The ideal customer profile (ICP) outlines the firmographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral aspects of customers that are projected to become the most valued customers for a corporation. It is generated by a combination of qualitative and quantitative B2B customer analysis.
Unlike the expression “target customer,” which is frequently used to refer to any business that may purchase a product or service, the ICP focuses on the most valuable customers and potential customers who are also the most likely to purchase. The ICP should also not be mistaken with the total addressable market, which is estimations or computations of the amount of prospective target customers.
Definition of ICP — Ideal customer profile
The ICP is a critical tool that has an impact on B2B sales and marketing initiatives. It focuses marketing, sales, customer support, and executive teams on the most valuable accounts.
B2B ideal customer profile focuses attention on repeatable and scalable techniques and approaches for engaging and converting top accounts. Additionally, it is responsible for the establishment of target account lists, segmentation, organizational structure, and other critical functions.
Each industrial supplier’s industry segment, products, and commercial perspective differ from each other. Therefore, do not ignore B2B customer analysis while generating an ICP for your marketing strategy. Consider various situations that you may face. You may remarkably improve your ICP by adding your personal opinions and experiences.
Customer analysis of existing valuable customers
The first step of generating an accurate ICP is evaluating existing customers who get remarkable value from your products. First, identify your customers who love to use your products and benefit from them more than your average customers. Those are your high-value customers for the customer analysis data.
This value is a fruitful association established between your company and the customer. Make a list of your ten most valuable customers. By the way, this strategy only will work as long as you have some high-value customers. I assume —and hope— that you already have!
7 questions to ask while conducting customer data analysis
First, list all the basic characteristics of your top ten high-value customers.
- Annual revenue
- Number of employees
- Decision-making factors
When you write details of the given attributes, you may notice that you are missing some information. Don’t worry. You can ask customers in the interview phase. Here are samples of potential customer attributes generated using the top ten high-value customer analysis data.
Then, start getting answers for the following questions
1. Describe your ideal customer in one sentence
This is an open-ended inquiry designed to elicit real responses using real-world examples. For instance, “industrial manufacturers with more than 20 production engineers that have installed an industrial automation system over the last year” or “annual contract value of $1 million or more with items with 40%+ revenue growth”
2. What characteristics define an ideal customer?
Use the firmographic data for B2B customer analysis such as personnel count, size, annual revenue, and industry segment. For instance, manufacturing businesses with 1,000+ employees and over $100 million in revenue that are headquartered in Germany. Using firmographics is a good way of conducting customer segmentation analysis.
3. What are their primary goals?
Understand the business motivations of the ideal customer. What are the customer needs and problems? For instance, they must safeguard sensitive client data or they desire to have a global customer base.
4. What is the ideal customer’s infrastructure or operating environment?
The term current infrastructure refers to the technology, processes, and organizational structure that exist today. For instance, machine learning systems or industry 4.0 applications.
5. What are the primary purchasing triggers that motivate these valuable customers to act?
To conduct this B2B customer behavior analysis, you should know the significant occurrences that encourage B2B customers to implement internal changes. For instance, “international expansion,” “recently expanded recruiting,” and “acquisitions.”
6. What are the primary reasons customers choose not to purchase from you?
You should analyze the status of the current progress of the client. For example, perfect satisfaction provided by recent suppliers or no problems to handle are examples of sales barriers that hinder an account’s fit with the ICP.
7. What characterizes an account that we are not able to sell to? Why?
You must know the customers that are unworkable. For instance, “If they purchased XX equipment within the last twelve months, they will not purchase any products from us.”
A sample B2B customer analysis data
|High-Value Customer Attributes|
|Industry||Commodity chemical companies manufacturing polymers and petrochemicals|
|Geography||EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa)|
|Annual Revenue||More than $20,000,000|
|Number of employees||More than 5,000 employees with at least three manufacturing facilities|
|Customer base||Channels used: Exclusive distributors and agents
Direct sales to Government institutions
|Facilities/Offices||At least three fully-equipped manufacturing facilities|
*This indicates the minimum required budget for the purchase of your products
|Decision-Making Factors||– The initial evaluation is made by a procurement team comprising technical, finance, and administrative staff
– CEO and VP of Purchasing are the final decision-makers
How to collect additional data for B2B customer analysis
Get an appointment with each of your high-value customers to discuss their experience with your products and company. According to their location, you can visit or call them. It’s your decision, but I always prefer in-person meetings. The purpose here is to understand their procurement process for an accurate B2B customer analysis.
Here are a few questions you can ask to learn more about them:
- How much research do they conduct before purchase?
- How did they discover your company and products?
- Do they have a procurement team?
- If they have, who is involved in their procurement team?
- Who is the final decision-maker?
- Why did they decide to purchase your product at first?
- Do they proceed to use your products?
- If yes, why?
- If not, what went wrong?
And here we come to the pain points.
- What are their major problems that need to be solved?
- What is their primary problem that affects their operations?
- What solution does your product provide to which of their problems?
Try to take answers to all of these questions. Collect as much information as you can to benefit your B2B customer analysis. Valuable customer info is accurate data from actual industrial companies, not based on estimations. Gathering data from current valuable customers defines the ideal customer attributes. Those attributes comprise a basis for the Ideal Customer Profile.