blog article
Tony J. Hughes
Tony J. Hughes
min read

Rather than waste time and precious resources, every business, marketer and salesperson needs to target potential customers based on how they match their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This is important because we all operate with a finite number of hours within which we can apply to the right activities with the right people. Finding alignment in product/market fit, and within windows of need or opportunity, is far more effective than seeking to 'raise the dead' or pounding away hoping that luck can overcome the law of low averages.

This is why targeting ICPs, and then knowing your buyer personas and engaging based on trigger events or trusted relationships, is so important. Combine them together and you can be a genuine top gun of your company.

But now, let's focus on your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). Firstly, you will filter and target ICP organisations based on geography and vertical. For example: local government on the West Coast, or tier-2 accounting practices in Sydney, or manufacturing companies in Bangalore. Once you've gated your search based on geography and vertical, you then filer and look for signs of life based on the following criteria:

• Firmographic: Number of employees, roles they are hiring, revenue, geographic coverage, their customers or markets, financial results (revenue and profit), share price, etc. Your best customers and new prospects are growing. Organisations in steady-state or decline are reluctant to embrace change unless you reduce costs or improve cash-flow. Customers in growth mode are seeking to improve efficiency, grow revenue, expand markets, drive loyalty, etc. Firmographics are to businesses and organisations what demographics are to people.

• Technographic: What technologies do they use? Analyse your customer-base and identify common technical attributes and tell-tail signs of probability for a successful sales campaign to win them. Which competitors do you ideally replace or augment. For example, many Sitecore (Web CMS) customers also use Salesforce (CRM), and many Taleo customer also use Alteryx. New Voice Media have a telephony platform that works best when integrated into To maximise return on time invested into prospecting, New Voice Media should segment on companies known to be  Salesforce users. Even if you don't sell technology, there will be interesting common stacks within your best customers... look for others who have the same attributes. There are apps  that do ‘lookalike’ analysis of you customers to highlight to commonalities you should be seeking in others.

• Psychographic: What is the company's likelihood to change or buy. The reality is that it's based on the above two factors plus the profile of leaders in decision-making roles. Are they in growth mode or steady-state where the status quo usually prevails? It a clever science and art to know someone's personality as it indicates their approach to decision-making and change. The organisation itself will have a mindset that manifest’s in their culture with things such as quality, growth, cost control, customer success, employee wellbeing, and much more.

Layered onto all of this we need to identify and track the windows of opportunity based on budget cycles, contract completion dates, technology refresh cycles, etc. It is important here to understand that no-one likes change... it's just a whole lot of work and risk. If you're seeking to break into new accounts, lead with a message of augment, leverage and improve what they have rather than a blood-curdling message of 'rip and replace'.

Finally, be laser-focused on their business case, or the commercial value, of change. There must be a big and serious problem to solve or massive goal they seek to achieve if people are to invest in change. This is why the mindset, or psychographics, plus other elements of ICP are so important.

At the end of the day, we need to apply our precious time a resources where there is the highest propensity to buy and where we can build a ‘point-of-view’ for engagement that is both aligned with individual and corporate drivers while being seen to demonstrably deliver improved outcomes faster and will lower risk. The best sellers feel free to ‘qualify out’ of opportunities that are not a good fit and don't  waste energy and time where there is low probability of success.

About Tony Hughes: Tony is a keynote speaker, best-selling author and award-winning blogger with 35 years of sales leadership experience. He consults to some of the best-known brands globally and has taught for The University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and University of New South Wales. Tony is also co-founder and Sales Innovation Director at Sales IQ Global.

About the author

Tony J. Hughes
Tony J. Hughes

Tony is a co-founder of Sales IQ, committed to elevating professional selling and sales leadership for a Better Business World.

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