This is part one of a two part series that explains how being strategic in planning how you target customers will produce significantly better results on the back end. Part two can be found here, How to Build a Winning Ideal Customer Profile.
An Ideal Customer Profile is a process for identifying what customers you should be targeting to get the best return from your sales lead generation efforts. As an outsourcing sales organization this is one of the key areas we focus on when providing our initial sales consulting during the launch of a client. We believe this aspect of the sales process deserves careful attention because what goes into the sales funnel is going to have a huge impact on what comes out of the funnel. It is also the critical first step in building an aligned sales and marketing effort, so you can create a sales machine.
Ultimately, an Ideal Customer Profile should allow you to find and target your potential customers based on a number of hard criteria related to both the company and the specific decision maker:
- Annual revenue of the company
- Number of employees
- Level of Contact – C-level, senior Manager, middle manager
- Functional Area – business Area, technical Area
- Revenue Responsibility – budget maker or budget spender
- Geography – global, national, local
- Technology Adopted – in some cases knowing what ERP, CRM, and if they have virtualized may be critical
- Their Clients – e.g. are they doing business with a Procter and Gamble, Federal government, education (local gov.) Walmart, Intel, EMC etc.
In addition, there well could be some softer qualitative criteria:
- Business Pain/Need
- Vertical Industry Trend – established or in transition, growth or decline
- Competitive – large competitors or a volume of competitors
- Psychographics – company culture, leadership style, corporate values
It is also important to know who you don’t want to sell to:
- Decision makers whose jobs could be threatened
- Internal Support Functions – for example, if you are selling data analytics you may want to avoid MR groups, or if you are selling operational efficiency services you may want to stay away from operations managers and start with supply chain directors
The purpose of this type of hard and soft segmentation is to establish clear, hard criteria that can be leveraged across your sales and marketing machine to:
- Purchase direct dial contacts for cold calling
- Purchase direct mail and Electronic direct mail contact information
- Filter leads from publishers
- Leverage for a “Cost Per Click Campaign” like Google Adwords
- Decide where to place your online advertising budget
- Instruct your social media outreach program
We realize this can look like a daunting task. But, as an outsourcing sales organization with 10 years of data we can guarantee that if you give this the attention it deserves upfront, you will see significant returns within 6 -12 months. You will see exponential returns in months 12-18 when your first wave of nurturing deals start to fall out of your pipe as closed deals.
For additional information on how to build and Ideal Customer Profile, we recommend you check out our companion piece entitled, interestingly enough, How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile.