How to Build Your Ideal Customer Profile in 4 Easy Steps

Don’t waste time marketing and selling to people who will never buy. Save time and energy by creating your ideal customer profile in four easy steps.

June 22, 2016

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Reaching people is hard. Period. And time is the enemy of every salesperson.”

    - Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst, TOPO

Building the trust and rapport needed to convert a lead into a client can be a slow and difficult process—especially when your sales team has to start from square one. But what if instead of constantly struggling uphill with unqualified leads, every prospect in your pipeline was interested right from the start?

Impossible? Hardly. All you need is a little customer targeting.

All the Wrong Places

Recent LinkedIn research found that only “half of B2B buyers contacted by sales professionals are the right person to talk to about new business.” That’s a phenomenal waste of time and resources.

The secret to increasing your ROI isn’t more marketing—it’s targeting. Don’t squander half your marketing budget and hundreds of hours generating leads that go nowhere. Find your ideal customer from the outset, and everyone wins.

Identify Your Ideal

Before you boost another post or target an audience, use these four simple factors to identify your ideal customer:

1.   Industry

2.   Company Size

3.   Location

4.   Relationship

That’s it. This simple ideal prospect checklist will save you countless hours of wasted marketing. So, let’s get started.

1. Industry: Find Your Niche

Refine your marketing focus to just your specialties—possibly even just one. B2B sales is all about expertise in your field, not a general awareness of a broad range of topics. When it comes to purchasing, no client wants a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. Stick to your strengths.

Verticals matter. Education, pharma, trade, and government clients all require vastly different marketing approaches, tactics, and even revenue streams. Each also carries budget expectations and inherent competition from other companies trying to court their business. Find an industry you can make an impact in without breaking the marketing piggy bank.

2. Company Size: Fortune 500 or Startup?

This initial level of customer profiling refinement is vital, yet often overlooked. Not all clients are the same (or can pay the same), and ROI will vary based on company size, industry, and years in operation.

What size client can you realistically afford to work with? Fortune 500 enterprises typically come with a lower initial ROI and higher upfront marketing costs, while mom-n-pops are in a lower price point with little continued business.

Is the visibility you gain from working with cutting-edge startups going to be able to keep the lights on, or do you want to forge more reliable long-term business partnerships with established companies at the cost of possible discounts on your end? Every company comes with a caveat.

3. Location, Location, Location

Even in the online world, location is still key. Before courting a global client, assess your ability to work across timelines and over international borders:

●     Do international copyright restrictions come with new costs and require more employees to oversee?

●     Can you manage a 24-hour social media campaign that straddles half the planet?

●     Can you respond to problems and concerns in a timely manner?

Quality interaction is the key to continued success. Timeframe compatibility is just the beginning of the problems that come with geographical differences.

Cultural gaps, language snafus, and a horde of unforeseen complications crop up the farther you reach from your base of operations. Factor these into your ideal client to keep costs down, satisfaction high, and ROI humming along.

Every client has expectations. The minute you fail to meet those expectations, you have a big problem—namely, no clients.

4. Relationships That Last

This last category is where you finally begin implementing your marketing strategy based on the profile you’ve created. Maintaining a value-based relationship with potential clients requires constant insight. LinkedIn research shows that, “B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with sales professionals who provide new insights about their business.

It’s a simple one-in-one-out equation—provide value, get clients. One great way to consistently provide value is by setting up a suite of custom alerts to stay on the cutting edge of your field:

●     Google Alerts - Target specific keywords, topics, and potential customers to receive constant updates

●     LinkedIn Search Alerts - Stay in the know about job openings, personnel shifts, and all the industry news

Context Is Value

LinkedIn research shows that “nearly 90% of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with sales professionals who are viewed as thought leaders in their industry.” The ability to stay current on the rapidly shifting media landscape will set your company apart from the competition.

Today’s buyers require more expertise, interaction, trust, and maintenance than ever before. So don’t waste your time courting the wrong clients. Consistently add something to the conversation: leads will listen, prospects will engage, and customers will buy.You just have to make sure you’re talking to the right people first.

Download our eBook to learn how you can integrate your marketing efforts with sales for social selling success.