How To Create An Ideal Customer Profile [ICP] For B2B Lead Generation? [+Free Template]

Image of how to create ideal customer profile, 4 easy steps and template for lead generation

Ideal Customer Profile? Say what?

When figuring out the sales strategy, it is hard to specify who you should be targeting. If you try to pitch to somebody you think is the best, or anyone really before prior analysis, you will fail at your execution. 

Moreover, it’s like playing darts with blindfolded eyes, hoping to hit the 50 points mark. Perhaps you will hit it, but the chance is 99,9% you won’t. What’s worse, if you do not know who you are pitching to, you will waste your budget and time spent. 

Luckily, we are here to take the blindfold from your eyes and present you with the solution – Ideal Customer Profile, aka ICP. Therefore, in this article, we will show you a comprehensive guide on how to create an Ideal Customer Profile with different approaches based on whether you have an established business or just starting out.

What Is An ICP?

An Ideal Customer Profile is a description of the companies that would benefit the most from your product or service. In other words, the companies that belong to your ICP should be the ones with the fastest conversion cycle, highest customer retention, highest LTV and are willing to refer your product or service to others elsewhere. Therefore, An Ideal Customer Profile is the company profile that has been or will unquestionably become a long-term customer, upsell easily and adore your product or service since it solves their problem seamlessly.

Note: Once the ICP is defined, the sales reps should get an idea how to speak and approach these companies.

ICP can be both positive and negative. In other words, you can create an ICP which describes your perfect customer match to target your ideal prospects, but also you can create a negative one – the worst kind for your business so you can run a check-up on the ones who come your way. We will focus on the positive ICP, but the same process applies if you wish to create a negative ICP.

The Difference Between An Ideal Customer Profile And A Buyer Persona

ICP and Buyer Persona are both essential documents for salespeople, and they serve the same goals – prospecting on LinkedIn and finding the right people. In other words, these similar tools go hand in hand, and it’s easy to mix these two in the process. Firstly, to create both, let’s distinguish them clearly. 

ICP combines firmographic, demographic, and behavioral data that best describes only the company ideal for your business. This data can include info, such as: 

  • Location,
  • Average company size, 
  • Revenue,
  • Pain point, 
  • Industry, etc.

On the other hand, a Buyer Persona is a document that describes people who are involved in a buying process alone. The data from your ICP might mention the decision-makers and their positions. However, Buyer Persona will go into more personal details such as job title, what social media channels they consume, or how much they make.

Basically, Buyer Persona focuses on more psychological and personal details, while Ideal Customer Profile focuses more on the company itself and the metrics.

Let’s zoom things out a bit. Ideal Customer Profile is a broader specification than Buyer Persona. One ICP can contain multiple Buyer Personas you wish to target. For example, you may be targeting the chief marketing officer as well as the CEO in the same company profile. 

Plot twist: If you zoom things out, even more, you find out that you can have multiple ICPs for your business. In this case, the industry will be the dominant specification for ICPs. If you imagine a diagram, it looks something like this:

Image that describes difference between ideal customer profile and buyer persona

Back to the ICP and Buyer Persona. Here is a simplified example of the main difference between ICP and Buyer Persona.

Image demonstrating difference example between ideal customer profile and buyer persona

Note: If your company is new, It’s better to start off with creating an Ideal Customer Profile, and then move onto Buyer Persona.

How To Create An Ideal Customer Profile?

An Ideal Customer Profile needs to be as detailed as possible to identify all the aspects of your target companies, create a good base for your Buyer Persona, and later on for your LinkedIn lead generation activities. 

Here is how to create ICP in case you:

  • Already have an Ideal Customer Profile as your customer;
  • Do not have ICP as your customers or customers at all.

If You Already Have An Ideal Customer Profile As Your Customer

1. Analyze Your Current Customers Data 

Data is precious. Analyzing it, you can figure out patterns and anomalies that your business can benefit from. In this case, the best way you can create ICP is to start with your existing customers’ data. This way, you can figure out similarities amongst your most valuable customers.

The trick here is to first pinpoint who your best customers are. You can do so by setting the following questions for yourself:

  1. Firstly, what company did become your customer the fastest way possible?
  2. Secondly, who are the customers that have the highest retention rate?
  3. Thirdly, what customers have the highest LTV?
  4. Lastly, what company did refer your product and service elsewhere? 

When you have the list of such companies it is time to move on to the next step.

2. Identify The Patterns

Once you have the list of current companies that are your customers according to previous criteria, it is time to analyze them. The key here is to notice patterns and similarities between these companies.

Here is the list of patterns to keep in mind when analyzing:

  • Industry – what is their business domain?
  • Location – where are these companies located?
  • Company headcount – how many employees work in the company?
  • Revenue – how much the company makes a month (to figure out whether they have a budget for your product or service)?
  • Challenges on the company level – what problem made them find a solution in your product or service? 
  • Decision-maker – who is responsible for a decision to buy such a product or a service?
  • Technology – what technology do they use daily? 
  • Goals and objectives – what is their mission and vision?
  • What is their product or service
  • What is their status on the market

Note: One way you can do this step is to open Google Sheets, make a note of customers list in rows, and put said patterns in columns. Once you have them neatly written down, you can notice these patterns easier.

