your clients
Use the data to understand who your ideal customer is. Pinpoint similarities and patterns based on the following points:
Demographics — company size, company vertical, number of employees, revenue
Culture and Organization — company customs, traditions, branding, what they’re known for
Behavior — buying patterns, time elapsed between touches, prior and current objections, concerns
Looking at the overlapping information, you can get the idea what your ideal client looks like. Do not let your assumptions guide you. Instead, aim to be as objective as possible. Use numbers. Analyze the transactions and contracts.
But, of course, being objective doesn’t mean just relying on quantitative data. Pool together the key people in your company and ask them questions about your existing clients.
Steli Efti of Close.io has a very thorough list of questions on his own guide to creating an ideal customer profile.
Here are some of them.
What’s the number one reason that would prevent them from buying your solution?
What’s the number one reason that would make them decide to buy your solution?
What makes your offer appealing to them?
What goal do they want to achieve with your solution?
How are they currently trying to achieve this goal?
Why did they decide to try this approach? What was the decision-making process that led to this choice?
What’s the main pain point with their current approach?
STEP 3: Identify the best clients
This company should cover most of your bases. You have a great relationship with them. You value their business as much as they value yours. They have no issues on budget — your pricing and their budget are properly aligned.
BrainRider.com has an excellent worksheet that guides you through identifying your best clients against those who come close.
Using a circular stack chart where the best clients are represented by the innermost circle, they show a visual representation of where best clients are found in your client base.
The best clients are represented by the ideal customer circle which is inside by the next best customer circle. Both circles are inside the opportunistic customer circle.
Opportunistic customers are those who keep a transactional relationship with you. They have no affinity with your company or your brand. They just buy from you since the price is right. The moment a cheaper alternative comes along, they’ll have no qualms switching. They’re not emotionally invested in your company — just taking advantage of the opportunity at hand.
BrainRider’s chart includes fields you must be able to answer to ensure that you’re hitting the nail on the head.
Ideal customer circle:
Ideal company size?
Number of employees? Yearly revenue? Number of offices or locations?
Any mandatory prerequisite business conditions?
Number of web development team members? Uses Pardot, SFDC & WordPress?
Any ideal customer industries?
High-tech, software, retail, infosec, real estate.
Any precipitating events or corporate life events that commonly occur before customers decide to work with you?
Companies who have made an executive commitment to improving customer service
Who is involved in the buying decision?
Decision-maker: Sales VP
Other stakeholders: IT, Procurement
Next to ideal customer circle
Identify the attributes that stay the same and those that change.
How big is the change?
Which attributes bump an ideal customer to a next best customer?
Budget, company size, vertical, internal capabilities?
Opportunistic customer circle
Which attributes bump a next best customer to an opportunistic customer?
You shouldn’t necessarily build your marketing tactics to reach this group since opportunistic buyers will by-and-large turn out to be unqualified leads whose pursuit wastes marketing resources.
Using these guide questions, you can further laser-target who your ideal customer is.
STEP 4: Write down the ideal customer profile
If you’ve done well condensing and chopping down information to a concise profile, you won’t have much to think about writing your ideal customer profile. It will have basic information like company size, nature of the company, among others.
Create a template that can be easily updated and make it a part of your marketing and sales planning. But don’t get tied in with the template. Make sure to always be open to adding fields and updating as you go.
But that’s just the first part.
You’ve identified the key decision makers in your ideal customer’s company. Now the task is to flesh out those personas into supporting buyer personas under your ideal customer profile.
According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
Create buyer personas for each decision maker in your ideal customer’s company. Fill the personas with details that answer the individual counterpart of the questions we ask on a company level.
STEP 5: Identify where they are and start targeted lead generation campaigns
Now that you have a full description of what type of customers you should and will be getting, go to where the decision makers are and start making your presence felt in the channels where they are. You can now use targeted content and techniques to make sure you’re getting on their good side and that you’re adding value to them. Then, as long as your marketing and sales strategy fits the personas and ideal customer profile, you can watch as the leads pour in.
About the Author
Patrick Hogan is a Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Tenfold where this article was originally published.
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