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Redefining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) - ABM in the House - Episode 1

Written by Declan Mulkeen

Jul 1 2020

ABM in the House: a series of conversations between Alex Olley, Co-founder of Reachdesk and Declan Mulkeen, CMO of Strategic IC, as they explore how to build an effective Account-based Marketing (ABM) programme.

Here, Episode 1 outlines the key steps to define or redefine your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

ABM in the House: Redefining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Episode 1 - Transcript

Alex Olley (Reachdesk) - Declan, how's it going?

Declan Mulkeen (Strategic IC) - Good morning, Alex, Very well thank you, yourself?

Alex - Yeah, okay, thanks all good, Still funny times, how's everything over in Spain?

Declan - Well, thankfully the weather's improved, we've had about two months of absolutely terrible rain and storms, but thankfully the sun's coming out and things are improving here.

Alex - Good stuff, glad to hear it. Well. I'm glad we're finally kicking this off, this is the first episode of ABM in the House, how you feeling about it?

Declan - Very excited, I think people have been asking us lots of questions through LinkedIn channels, and I think over the course of the next few weeks, we'll do our very best to answer them.

Alex - Nice one, well, just for everyone who's watching at the moment, it's probably important to stress why we're doing this, you and I have been doing a lot of Account-based Marketing, it's kind of the core of our background. And, we had a lot of questions from our customers, people that we hear from in the industry, about how they're sort of adapting their ABM strategy for these times. So, for me ABM in the House is about adapting your Account-based Marketing programme, once people are working remotely or certain tools might not be working as well, so it should be a lot of fun.

Let's get straight into it with the first episode.

Declan - Okay, let's do it.

Alex - Okay, for me, I was reflecting on this. Today we're going to look at the future, I suppose. Like it or not, we're living in this new reality. We've got to set new expectations as marketers, we've got new goals, we've all got new marching orders from the executive teams.

In other words, we're trying to update our strategy to change to this market. So.

Declan - Hmm.

Alex - when I think about it, actually, I think things are accelerating to the future. We're actually putting things in place that maybe we put on hold, and actually this might be a really good thing.

So I want to spend the next couple of weeks addressing those things as well. Budgets are being cut, so maybe things have to be laser focused, and that's a good thing, right? We're not doing the spray and pray approach anymore, we got to be really refined.

But, we all know that as a result of that focus and that refocus everyone's going through right now, we've got to show significant results with lighter spend. So, I think it's going to be interesting.

So, what I wanted to start on today with you, really was, where do we re-begin as an Account-based marketing programme? Where would you start?

I mean, most people have like target account lists. Is that, a good place to start?

Declan - Well, I think you're right. I think a lot of people do, come to us and say, "Hey, we've got these accounts."

And we'd like to target them and we'd like to try to either win them or penetrate or land and expand, etc. And I think very often when we kind of dig a bit deeper, we said, well, how did you come up with this list that, very often we find there's not really any any science or any kind of hard data behind these lists. They're built over, legacy, historical reasons, sales leaders, C-Suite have ideas about who they'd like to have as accounts, etc.

So, we very often say to companies, well actually, maybe you should put that target account list to one side for a second. And, let's have a look at actually some of the basics, some of the foundations, that actually would build up, a solid approach to target account lists.

And, so we obviously ask people that, well, let's build your ideal customer profile, who is your ideal customer? And, that's really where Alex, where we actually say to people where you really should start with ABM is, who is your ideal customer?

And, let's build a profile of who that ideal customer is.

Alex - Okay, all right, Well, let's start there then. Before we do, why is it wrong just, to kind of go after the FTSE 100, the Fortune 500? what's the problem there?

Dec - Well, why have you chosen Fortune 500 or FTSE 100 or CAC 40 what's the reason behind that, if you can actually explain to me why you've decided that and what historical data you can show me that has proven that these are profitable accounts, that they are easy to win, they're easy to maintain. And, they're companies that will stay loyal to you, if you can back that data up.

And, obviously there's an alignment clearly between what you're actually offering and what they're looking to buy.

If you can match all those things, then that's okay. But, that's very often where the cracks appear, so to speak, in target account building.