Depending on how detailed you wish to be while creating ICP, you may or may not use all the information listed above. 

3. Have A Chat With Your Customer

Once you’ve established the patterns and have rough data, it is time to get personal and go deeper into the analysis. To gather more personal information, you can book online meetings and chat with your customer. Talking with your existing customers from the companies on the list will give you additional insight into otherwise unavailable information. 

Here is the list of questions you can ask your customers:

Image of template questions to ask current customers to create ideal customer profile

Keep in mind that not all customers have time to talk to you, or your meeting is not their priority. If you did the social selling right, you will have instant positive feedback because of your well-established relationship with them.

In other cases, you need to find an alternative motive for the customers, so they are willing to hop on this meeting. In other words, this is where discounts or gift cards come into play. You will get valuable information, and they will gain something in return. Win-Win.

4. Assemble Information About Your ICP

You are almost done. The last step is to assemble all this information on a single sheet of paper. As we mentioned before, it would be easier to start with ICP industry segmentation and go on from there. 

With Ideal Customer Profile defined, you can alter your sales and marketing efforts to target the right companies for your business. Furthermore, ICP is useful for SDRs as each company they come across in the future, be it outbound or inbound, can be compared to the profile on the document. In other words, depending on the comparison, an SDR can make different decisions or approach styles.

In the template below, we will show you the example. Furthermore, we will provide you with the document, which you can download or make a copy of. 

If You Do Not Have Ideal Customer Profile Using Your Product Or A Service

The previous approach was an easier one because the data is easily accessible. However, do not despair – if you do not have ICP as your customers, or any customers whatsoever, here are the steps you need to take, which are slightly different from those above.

1. Identify Your Ideal Customers 

One of the best ways to start creating an Ideal Customer Profile in case you don’t have any customers or the ones ideal for your business is to zero in on the certain companies you believe will most benefit from your product or service. 

You can do this by first identifying a couple of things on your end:

  • Product or a service benefits
  • Problems and solutions your product or service offering

Once you do that, choose a group of ideal companies to research. Follow their founders or other decision-makers and discover what they write about, are there any pain points they often talk about; visit their website, or check out their LinkedIn page. Possibilities about research are endless.
Once you’ve done your research, write down these companies. With this approach, you will help your sales and marketing team narrow down the target group and be more effective in their activities.

2. Identify The Key Aspects

Similarly to the previous approach, you need to add firmographic, demographic, and slightly behavioral data to the companies’ list. Here is the information you can gather about these companies and add to the list next to the companies’ name: 

  • Industry 
  • Location 
  • Company headcount
  • Revenue
  • Challenges on the company level
  • Decision-maker
  • Technology used
  • Goals and objectives
  • What is their product or service
  • What is their status on the market

Depending on how detailed the person wishes to be while creating ICP, they may or may not use all the information listed above. However, we do suggest making your ICP as detailed as possible since it will provide the best options for LinkedIn lead generation targeting. 

3. Finding Personal Information About The Company

To make your Ideal Customer Profile as detailed as possible, you need to find out more personal information about the companies themselves, but one requires mingling on your end. In other words, you need to reach out to them. 

Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn – most people will be glad to chat with you and share experiences. Furthermore, you can use this opportunity to reach out to their decision-makers and start your social selling.

To reach out to these people, you can first send a personalized invite to connect.

Example of invitation to connect that is a conversation starter:

Hey {{FirstName}},

I saw your awesome profile and noticed you work as {{Occupation}}. I would love to connect and share experiences and talk more about the hardships of the position itself.

From there, you can continue the conversation like this:

Hey {{FirstName}},

Thanks for accepting the invite. 
I saw that you are working at {{CurrentCompany}}. Would you mind me asking what you find the most difficult in your current job there or in general? I am doing a bit of research since I am developing a product specially designed for {{Occupation}}, and I would be glad to hear your thoughts on this.

Here are a couple of questions you can ask them:

  • What is the process of decision-making in their company?
  • What are the pain points in the field of your product or service?
  • If they were looking for such a solution, what features would they love to see?
  • What are their goals and objectives?

4. Build An Ideal Customer Profile

The last step is to assemble the information you gathered, which we cover in the next segment. If you choose the companies that work in different industries, start with industry segmentation first, and import the rest of the data to have multiple ICPs. Otherwise, you will have only one. 

Keep in mind that depending on the effectiveness of your new ICP and the results, you can modify the said document in the future. 

Ideal Customer Profile Template

Here is how simplified and assembled Ideal Customer Profile should look like for a fictitious company that offers a time tracking system to other companies.

