“What makes a customer a perfect fit?”
The answer to that question makes up your ideal customer profile (ICP)—a hypothetical description of the type of company that would benefit from your product or service.
As simple as that sounds, defining an ICP is difficult.
Attributes like company size, industry vertical, and location only tell you a tiny part of the story. Most ICPs aren’t designed to tell you which customer is more likely to buy, defeating the entire purpose.
And then there’s the problem with relying on early customer feedback or intuition to define the ICP. Without a data-driven approach, teams start drifting in different directions trying to meet their specific goals instead of focusing on common business outcomes.
Taking a systematic data-driven approach is key to defining your ICPs. We’ll explain how B2B companies create ideal customer profiles and share templates so you can create one that gets you results.
Ideal Customer Profile: What it means in practice
An ICP in the B2B world isn’t just a collection of attributes that represent the ideal company. It’s an overview of the type of company that’s most likely to convert, stay engaged and recommend you to other companies.
It’s important to create a profile that’s backed by customer data and tailored to each product. You also need to include specific attributes and trigger events that lead a customer to the product.
For instance, when a company raises its Series A round, they’re more likely to move away from an ad hoc solution and find a product that can support fast growth. If customer data shows that prospects that’ve recently received funding realize more value, it’s probably worth adding to your ICP definition.
Here’s an example of what you could include in your ICP:
How to create a data-driven ICP for B2B companies (that everyone can buy into)
There isn’t one perfect way to define your ICP.
But that doesn’t mean developing your ICP should be an exhausting and chaotic process. It should serve as a strategic plan to acquire more ideal customers, cut down sales cycles and generate more revenue.
And that requires two things—taking a data-driven approach and getting a company-wide buy-in.
Read Next: Ideal Customer Profile for B2B: Create ICP in 5 Steps
Step 1: Figure out the “why”
Gain clarity on each team’s use case for an ICP. For instance, marketing may want to run ABM campaigns while sales may want to identify high-fit prospects faster.
You need to collectively decide on a central ICP definition that can extend into each of those use cases.
Step 2: Gather data
An ideal customer looks different to every team.
Involve product, sales, marketing and customer success teams to gather valuable datapoints on the “perfect customer” so you have a through understanding of a successful customer from the moment they enter the funnel till they become a super engaged user.
Step 3: Check your biases
Remove any data points that can skew your input data. For instance, you might find that 30% of your prospects aren’t a good fit. You’ll need to adjust the weightage of the data in the model you’re building.
Step 4: Enrich your data
The data you have doesn’t give you a comprehensive view of the ideal customer. You’ll need to use data enrichment platforms to add more attributes like “funding”, “technology stack” on a company level and “title” and “seniority” on a person level.
Step 5: Get company-wide buy-in
Ask everyone to weigh in on the new ICP definition and see if any additional data sets have to be included for the definition to work company-wide. For example, sales might find it useful to filter prospects by technology stack and marketing may want to know which leads to target based on website traffic.
3 Real-Life Ideal Customer Profile Examples
If you’re still unsure of what the end result should look like, here are 3 real-life examples of how you can define your ICP(s):
Here’s how Gitlab defined its Enterprise and Mid-market ICPs for FY22:
Enterprise / Large ICP (FY22)
Mid-Market ICP (FY22)
You can also check out the ICP development process they used to arrive at these definitions. Here’s a quick overview:
1. Data collection
- Created an initial list of attributes
- Identified a team to develop ICP
- Conducted ICP survey
- Gathered data sources
2. Data analysis
- Determined the top attributes - qualititative and quantitative
- Prioritized attributes into nice to have and must have
- Confirmed core and additional criteria for account based strategy
3. ICP buy-in
- Finalized the definition
- Updated all the teams
4. Yearly ICP review
- Review quantitative data from accounts closed in the last year
- Feedback from ICP team
- See if product advancements require changes in ICP
Here’s a target audience profile Cognism used in the past:
#3. The Five Abilities
The Five Abilities, a sales coaching and consulting company, came up with this ICP definition (and scoring methodology) to figure out if the client was a good fit for them and who was more likely to convert soon.
3 Free Ideal Customer Profile Templates You can Use
We’ve rounded up 3 free ICP templates that are comprehensive, proven and will make it easy for you to create your ICP:
Andrei Zinkevich, Co-founder of Fullfunnel.io offers a proven ideal customer profile template, ICP checklist and in-depth questionnaire for customer interviews.
Here’s a quick glimpse of what it looks like:
And you can click here to get access to all those free resources.
Cognism offers this free template you can copy into your editor of choice and use instantly:
Close offers comprehensive templates for both B2B product and service companies. Here’s the link to the SaaS ICP kit that you can edit to create your own.
Don’t go too wide with your ICP
The entire purpose of developing and defining an ICP is to have the entire organization become laser focused and close more deals with high-fit, high-quality leads.
But there’s undeniable pressure on teams — especially sales and marketing — to consistently improve the quality and volume of the pipeline. And that leads to them expanding the definition to have more accounts they can target.
Unfortunately, it creates a catch-22 situation. If you go too wide, the quality of your outreach will suffer and you’ll be right back where you started.
A good rule of thumb — target accounts that match your ICP should be less than 10% of your TAM.
But if you’re feeling the heat and want a data-driven approach to find perfect-fit prospects with limited resources, Primer can help.
We help you identify specific intent data attributes and events that correlate to a pain point your product solves. And then use those to build tight audience segments you can activate across channels.
The result? You’ll start seeing improvements in your ToFu conversion rates without overextending your budget or yourself.
Want to spend less and get better leads? Start using Primer to unlock hyper-precise targeting.