And, that's why, once you kind of go through this process or actually, designing your
ideal customer, then that's when you can actually have a really solid foundation to build from.

Alex - Right, sounds like finger in the air stuff. So, let's help people build an ICP then, because that's where we started, when Reachedesk began, we were kind of born Account-based, so, let's help people refine their ICP, how about that?

Declan - Okay, that sounds like a plan. So, from your point of view, what you've seen, what would you say the first step is?

Alex - I mean, usually you'd have sort of firmographics and like the standard components to it. We're talking about, Account-based marketing right now, during this new normal as a lot of people call it. I'd actually say, that the first thing I recommend people do right now is actually begin, by talking to your sales and customer success team.

You usually will have, if you're doing Account-based Marketing already you usually have some version of an ideal customer profile. That's changed quite quickly. What I find people are getting wrong right now, they're not actually talking internally about the conversations that happen.

What is your customer success team, so who's leaving? Who's churning? You can't afford this anymore. Which industries are going wrong? Your sales and customer success
team, are on the front line.

They're in the trenches, they're talking to these people, and they can sense check, what
you don't necessarily know.

You might have something like a gong or refract where you can call intelligence solutions where you can listen in, sit down, have a conversation with those teams as well, they'll help you identify your existing ICP, if you have one, as to where gaps are.

Now, if you do have that, obviously, you've got to be thinking about the basics. But, once you've spoken to your sales and customer success team, you do need to be thinking about which accounts are most profitable to spend the most with you anyway, right? Which have those high satisfaction rates, which are the ones that are easy to sell to? And, the ones that you work with for the longest, some people use NPS scores as well. But take a look at that, refine it and then start working with those existing teams, as to whether those customers are still going to be, let's say Tier 1 accounts, maybe Tier 2. Or even if they fit in that profile at all.

Then that kind of ties in with your industries and your sectors. The ones that have been
affected the most travel, hospitality, those kind of businesses have been impacted greatly.

So, you might almost have this anti ICP, I call it, the ones that you will not be able to work with probably for the next three to six months.

Don't forget them, put them on ice, maybe set a date as to when, you might want to start watching those industries come back to fruition. But yeah, think about the industries that are not going to work, and then also the ones that are actually almost booming.

We're talking on Zoom right now, that industry has kind of gone colossal. Try and refocus on the businesses that help people working remotely. The businesses that have video conferencing tools, the ones that allow us and enable us, those are the ones you should prioritise, and that should almost become your new tier one. And then you have the ones that are kind of reemerging. And, I think those those are the things that I'd start with.

Talk your sales and customer success teams, focus on those industries specifically, take the anti ICP, the ones you can't do business with and then focus on the ones that are really accelerating and now you have like a first step into building ICP what would you do next?

Declan - Well, I think just to reiterate, I think you're absolutely right. I think looking at what's
trending, what's up, what's down, and also not taking anything for granted really, because I think what, certain industries that obviously have gone on ice, so to speak, two or three months ago may will be emerging, as you just said and may well be coming back.

And I don't think you should actually turn your back, necessarily on all these interests, because other people will benefit if they do keep close to those travel, hospitality, etc. So, I think you're absolutely right there. I think the step three for me, once you have that data, you've spoken to your customer success teams, you've spoken to your sales teams, you've got your industries.

And, then the next thing rather, would be to think about, what kind of size companies are the right fit for you? And I think very often companies, you know, you can't have a smorgasbord of going after everyone. You need to be really clear, what kind of company size are the right ones for you? Are you specialised in mid-market? Are you specialised in enterprise? Are you specialised even in SaaS startups? What companies are the right fit for what you do? And how you help them? And I think that would be step three for me.

And obviously, then linked to that clearly, which is an additional piece of information to feed into your ICP, is what can a turnover are you looking for, right? So, are you going after companies that have a turnover of a million dollars, or even a billion dollars. what is the size that is right for you? Because, depending on what your solution is, and depending on the price ticket of the solution that you offer, there are going to be companies that clearly cannot afford your solution. Or they may in the current environment, find your solution, a stretch too far.

