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ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)- It’s Sales Leader’s Responsibility to Explicitly Define ICP for His/Her Frontline Sales/Marketing Team.

I have come across umpteen no. of entrepreneurs and sales leaders who expect their sales/ inside sales team to go figure out their ICP and win new customers.

In many small & medium companies, sales professionals are in early phase of their career. With their limited experience / knowledge level, it’s not prudent to expect them to identify right target segment. Its management’s responsibility to clearly define “ICP” for their frontline sales/marketing/inside-sales team.

I equate ICP to a “Field of Play’ or “Boundaries’ we all define whenever we play an outdoor sport. ( eg. Cricket/Football etc). Boundaries clearly tell us – that players are supposed to play inside this and the play area within these boundaries would remain the focus of our sports activities.

The same is true for ICP. It should be the focus of all our Proactive sales/marketing efforts. There may be opportunities that the sales team may still receive ( they are known as Reactive opportunities) which may fall outside the Selling Organization’s ICP. The sales team can take a call on a case-to-case basis whether they want to pursue them or not. However proactive efforts should be solely on the Selling Organization’s ICP segment/accounts.

I initially thought that ICP must be getting followed almost by every organization. However, my last few year’s experiences of working with Sales leaders/founders made me realize that – many companies, unfortunately don’t have clear ICP defined for their products/services.

 

Let me give an example of ICP for one of our services – “Sales Recruitment” where we help our customers close their “sales positions”.

ICP should be easy to understand, and it should be written from your frontline sales/marketing colleague’s point of view. Eventually, they are the ones who would be reaching out to the prospects via email/call/Linkedin etc.

Coming back to my example – Our “Sales Recruitment” ICP is defined as –

(1) Technology & telecom companies

(2) With either > 300 employees and less than 5000 employees OR > 10 member sales team

(3) Who want to close sales positions for India region.

(4). CTC should be > 9 Lacs P.a

 

So, anything outside the above should not be the focus of the frontline team. They should focus their efforts to only those companies who fit into above criteria. Once a company is in their ICP, sales team should go aggressive to pursue them. Even clients would find value as over time, sales organization would have multiple customer references, best practices of the same vertical.

Your first cut ICP should have clarity on the following :

Criteria

Details

Remarks

Revenue of the target company

Minimum :

Maximum :

We need to be true to ourselves. All of us have our sweet spot customer segments. Below which - we don’t want to work and Above which - we may not be good enough

Employee size of the Company

Minimum :

Maximum :

We need to be true to ourselves. All of us have our sweet spot customer segments. Below which - we don’t want to work and Above which - we may not be good enough

Geography

Be as specific as possible. Avoid statements such as - all countries can be my market

Vertical

Be as specific as possible. Avoid statements such as - all verticals are my market

Any other criteria's

Few Ex : ( You can create your own criteria) Company should be dealing with a specific product line. Operations team should be > X no. of employees.


Target company should have > X no of Y machines. Segment/Accounts your competition is present.

Ideal ICP has mix of Demographics + Psychographics + Technographics + few more.

However, my view is – one should first start with demographics, and give 1st level of clarity to the frontline sales team. It’s like understanding the “basics of Mathematics” well, before we were taught Algebra & Geometry, during our school days.

Once 1st phase is done, leaders can further improvise the ICP by bringing “Psychographics” and other categories.

I read it somewhere – “Direction is more important than speed”.

ICP should be the direction of all Sales efforts. Or else sales team will move into wrong customer accounts/segment. This will eventually not help Sales Organization grow to its optimum scale.

 

I suggest my customers – to bring sanity to following 3 items if you want to transform your sales culture.

  1. Define clear ICP
  2. Enable team with clear criteria for “Opportunity Qualification”
  3. Bring in meeting preparation culture.

All above are very much executable and in 3 months, once can see a significant change in Sales DNA.

If you want to have a call with me to understand more, will be happy to share my learnings.

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About the Author

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta

Vishal is passionate about the science part of B2B Sales. He is a Co-founder of “B2B Sales” company –Sales & Profit (SalesPro Business Solutions Pvt Ltd) – It is into Sales Consulting, Sales Technology, Sales Training, Sales Recruitment and Lead generation. You can reach him @ vishal.mehta@salesprofit.in

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