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Find Your Ideal Customer Profile

4 min read
Updated Aug. 6, 2021
Published Jan. 21, 2013

Once you’re in a conversation with a sales lead, your primary job is to eliminate the lead from your list {tweet this}.

You have to qualify your leads because determining who will actually buy your product determines the efficiency and ultimately the success of your sales endeavor. If you do not qualify leads, you are impulsively chasing prospects down the rabbit hole. You’re liable to waste time with people who will not or cannot buy your product.

Pitch to or pass up there is no try.

The best way to qualify leads is to create a benchmark: an ideal customer profile. This will allow you to focus your sales and marketing efforts, spend less time deliberating on the promise of inbound leads, and ensure greater consistency in your sales rep’s effort.

Most companies have not yet committed to the concept of their ideal customer profile. This is a huge mistake; their sales reps are going to waste time chasing leads who don’t need, can’t afford, or simply won’t purchase their product.

There is an ideal customer archetype for your company and product. Here’s what it should entail:

1. What is the ideal size of your prospect’s company?

Remember, bigger is not always better. Fortune 500 companies are often accompanied with department delays, complex systems and multiple levels of buyer committees. These can cause a delay in securing the sale – is this something you can afford to pursue?

2. What sector do you want to focus in?

The idiosyncrasies of purchase cycles, needs, inventory requirements, billing cycles, and market demand between different sectors are not negligible. It’s important to consider the impact of the market sector on the ability of your sales force to close leads.

3. Under what geographical circumstances do you have advantages?

Geography is an enabling factor in building sincere relationships with customers. Many companies can benefit from local relationships and community efforts. Don’t overlook local leads all else being equal…they’ll often times reap more residual rewards.

4. What attributes have correlated with ease of conversion?

Certain prospects may be easier to convert than others due to company financials, corporate structuring, and the culture of the management. We’ve found that on average that new management is more open to implementing changes than previous management.

(By the way, you can use our free tool, Job Change Alerts, to help you easily find out when leadership has changed).

5. Which markets are most promising?

This is both obvious and subtle. It’s obvious that it’s preferable to sell products in large and high growth markets. But it’s equally important to recognize that your prospects market may vary in momentum due to seasonal or regional factors. Continuously segment for insight into the true market size of your prospect.

6. What internal systems does your offering “play well” with?

If your prospect relies heavily on certain tools or preexisting products, then you might consider leveraging your product as a complementary good instead of as a competing product.

7. What kinds of corporate cultures would take to your product?

A B2B customer of ours one mentioned that his ideal prospect profile involved companies who used the term “quality” to describe their services. That’s insightful. Identifying the company culture through a search for key terms such as “tech-forward”, “quality”, or “analytic” sheds light onto what they want to be known for.

8. What are the similarities between your best customers?

Prospects who match the attributes of your best customers are also the ones who most need your product.

Hitting sales targets begins with knowing your target. The beauty of creating an ideal customer profile is that for the time it takes to answer these questions, you’ve created a guideline to both organize your current leads and narrow future searches for future prospects. It’s the one-two punch of efficiency.

Let us know how defining your ideal customer profile helped you. We love stories.