So, I think it's really important, and we find this from our own agency, that knowing the size of the company, the turnover is key. And then obviously you move on and so for us, step five in this process, where are these companies based? And I think knowing very clearly, from an ICP point of view, you know which geographies you want to go after, is it United States, is the United States and Canada, Is it Western Europe? But, Western Europe is very broad, within Western Europe is it - Scandinavia plus United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria
or do you go much wider? And I think knowing those geographies now, looking at where they are with regards to the Coronavirus, and how are their economies emerging from that, I think is really important.

So, I think the 'where' is really quite key actually. And actually, perhaps depending on the size of the organisation and where you are in your growth, limiting the geographies that you go after is probably quite sensible at the moment.

Alex - Interesting, so you're actually actively looking at almost territory-specific. It might be country specific to say, well, actually these countries are coming out of this a bit faster than the others, and that might be an indicator to refocus there. That's really good point, nice, okay.

Declan - Yeah, and then I think, the next step for us, is like step six in this process would be, what we kind of call 'under the hood' which obviously, is kind of a car analogy which is - what kind of things are happening within that organisation that are publicly available that you can actually find out. So, for example, what technology do they use? And that's for us, it's a good indicator. Are they are they using Salesforce? Are they using HubSpot? Are they using Engagio? Are they using Marketo? All these kind of technology uses, are really good indicators of the kind of level of technology maturity of that organisation.

And, they're also indicators are kind of what we call sales triggers. So. You know that if they're using XYZ technology, that they're going to have a higher propensity to use other technologies that are linked to that. Or indeed, if they're using those technologies, then you know that they're going to be, in the case of ABM. They're going to be on an ABM journey. So, the level of maturity is quite important.

Are they active consumers, of the type of solution that you buy? Or would your solution be a leap in the dark for them? And, so for your sales team and for your marketing and for your content and messaging strategy, knowing how to pitch is really important. Are you completely new to them? But for example, Alex, in the case of Reachdesk, have they done direct mail before?Or is direct mail something that they don't know anything about? And I think that's really quite important. And I think the last part around this kind of 'under the hood' would be, team size. And for us, that's really an important indicator, is how large, for example, in the work that we do? How large are the sales and marketing teams? Who have we got to work with? we need the team internally within our client organisations to be there to able to help as well. So if they've only got a small team, then that might not always be a good indicator. But conversely, if they've got huge team that might equally be the fact that then maybe not the right fit for us as a company. So, those are some of the things that we look at.

Alex - A lot of businesses have had to refactor their teams, some of them have shrunk, some of them have grown. So you can use that, I think, right now to see, which businesses are actually actively hiring? If they're in growth mode, and you look at the team size is actually in the positive side of things, you should almost be prioritising them. There can be situations where if they, are letting go of people, actually they need technology to automate things more. So, that can also be another identifier but also it could be a signal to say actually don't go there. I think also with the technographics, I think, my advice to people is, you might have complimentary solutions, right?

As you mentioned, our system integrates with several systems like Salesforce and those kind of things if they've recently purchased something like that. They're actually in active buying mode for technology. So if you're a SaaS provider right now, look into the complementary solutions that fit who you might sell alongside.

And if those businesses are adopting them, right now you can use things like Datanyze, which is now a discoverable product. You can actually use those and say, well, they onboarded them recently. Now that's a trigger for us to go after them.

Declan - Yeah.

Alex - Okay, fine. So the final bit for you then I think we've covered quite a lot. what's that missing piece then, do you reckon?

Declan - Well, I think the final layer is what we call, intent, intent data.

Alex - Hmm.

Declan - And there's obviously lots it's a very popular term and a very popular subject but there are different types of intent. So, when we've got all that data, as you said, about 'what is an ideal customer?' We then say, "Well, let's look at what's happening."

So, and there are different ways to do this. The first thing is obviously looking at your first party data. And by first party data, that's what you have, what you have in your database
and what you have access to. So, look at what your customers are doing.

Look at what your identifed prospects are doing, how active are they if you have HubSpot, or Marketo or Salesforce, obviously you can track their engagement. You can track what their doing, you can track what emails they're reading from you. You can track what thought leadership that you're producing, they're accessing, what videos they're watching, et cetera. So look at those customers that actually actively engaged with your brand. And ask yourself some serious questions about, what are they engaged in? At what level? What are they finding interesting? What content am I creating that they're actually finding of interest? So that's a really key piece of data for us.

