An Ideal Customer Profile Delivers Sales Results

I was privileged this week to participate in a workshop session with Notion Capital and a number of their portfolio companies. The subject was on the importance of defining an Ideal Customer Profile and was hosted by a high growth early stage company. They talked about how they had used the Ideal Customer Profile and target accounts to revolutionise their whole approach to marketing, lead generation and the role of the sales team.

I had helped this company in the process of defining the Ideal Customer Profile and it was very rewarding to see the results that have been achieved in terms of increased sales, shorter sales cycles and increased Annual Contract Value (ACV).


Listening to them tell their story reminded me that the process hadn’t been entirely pain free. The perceived wisdom of most sales people is that the bigger their territory the better. The more accounts you give me and the more leads you provide me with, the more successful I will be. Basically the thinking is, give me enough people to talk to and eventually I’ll find someone who wants to buy from me.


This company turned the idea on its head and created what they admitted was an uncomfortably narrow Ideal Customer Profile. Sales territories were cut dramatically to 50 named accounts for each sales person.  The sales team, were asked to work with the marketing team to develop account based marketing programs.  To really make this approach stick, the sales people weren’t allowed to quickly burn through the 50 names and ask for another 50. These were targeted organisations that were considered a strong fit for the company’s proposition. Sales people were expected to persevere to develop a conversation with their named accounts. Changes to the list were only considered when sufficient effort had been put into each target account and it had been established that there was no short-term opportunity.


Well Placed Confidence

To say some of the early discussions with the sales team were lively would be an understatement. One or two of them couldn’t grasp the new strategy and decided to move on, but the ones that remain are now reaping the rewards with much improved sales figures.  Now the concept of the Ideal Customer Profile has become so much a part of the fabric of the company that the phrase is rarely used.

But what I found really interesting in catching up on their journey is that they have created the concept of the anti-Ideal Customer Profile.  If the Ideal Customer Profile represents the type of company they most want to sell to, and will benefit most of their solutions, then the anti-Ideal Customer Profile is the opposite.  The sales team are not allowed to follow-up with anti-Ideal Customer Profile leads and they will be politely ignored.  That’s a sign of how confident they are that they know which companies are likely to buy from them and why.  The sales results are undoubtedly showing that their confidence is well placed.


About the Blogger

Bryan Richter is Director, Go To Market Services at Apptituda; a Product Development Partner of Salesforce and a Global Partner of Sage Live.  Apptituda works with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to design, build and take to market game changing apps.

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