Understand your ideal customer profile and personas better

ICP & Personas by Christine Hammeren

Do you know which type of companies is most likely to benefit from your solution? Which stakeholders should you target to hit your marketing and sales goals? A better understanding of your ideal customer profile (ICP) and personas enables you to focus on the accounts most likely to become high-value customers, which increases annual recurring revenue and customer satisfaction. This article provides insight into why and how you can better understand your ICP and buyer personas.

Christine Hammeren - ICP and personas

Written by: Christine Karlsen Hammeren, Lead Generation Specialist at Viking Venture

Mapping your ICP 

When mapping your ICP, we recommend first looking at your existing customer base. Determine whether your best customers share any common traits. Use data, like annual recurring revenue and usage, to describe the characteristics of the companies most likely to benefit from your value proposition. The description of your ICP can include industry, geography, company size, and other relevant characteristics. You can also attach negative aspects to help you exclude companies that are not a good fit for your solution. A clearly defined ICP helps marketing, sales, and customer success focus on the correct type of leads and customers. The input from your ICP can also help with segmentation, targeted campaigns, and a lead-scoring model for marketing.

Find the decision-makers and influencers in the buying process

After determining which accounts to target, the next step is to accurately map out the most important stakeholders within these companies. Thereafter, you analyse what decision-making power they hold. When analyzing sales and customer data, you should be able to identify the buyers involved in the decision-making process from lead to customer. It could be that the CEO is the final decision maker, but that the first contact in the process is in an entirely different role within the company. Use stakeholder mapping to identify key stakeholders and understand their level of interest and decision-making power for targeted communication. This exercise will give you a high-level view of the entire process and help you decide how, and when to communicate with different stakeholders. 

Stakeholder Mapping ICP and personas

Understand how your personas think and act

When you know the roles you need to target, you can build your buyer personas. Include and engage your commercial, product, and finance departments to get their input on what characterizes the key stakeholders — in addition to looking into your data to collect demographic and buying insights. This research should uncover job descriptions, goals, challenges, interests, what motivates them, and where they get their information.

After mapping your personas, collecting feedback and data from actual customers and prospects is essential. Avoid making assumptions about your customers’ thinking and perception of the buying journey. Your internal teams have a lot of customer input, which works well as a starting point and can help form hypotheses. However, you should also involve the actual customer perspective and test the hypotheses you set. There are many ways of collecting feedback and data, like interviews, surveys, mining data, and social listening. 


Map the buyer’s journey from a customer perspective

The buyer’s journey visualizes a customer’s experience with your company, from becoming aware of you to purchase your software. The purpose of mapping the buyer’s journey is to understand better the actions, touchpoints, gains, and pain points a customer has throughout the buying process. This understanding should consequently help improve your engagement with the customer. It is key to increase their gain and reduce their pains in the most effective and efficient matter.   

Start by mapping the journey with customer-facing people in the organization. It is essential to map the journey for one persona at a time. Define the journey across different sales process stages from the customer’s point of view, not just the internal one. The process needs to be reviewed and tested with actual customers. In customer interviews, you should focus on customers’ actions and emotions along the journey, whether they are delighted or frustrated—confused or stressed. An overview of the personas’ experience will help you in the final step of finding possible improvements.

ICP and Personas buyer's journey

Why understand your ICP and personas better? 

A better understanding of your ICP should help sales, marketing, and customer success teams increase annual recurring revenue and customer satisfaction. You want to ensure that your marketing department target and attracts the appropriate leads. Attracting the right companies will help your sales department focus and spend time on high-quality leads, which should increase the sales closing rates. Moreover, these customers are less likely to churn as they are a good fit for your offer. 

The customer should always be at the center of your business. Ensure the entire organization understands and agrees on your ICP and personas. Set a reminder to update and revise your definitions yearly and update internal teams on possible changes. Also, continue to focus on positioning your solution towards the customers differently to create gain or relieve pains.  

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