IndustryB2B product and service companies
Type of companyServer hosting providers
Company headcount50 – 150
Revenue per month$200K – $1M
Technologies used– Jira
– Slack
– Google Meet
Goals and objectives– To gain bigger market share
– Offer safest and cost-effective service and maintenance
Decision-makers– Head of HR
Pain points– Remote working
– Hard time determine working hours per week, per employee and per project to make an estimate and bill clients accordingly
– Tracking employees productivity
Solution your product offers– Detailed reporting 
– Tracking work hours across projects
– Productivity check 
– Tracking time on the go
– Ready to go invoices
Unique Selling Proposition– Mobile and desktop app to track on multiple devices and on the go
– Manage remote teams and employees 
– Analyze companies efficiency across teams 
– Bill clients easier

Additionally, if you wish to download this template, be sure to click here and make a copy. 

How To Use ICP For Lead Generation

After you’ve created an Ideal Customer Profile regardless of the scenario, it is time to put it to use. As we mentioned before, the ideal customer profile is a powerful tool to identify your ideal leads. Keep in mind that companies who do not match your ICP are still worth your while, but the retention rate will perhaps be lower or buying experience longer, so optimize and adjust your efforts accordingly.

Ideal Customer Profile is fairly easy to apply for lead generation. The idea is to search and create a company leads list to match your ICP, and then reach out to them. 

1. Similar Companies Search

Hacks To Find Leads Using Basic LinkedIn Search

Go to your LinkedIn account and research the industry or type of companies defined in your ICP document. Once you do, use additional filters available to narrow down the search according to your ICP.

Image of basic LinkedIn search filters to find leads from ICP

When the search is complete, go to each company profile and find your leads.

Image of finding employees from company profile on LinkedIn, how to find people for lead generation from ideal customer profile

Create a CSV file with every lead’s first name, last name, profile URL, and email. Save this file for the next step.

Image of CSV file and leads' information to use in lead generation campaign

Hacks To Find Leads Using Sales Navigator

There are two ways you can filter your leads.

1. Find Leads From The Company Profile

One way is to go to your Sales Navigator search, and search for the type of company you wish to find. Secondly, add additional filters, and see the results. Thirdly, find your ideal company from the list, and click on the three dots button. Then, click on the “View Similar”. 

“View Similar” is a nifty Sales Navigator feature that will try to find companies most similar to the company you choose according to the industry, company size, etc. As a result, it will show you up to 50 similar companies.

You can also use your existing customer you selected as your ICP, type their name in Sales Navigator search bar, and click on “View Similar” button for that company. 

Image of Sales Navigator search to find lead companies from ideal customer profile

From there, click on the company you are most interested in and find your decision-maker. Once you do, go ahead and save him to the lead’s list. In addition, repeat the process for every company.

Image of how to save leads similar to ideal customer profile to lead list in Sales Navigator

2. Find Leads Similar to The Decision-Maker Working For Your ICP

Another great way you can find similar leads is to use Sales Navigator to find the exact decision-maker working for your ICP. Once you do, you can click on the “View similar” button, and Sales Navigator will show you a wonderful selection of leads.

Similar to the “View Similar” feature for the companies, Sales Navigator will try to find leads similar to the lead profile you select, according to position, age, a company they work for, etc. In this case, Sales Navigator will find up to 100 similar leads.

Image of ''View Similar'' feature in Sales Navigator, to find leads from your ideal customer profile for lead generation

From there, select all the leads and also save them to the list.

Image of how to save similar leads to lead list in Sales Navigator, using ICP for lead generation

image of starting a free trial on Skylead

2. Create An Outreach Campaign

You can outreach the leads you found manually, but to make this process easier, you can use a sales engagement tool to do it for you. Let’s take Skylead for example. In order to create a campaign, take the CSV file from LinkedIn results or URL from Sales Navigator lead’s list, and upload or paste it into Skylead.

Image of Skylead campaign creation, using ICP, Ideal customer profile for lead generation

3. Create A Smart Sequence For Outreach

To clarify, the smart sequence will allow you to define the steps you need to take for your outreach towards the selected leads. Simple drag and drop of the elements, such as actions and conditions, will result in a sequence such as:

Image of Skylead's smart sequence, Using Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for lead generation

4. Enjoy The Results

And you’re done. Once you’ve started your campaign, relax. Skylead will do each step from the smart sequence for you, so you can focus more on responses from the leads, social selling, and building relationships with your prospects.

image of skylead's sales e-book

In Conclusion

An ideal customer profile first and foremost allows you to narrow down, analyze prospects, and optimize your approach. Furthermore, it shows precise challenges – valuable information to adjust unique selling points and offer tailor-made solutions to their problems.

To repeat, the 4 easy steps you need to take depending on whether or not you already possess an Ideal Customer Profile as your customers:

I already have ICP as my customersI don’t have ICP as my customers
1. Analyze your current customer data1. Identify your ideal customers
2. Identify the patterns2. Identify the key aspects of the company
3. Have a chat with the existing customers3. Find personal information about the company
4. Assemble the ICP4. Assemble the ICP

The next step is to create a Buyer Persona, so take a look at the detailed guide here.  

Wish to use Skylead to outreach to your Ideal Customer profile easier? Come, say hi, and test our LinkedIn Automation & Cold Email software during a 7-day Free Trial

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How To Create An Ideal Customer Profile [ICP] For B2B Lead Generation? [+Free Template]
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