Speaking to literally hundreds of Founders, CEOs, CROs, CMOs, and Revenue Operations leaders, one of the first things I ask is, “What is your ICP or Ideal Customer Profile”?
And so many times, the answers are vague, too broad, or unclear.
If you aren’t sure what companies need your product or offer, how do you expect those companies to know?
- Why having the right ICP defined is critical to revenue growth and retention
- What are organizations doing wrong when it comes to ICP definition
- What can you do TODAY to improve your ICP definition
[Transcript] What’s Wrong With Your Definition of ICP
Rosalyn, we’re very excited to have you, and your session is going to be around ICP and what’s wrong with the definition. The stage is yours!
Rosalyn Santa Elena
All right. Thank you. Well, so welcome, welcome everyone, and thank you, Armando. Thank you, Tory and the Breadcrumbs team, for the opportunity to be here today, really sharing a bit about a topic that’s a passion area for me.
Your ICP, right? Or your ideal customer profile.
Can you guys see my next screen? Perfect. Okay, so my name is Rosalyn Santa Elena, as Armando introduced me, and I am the founder and Chief Revenue Operations Officer at the RevOps Collective.
So we are a go-to-market and RevOps consulting, coaching, and community company really focused on unleashing the power of revenue operations for organizations but also for individuals.
So prior to starting this business, I’ve been a longtime RevOps practitioner. You know, really before we called it RevOps, leading teams and almost a dozen different companies over the past 20-plus years. In fact, I started out in technology, on the finance side, before PCs or personal computers were even a thing.
I mean, literally, I logged into a terminal at a little DOS prompt. So, I’ve been around for a bit, and definitely excited to be here.
So, in my line of work, I have the opportunity to speak to dozens and dozens of companies. Founders, CEOs, CMOs, CROs, and of course, RevOps folks.
But I often see the same challenge when I ask, “What is your ideal customer profile?”. And it really just blows my mind a bit because oftentimes, companies are not really sure, or they say something that’s a little bit broad or very broad, or it’s vague.
Like maybe it’s just, “Oh, my ICP is B2B SaaS companies”, and it feels like companies are often confusing TAM, your Total Addressable Market with an ICP, or who that ideal customer is.
And so, your ICP at an account level should be the best, most likely-to-buy accounts for your product or your offering. And these are the accounts that are, really, the no-brainer. They have a need for your product or offering because you solve real problems for them and really help them achieve those critical objectives that they’re striving for, or you’re solving pain and real issues for them.
And oftentimes, ICP is just not being defined. Again, it’s vague, it’s unclear. Or it’s just too broad where you take this kind of spray-and-pray approach in your go-to-market versus having really focused, targeted programs where you can clearly measure how effective and how accurate you are in your assumptions.
And I also see companies wasting time, wasting resources, wasting money on the wrong accounts, oftentimes with a very irrelevant message. I mean, how many times have you received an email or a call trying to sell you something that has absolutely nothing to do with you or your business?
When I think about being a RevOps leader in prior companies, I’ve had companies try to sell me office supplies, trying to sell me hand sanitizer during the pandemic, selling me security, developer outsourcing resources, and all types of things, products, and services that are completely unrelated to what I do.
Hot Takes Live
Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.
These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).
And so companies are not only wasting time and wasting money. Think about their brand and their reputation, because what kind of impression does that leave on me or leave on you, or leave on your prospect, right?
They’re thinking like, “Hmm, these folks need a better go-to-market strategy. They need to define their ICP, and they probably could use some RevOps help.”
So what are companies doing wrong, and why should they even care? I mean, too many companies do not understand who their ideal customer is, and why should you spend time on defining and understanding that?
I mean, think about it. If you don’t understand who should be buying your product or your services, how can you tell or convince a prospective buyer why they should care and why they should be buying?
So really understanding who that right customer is, ensures that all of your downstream initiatives, your processes, all the activities, your campaigns, your account plans, all of those things that encompass your go-to-market overall, need to be focused and can be designed towards acquiring those customers.
The right customers. The right customers who will not only purchase, but they’re gonna stay with you. They’re gonna renew with you, and in the SaaS world, they’re gonna expand with you.
So all of your content, your collateral, your messaging, your website, and your outbound activities, how you segment your territory plans, books of business targets, quotas, and everything else kind of begins right with that, understanding who those customers are that you’re trying to target.
And then you can build all of those things in a way that’s focused and targeted to the folks that you want to reach. And the folks that are most likely to buy.
So when you think about it, especially in a market like today where budgets are being tightened, everybody’s being asked to do more or, as I like to say, do better with less. You just cannot afford to spend time or money on activities that are not going to yield the best results.
We have to be focused. We have to spend where we have the best likelihood of success.
And when you have that right ICP definition, it means that you are spending time there, but also you’re able to measure and see what you’re actually doing. When you’re targeting this very broad market, it’s difficult even to see what’s working and what’s not.
So having that right ICP definition means that all of your teams, from marketing to sales, to post-sales, to customer success, everybody is aligned. Not only are they aligned in marching towards the same goals, but they have the right tools and the right information to be successful in their roles.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet
Learn how to create an Ideal Customer Profile and build a successful sales strategy with this Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet.
So how does having this well-defined ICP help enable your strategy and optimize that execution that we all want in your business?