Alex - Second party, so things like Leadfeeder, so you can see on an account basis, which accounts are visiting your website. It's not just the sort of the intent around the net new side of things you might have a closed-lost opportunity in your CRM, and then that business is now six months later, looking at your website, looking at pricing terms and conditions, those kind of things.

So, that can be really important to have that signal to go straight to the sales team to say, "Actually, these guys are back in buying mode. "Let's pick it up and have that conversation again."

Declan - Yeah.

Alex - They've looked at these piece of content. We've got this new piece of content, refresh it and actually deliver value to them. It's a really nice way of using your own website with some anonymised data, and then putting it back through Leadfeeder and tying it to CRM.
So that's something that we found really useful.

Declan- Yeah, equally the same. And I think it also informs your whole kind of content strategy, and you're whole kind of, website strategy, how you build that customer journey. So then that can actually then, send signals to your sales teams about engagement and interest and where that prospect is in the buyer journey. And I think the third thing from intent data that we use with all of our clients,is third party intent.

And by that I mean the ability to find out away from your ecosystem, away from your website, what is actually happening in the market? And so there are third party data providers such as Cyance, such as Bombora, such as other companies out there such as 6sense who are also quite well placed in this .That, can actually give you intent signals. And, this is… This is used not just for, new client acquisition, but it's also used for engaging with customers. Because, if you can see what your customers are interested in, out there in the ecosystem, then that can obviously inform a lot of your, kind of, customer success teams. It can inform how you're engaged with your clients, it can inform how you can potentially go after and talk to other departments and other divisions within your existing customers. Because at the end of the day, very often we're only working with a small part of a company. And particularly with large enterprises these are enormous organisations in a hundred countries.

And very often you're working with one department in one country. So, using intent data is amazing for obviously new client acquisition but equally we are very large supporters of it being used for working with your revisiting customers as well.

Alex - That sort of covers most of it from an ICP perspective then. I think that, there you have it really, I think that gives hopefully anyone who is viewing this kind of a solid foundation for you to be able to start building an ICP out. The way we do, obviously, there are loads of different ways of doing it. Sounds like the way you and I do it is very similar to sort of have a framework to assess your current clients qualify leads that you've got in your database, create that target account list and make a really good solid start and be really focused. The guys I've been interviewing recently have said that my budget is half the amount, and I've got to get twice as much out of it. So, I think having a really solid ICP is going to help there, my word of warning is very simple it's not a fixed thing, right? It's always moving. We refresh it every three months. So make sure that the above criteria that we've perhaps just given you, as a starting point is refreshed. There might be other components that you want to add in. I think it's a really really solid start. So, what do you want to cover next week, Declan?

Declan - Well, if we've done we've covered today, the ICP right? We've given the basics of how to actually build that profile, I think if we can take that ICP forward into next week and talk about well, how do you then, build that target account list? Within that target account list, how'd you look at the tiering? which you mentioned earlier, Alex. What is the criteria for a Tier 1 account? What is the criteria for a Tier 2 account? What is the criteria for a Tier 3 account? If we could move forward with that and obviously help everyone next week to understand a bit more about that. And then we can bring on board looking at the buyer personae and which ones are relevant now and which new ones, potentially could be coming on board now in terms of new markets within those target accounts, right?

Alex - Awesome. I'm totally on board with that. Let's, kick things off there. In the meantime, what's happening this weekend in the Mulkeen family?

Declan - Well, with a little 10 month old you can imagine that it's a hive of activity here at the moment. So I think it will be just be playing and… And probably buying some new clothes for him because he's growing at a rapid (laughs) rapid rate at the moment. (laughs) So, we're finding it very difficult to keep him in clothes at the moment. So, that's probably our plan for the weekend.

Alex - Okay. All right, I think I'm just watering my tomatoes to be honest with you, nothing too exciting. Anyway look, it's always pleasure. This has been the first
episode of ABM in the House looking forward to next one.

Declan - Great stuff Alex. See you next week.

Alex - Cheers Declan, speak to you in a bit. Bye.

Declan - Thanks, bye

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