Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile and Selecting the Right Target Accounts

“Measure twice, cut once” is a great maxim for carpenters. A single imprecise cut can cost you extra time, resources and product quality. By slowing down now, you can move faster later. This principle can also be applied to ABM. Making sure you’re going after the right accounts in the first place will make everything easier.

However, it requires marketers to take a different approach to marketing than what they’re used to. Traditionally, you started off with what you wanted to say (i.e., your offers and content), then you chose where you wanted to say it (i.e., the delivery channels), and lastly, you decided who you could say it to (i.e., your audience or segment). In ABM, you must start with your accounts. Once you decide that, only then can you move to your content, and lastly, you can decide which is the appropriate delivery channel.

When you start with WHO you are going after, everything else is easier. It’s the lead domino that will create a cascade of positive outcomes through the entire sales process.

Want to spend less time prospecting cold accounts? Start by selecting the right accounts. Want to have higher close rates? Start by selecting the right accounts. Want to close larger deals? Start by selecting the right accounts. Want to shorten your sales cycles? You guessed it – start by selecting the right accounts.

You get my point.

The first step in selecting the right target accounts is defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile and Conduct a Won Sales Analysis

Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a prototypical company that fits the profile for the solution or service offering that you are selling. It’s the ideal customer that would benefit from your offering and provide you with significant value in exchange.

Before we dive into how to do this, it’s important to note that you need the right people involved. ICP definition and target account selection isn’t just a job for Marketing – you must get buy-in and participation from your Sales and Customer Success counterparts. One person or department alone will not be able to answer these questions. It takes the collective wisdom of your entire customer-facing team. The added benefit of including other departments is also buy-in for the ICP, which is critical.

We recommend that Marketing owns and leads this exercise, as they are likely the most familiar and comfortable with it. However, it’s important that leadership from both Sales and Customer Success is involved as well. Each part of the org must have buy-in, give their sign-off and take ownership of the key accounts.

Is everyone at the table? Good. Onward!

Here are some factors to consider when defining your ICP:

  • What sector or sectors are you winning in?
  • Are there ‘look-alike’ segments similar to those you have success with now?
  • Alternately, what new markets are most important for your company to develop?
  • Are these markets growing?
  • What accounts will deliver the most value (including strategic value, advocates, referral sources, geographic presence)?

The output of your ICP should be a one-page document that clearly represents the type of companies you are targeting in your ABM efforts.

Another process that I’ve found very useful to complete alongside defining your ICP is completing a won sales analysis. Doing this will give you a strong advantage over your competition. In essence, you are taking your ICP to the next level.

This will be more involved and entail more manual work, but again, taking the time here will make the rest of your job easier. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the book, SHiFT by Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto. There are five stages of a won sales analysis: identify, find, close, improve, and classified.

Read The 5 Steps to Using the Won Sales Analysis for Selecting Accounts in ABM for a detailed walkthrough of the process.

By completing a won sales analysis, you’ll get more insight into events and triggers that bring you the best customers. You’ll understand what value you bring to customers (thus why they buy), and how you can close more deals.
This is just the tip of the iceberg if you want to choose the accounts that will close faster for larger deal sizes and stay customers longer.

That’s why we wrote an entire ebook around the topic: How to Select Your Target Accounts to Ignite Your ABM.

In this ebook, you’ll discover:

  • How to use firmographic, technographic, intent and engagement data to identify high-probability accounts
  • The power of predictive analytics to forecast the future
  • An equation to figure out how many accounts to target
  • A look into how Engagio and our top customers select accounts

Download the entire ebook How to Select Your Target Accounts to Ignite Your ABM here.

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Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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