I think, for all the reasons we’ve discussed so far, but really just to highlight and reiterate, that when you have this well-defined ICP, you’re really helping your potential customers and buyers understand why they should care.
Why do they need your offering, and why do they need your product or your service? How is your product or offering going to help them be successful? Help them achieve their goals and help them overcome their challenges. Or solve some pain that they’re feeling.
And then you can be laser-focused on that messaging and everything around building that messaging to help your potential customers understand that.
And again, having a well-defined IPC, helps you focus, focus, focus, right? Helping you focus your resources. Things that we don’t have a lot of, like time, money, right people. We just don’t have enough resources, and so you need to focus your resources on the right programs, the right processes, the right activities, and all those right actions that are going to yield the best results.
It’s all about outcomes. We talk a lot about process and all the things that need to happen in your end-to-end kind of revenue funnel. But at the end of the day, it’s about outcomes. It’s about results. And you want to improve and have the best likelihood of success from a revenue perspective,
And with this downturn market, this is just so much more critical than ever before to be efficient, but even more importantly, to be more effective. So not only you wanna be efficient, you’ve got to be effective.
And so lastly, I think having that well-defined ICP ensures again that you acquire the right customers.
The ones that are going to realize value, and they’re gonna benefit from your product and service. They’re gonna realize and achieve that return on investment faster, which means that they’re likely to not only stay with you but grow with you. Which is what we all want, especially in SaaS.
We want net dollar retention, right? We want to retain and grow.
My key takeaway and this is actually my quote, having a well-defined ICP to me is the launching point for revenue growth. It’s the launching point for retention, and it’s that launching point for success.
And now, if you’re looking for some help with your ICP definition, you can tell I’m very passionate about it. I’m excited about it, and I believe in it. So feel free to reach out, book a free consultation, and see if we can help you.
Thank you, Rosalyn. I particularly care about your session and your topic; it’s surprising and baffling to me how of a poor job most companies, even later-stage mature organizations, do at their definition of ICP. Would you agree that’s mostly the case by and large?
Rosalyn Santa Elena
Yes, I do agree because I think oftentimes folks forget also that it’s iterative; you should constantly be iterating on that ICP and improving it.
Like it came from the founders or based on some other anecdotal data, they did a survey on 100 people, and now they have a hundred thousand customers, and they don’t know, and they’re not looking for it. So what’s a good way of either getting started or changing that?
Rosalyn Santa Elena
I think getting started, the idea is to focus and start small.
Yes, you want to sell to everybody, and I think that’s the kind of mindset that they worry about “I might miss out on somebody if I don’t target them,” but it’s not about trying to sell to everyone. It’s about trying to figure out who you should be targeting.
It doesn’t mean that if somebody outside of your ICP comes around and wants to buy, of course, you’re going to sell to them if you can support them. Still, the idea is to focus on “Okay, who are those best customers?” and to test, like anything in business, we’re always A/B testing; we’re always trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Then from there, as you acquire new customers, ask your customers, look at the customers that you do have that are successful and what are those characteristics of that client or that account that you know why did they buy from you, what made them buy from you and why do they stay with you?
I always tell folks that, especially for companies that leave you, it’s even more important or equally important, if not more important, to understand why they leave because it was something that could have been done differently in your process, your implementation, or your services or is it that they were never a good fit, to begin with?
All of that information needs to feed back into the top of the funnel as you continue to iterate, so I think there’s a sense of worry that “Oh, if I don’t target everyone, then I might miss out on a sale.”
The ICP allows you to be specific with regard to the messaging; the clearer you have an ICP definition, the more you can be intentional, personal, interesting, and maybe memorable with your ICP.
Rosalyn Santa Elena
That’s right, and you’re talking to that account, you’re messaging to them, and it needs to resonate. I tell you, half the outreach I get has nothing to do with me. They reach out and say, “Oh, we see you’re hiring” It’s like, no, I’m not hiring. And I see a lot of that. I’ve actually been at companies where they actually try to sell me what we sell.
Which is like not super smart. Megan from the chat is saying, “Ensuring they become brand ambassadors for you, not detractors, is also valuable,” which I absolutely agree with.
Rosalyn Santa Elena
I think another part of the problem here when it comes to the ICP definition is that most operators think that ICP it’s kind of a static thing, one and done, but the reality is that it’s not that; it’s the current definition of ICP based on the currently available data for the specific region that you’re thinking about.
So as you get more data, it might evolve; if you’re thinking about different regions or different moments in time for the same region, it might be different. Would you agree with that?
Rosalyn Santa Elena
Yes, 100%. And like anything else, it’s iterative; you’ve got to put that learning back into the process because otherwise, it can quickly become stale.
Like you said, who is your ICP today with the market shifting? I think about three years ago when the pandemic hit, and now, all of a sudden, you’re targeting different accounts and trying to be more focused. Not only that, but you’re also targeting personas within each account differently.
And it might be the market, it might be you, it might be your customers, it might be competitors, it might be that someone is coming to play in your own playground, and now you have to react to that and cater to a slightly different type of customers with a slightly different type of messaging as a reaction.
Rosalyn, thank you so very much.
Rosalyn Santa Elena
Thanks for having me, of course.
And thanks everyone for watching.