You need an ICP for outbound
If you have spent even a little time thinking about what kind of customer you want to sell to, you have probably made an ideal customer profile or ICP. That’s great! ICPs provide a huge insight into who you want to target.
You can learn more about ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and get a template so you can make your own by checking out our article Ideal customer profile: How to make one
But think of your ICP like memorizing times tables in math class. The information is important but abstract. I mean when do you need to know what 13×4 is? On a test? No. You need it when you are in the store trying to figure out how much 4 bottles of table wine at $13 a pop, will cost for your next dinner party.
In the same way, the information you have in your ICP is essential to optimizing your outbound sales process. So how can you take the abstract information in your ICP and practically apply it to a successful outbound sales campaign? There are a few places where your ICP can be useful such as:
- Qualifying leads
- Closing sales
- Providing support and upselling
Basically, your ICP will supercharge every part of the sales funnel. Pretty cool, eh? So how does it all work? Your ICP allows you to choose which customers you want to sell to. I know that sounds a bit worrying to somebody starting out. After all, you are trying to get as much revenue as you can. It would be counter-intuitive to try and limit the scope of the customers you want to attract. In our experience, that is not the case at all. Consider these points:
- You have a finite number of resources to pursue leads
- Every minute you spend selling to a dead end is a minute you could spend actually closing a deal
- Landing a good customer should give you the time and money to focus on improving your business
Does that convince you? Good, let’s get to work.
Let’s first start with the prospecting process. This is where you first start choosing who your customers are. Therefore it naturally lends itself to having a clearly defined ICP. After all, you are looking for customers who match the exact profile you have put together. Let’s think about how prospecting works. Your SDR searches for somebody who might want your product. So how do they know who to search for? That is where your ICP comes in. One of our SDRs Boris described it like this
We look at a company’s website and go down the list. Is the vertical good? Check. Does it have a wide scope? Check. It starts out as a list but after a few months, it just becomes intuition.
The process that Boris described hinges on the ICP. What is true is that you only get so much information from the website. To get more, check out a prospecting tool like ours which allows you to search by exact location, vertical, position, company, size, and technology used. Whichever way you find your prospects, try and compare the information you have with your ICP. For instance, one of our ICPs includes
- B2B SaaS companies in North America
- sized between 11 and 50 people
When we prospect, we are able to avoid putting resources into companies which don’t match these criteria. We can then just focus on finding the right companies to fit our ICP.
Once you have the prospect, you need to send them your outreach email. A good cold email explains how you can provide value to your potential customer. All of that comes from your ICP. Since you have targeted this customer based on a specific set of criteria, you can predict what kind of value you would provide them with. It makes writing your cold email a cinch and will increase the rate at which you get a positive response. As you can see, the ICP becomes more useful as you gain more information. So just think how useful it will be when you interact with your customer.
The process of qualifying leads is all about finding new information. Up until this point, you have had to go on the information that has been made public. A lot of this can be matched to the information that you have in your ICP, but these are the empirical qualities like the size of the company or the vertical that they operate in. When you qualify, you get to learn about some of the more subjective qualities that make an ideal customer. These include the intention to buy, the ability to make the purchase, and how demanding the customer is. These are all important factors to place in your ICP. After all, a perfect candidate who does not have the authority to purchase your product is not all that perfect.
Is it possible to target somebody who is not a decision maker and still have success?
Absolutely. There is a strategy whereby you get somebody interested in becoming an evangelist, who proselytizes to the decision makers in their company.
While you qualify your leads, you are positioning yourself for the sale. This is another chance to compare your red flags to the red flags found in your ICP. For instance, you can find out if the company has the funds or inclination to purchase your product. If one of your red flags is having to wait for funding, then this is the time to professionally disengage with the sale. Since you know who your ideal customer is, you can always restart the process in the future if the situation changes.
Speaking of which, this is the perfect opportunity to gauge if you arrived at a unique turning point that your product is ripe to exploit. As we have discussed, an ideal customer is not ideal forever. You might not be able to make a sale to a customer who is operating normally. When they are making or experiencing a change of some kind, you are then we take advantage of the situation.
Think of your ICP as a crib sheet on your customer. If you have positioned yourself correctly, matching information about your ICP with your customers up until this point in the process, you will find yourself in a strong position. The first point about this is that you should have the best possible lead you can have. You have spent your time up until now ensuring that the customer you are talking to is perfectly matched for your product. Just don’t forget though that there is usually after sales to think about. By comparing the customer who you are making a sale to to your ICP, you can evaluate what sort of problems to anticipate further down the line. You will also know what pain points you can alleviate for that particular customer and essentially what to pitch them on.
Providing support and upselling
Support is unique in that it is both a part of your product and part of your sales process. As always, you, ICP can come in handy for both functions. Since you have already anticipated the pain points that your customer faces, you have the opportunity to preempt then with targeted support. The other side of the coin is the sales role that your customer success team is engaged in. By predicting the needs of the customer, they can sharpen the point on the solution you provide. They can predict how your customer will respond in different situations and will be perfectly positioned to upsell when the time is right.
The beauty of knowing your customer
Your ICP is a result of data and intuition. Think of it as a tool to guide your outbound campaign, but don’t forget. It is a living document and will evolve as you get more information about your clients. So put together your ICP today. You can then use it as a framework for your next outbound campaign.