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How to Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile (And Then Target Them)

Max Altschuler

June 16th, 2017

create ideal customer profile

For businesses of any size, building an outbound sales strategy can be tough to accomplish. You can go top down, bottom up, or direct to your most likely buyer. But how do you go to your most likely buyer if you don’t even know who they are? Before you go hay wire with your outbound strategy, I’ll share how to define your ideal customer profile and then target them.

Top Down Sales Strategy

First you go find the information for the VP of Marketing or CMO, then you email asking them to refer down to the position you should be talking to.

You can also get the VPM/CMO excited about what you’re selling but odds are you won’t have their attention long enough to get your point across.

Therefore it works well to aim high and get referred downwards. Their boss is literally telling them to talk to you, so this tactic can work well at times.

Bottom Up Sales Strategy

I used this at Udemy when trying to get a BD deal done with Pearson Education. You aim lower in the organization, for us it was at their authors, to get people excited so they can report their excitement up the chain.

If you get enough buy-in from the bottom level you can usually get the higher ups to give your produce/service a real solid look.

This works well for selling into salespeople. Make their lives easier or more productive and they’ll sometimes tell their bosses, “it’s so good that if the company doesn’t pay for it, we’ll come out of pocket.”

Recommended Read: 6 Proven Tips For Getting Past The Gatekeeper

6 Proven Tips For Getting Past The Gatekeeper

Direct to the Most Probable Decision Maker

sales call tips

For sponsorship deals with large companies, I’ve figured out that I need to go directly to the Field Marketing Manager. Knowing this saves me a ton of time because I don’t need to be intro’d in to anything or work my way up the chain.

I know who the decision maker is and I can access them directly. I can choose to employ the other strategies as well, but I don’t need to play any games here.

You can also connect with multiple people in an organization at the same time, and engage the “deal triangle” by hitting all three. This can backfire but it depends on your messaging and your product. Try this at your own risk.

How To Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) 

  • What type of companies are your ideal customers?
  • Which companies fit that mold?
  • What are they buying, where are they buying it, what are they spending? What other products might they be using?
  • Who at that company is making that decision, using the product/service, or cutting the check? How big is their company and what does their corporate structure look like?

Recommended Read: How to Get in Front of Your Ideal Customers

How to Get in Front of Your Ideal Customers

1. What type of companies are your ideal customers?

This purely depends on your product and price point. Are you Enterprise, Mid Market, or Consumer? You should be able to grasp what vertical, industry, or company size you need to go after before you start selling.

2.  Which companies fit that mold?

To figure this out you can use data that is open to you on Angel.co, Crunchbase, or LinkedIn. Headcount, money raised, valuation, industry, location, etc are all instantly accessible to you. These sites can be easily scraped for all of this information.

3.  What are they buying, where are they buying it, what are they spending? What other products might they be using?

Here’s the juicy stuff. There are plenty of ways for you to go out and find where your customers are once you know what you’re looking for.

Sites like Datanyze and BuiltWith are great for looking up what services other companies are using. Is your product close to Marketo? Is it being bought by people who also use Hubspot?

You can find all the sites that are using Marketo, Hubspot, or other SaaS services by using products like Datanyze or BuiltWith.

When I was buying remnant ad inventory for Bankruptcy at AttorneyFee, I used Mixrank to tell me who was bidding on Google Adwords for the Keyword: Bankruptcy.

If these companies that bid on the keywords received leads that they didn’t have coverage for, I could buy them on the cheap. This tactic worked fairly often.

Back in the day I arbitraged Fiverr so I could live on a startup salary. I knew that people spending money on Facebook Ads had money to spend on adding likes to their page and I could easily sell them on the benefit.

After all, why dump money into buying ad space to direct people to your Facebook page that nobody likes? For a low price I could buy them the social proof needed to get people to convert.

I hacked this process with my virtual assistant by setting up a dummy Facebook account. She would rotate her likes and interests so she was constantly served different ads. I then had her click into those ads and get the email address for an employee or the company.

Then, I blasted out an email template through ToutApp and built a consistent stream of interested parties.

The point is, find out what people are already paying for that’s close to or tied to your product. Then go access those people. Datanyze, BuiltWith, and Mixrank are all super helpful tools for this.

4.  Who at that company is making the decision, using the product/service, or cutting the check? How big is their company and what does their corporate structure look like?

So this is a lot harder to figure out if you’re just starting out, but gets easier as you go on. For people that don’t have customers yet, go out and look at your target company’s corporate structures. Who you reach out to mostly depends on the size of their company.

It might look something like this.

0-10 employees – CEO. He’ll be the decision maker in most cases unless they have co-founders in the vertical you are selling into (CTO for Product, CMO for Marketing) or have already hired experienced VPs.

10-50 employees – VP of product value. (Marketing, Sales Productivity, Engineering)

50-500 employees – specialized role in product value.  (Field Marketing, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing)

More than 500 employees – regional specialized role in product value. (East Coast X, North America X, New York City)

Over time you’ll start to get a feel for where you should be targeting within that structure by reverse engineering your past deals.

If you’ve already closed deals you can do this right now. Go look at how you navigated organizations and group them by size of the company or corporate structure.

Maybe you find success with the CIO at Fortune 500 companies. Keep targeting that! Maybe the CIO is not an option at pre-IPO companies but you’ve had success with the VP of Strategy at companies that size.

Keep that up! As mentioned above, I’ve found my target job title at large companies for sponsorships is any variation of Field Marketing Manager.

Once you know who you’re going after, use Linkedin to find out the person in that role. Salesloft (which I use) or LeadIQ are great tools to find email addresses and phone numbers directly from LinkedIn. I’m a fan of approaching through email rather than phone but both tools give you the data you need to do either.

About the author

Max Altschuler

Max Altschuler is the founder and CEO of Sales Hacker, the leading community for the next generation of sales professionals. He’s the author of Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine. Max has been been published by the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Money, and more. He was named a top sales expert by both Salesforce and Inc, and keynotes conferences globally. He is also an avid investor and advisor for rapid growth startups.

  • Max, thanks for the article!

    We’re already using some of the described tricks. We also use Allora.io instead of BuiltWith because it’s x5 cheaper and sometimes BW results are outdated.

    I also want to suggest Replyapp for targeted email marketing and Rapportive for lead research – both tools are very useful.

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