Before a single call is made or email is sent, you need to know who to target on an account level, but more importantly you need to know why you should reach out to this account. This may seem like business 101, but you’d be shocked how many companies don’t know who their true Ideal Customer Profile (ICP Sales) is until months/years into outreach, this is a core element of any great Sales Development Playbook. Outbound can be a great way to identify who your true ICP is, but you still need to have a basic idea before you start scaling your outreach with a value prop that matches up to your ICP Sales strategy.
From a best practices standpoint, it’s helpful to consider several criteria when you are piecing together a basic ICP. If you’re an individual contributor (AE, SDR, etc), your leadership team has already put an extensive amount of time into your ICP, but that may not always be the case so it’s important to understand the best ways to identify it or build on what’s already been built.
Questions to ask if struggling to identify ICP Sales:
- Who was the last person you had a great conversation with?
- What type of company they were?
- Who had the shortest sales cycle? AKA who was easier to sign?
- What client makes you the most money?
- What was important to them?
The next things to look at are:
First things first, understand and build out a complete list of your Total Addressable Market. What industry lines up with your value prop? Many companies will have a value prop that extends beyond 1 industry, so it’s important to not limit your scope to ONLY looking at a few industries but rather looking at your value prop and piecing in all industries that can be impacted.
Are you trying to prospect into companies within a specific region? Now’s the time to identify companies that fall within that space. Keep in mind, if you’re prospecting into the EU, you need to be aware of GDPR. LinkedIn is a fantastic channel to skirt around GDPR since it’s not against any laws to reach out to a prospect in a strict-GDPR country through social media prospecting as long as it’s done person-to-person (connecting first) rather than sending unsolicited messaging.
Is there a specific revenue threshold that would make a company NOT a good fit? It’s important to note that revenue is a fickle metric and there may be some great prospects that fall outside your targeted revenue range, and since revenue is rarely reported outside of public companies it’s not an accurate data point so we recommend setting a range that falls below/above what your ideal target revenue is.
Much like revenue, employee count indicates a good fit. Especially if your product pricing is based on headcount. It is recommended to err on the side of broad than too narrow since employee count can change quickly or be manipulated to reflect something inaccurate.
Specific criteria can range from specific technologies being used to factors like Alexa ranking, budget, growth, market share, financial performance and the hot topic of intent data. These criteria can be hard to truly confirm, but the specific focus can be incredibly valuable to nailing down relevant outreach.
Identify Your Buyer Role
Once you’ve nailed down the Ideal Customer Profile, the next step is identifying who within the company you should be reaching out to and also understanding why this person would benefit from your service/product. Note: It is very important to start with Buyer Persona Research.
A typical B2B sale will almost always involve more than one person, with some sales involving up to 20 people at an enterprise level, so only targeting 1 person per account can leave a lot of potential on the table.
That said, looking at every person that CAN be involved in the sale can be daunting because the involvement will vary from company to company, which is why we’ve broken down these categories into 2 roles at SalesHive called Target and Influencer.
This is the decision-maker and the person you’d like to meet with the most. This will typically be the Director/VP at a larger company but may be a C-Level decision at a smaller company.
If it’s an individual contributor (IC), you must look at both who oversee the IC as well as the person who they report to. If you’re selling a sales software, the AE/SDR will likely be the person using it daily. The person who cares about it though isn’t just the IC, it’s the person who is responsible for their metrics that the product/service impacts.
The SDR manager might be the initial reporter, but their director/VP of sales is the one they will report those metrics to and ultimately be the person to decide if it will help the team. If you can help them involved, going to the VP of Sales first can put you in a position where they start creating buy-in for your product before you even have to talk to the manager, which is ideal because it will keep the buyer from being clogged up in the spokes of business.
Main takeaway: the decision-maker can be more than one person, but having the right range of focus and insight into the buyer roles can help you get the deal moving quicker.
The influencer is the person who might want your service/product but is either too senior to care or too junior to have a final say. For the example above looking at a sales product, the CEO may care about the efficiency of their sales team, but they won’t be the person who you’ll likely spend the majority of your cycle speaking with. IC’s can also be an Influencer since they will be the day-to-day user, as well as gate-keepers.
The purpose of reaching out to the Influencer is not to close with them, but rather get the door open and create either a champion or a referral. If the CEO tells the VP of sales to speak with you, you better believe they’ll have some interest in learning enough to report to the CEO what they learned. Or if an IC likes what you have to offer, they might be able to get you in contact with the decision-maker.
If you’re reaching out to the Influencer role, you need to focus on making it relevant to them. They aren’t going to help you for no reason, so you need to sweeten the deal.
Taking a deep and wide approach can be crucial to closing the deal efficiently, so it’s always worth hitting both groups, especially if you have a large ACV.
How To Complete Buyer Research
Buyer Research is crucial to understanding who and why you should be reaching out to your ICP and Buyers. This is important to get in the mindset of your buyer and creating true value in your outreach that will not only resonate with them on a personal level but also give them an idea of how it can make them look better to other colleagues involved in the sales process.
Start by researching their KPIs and pains are so you know what is most important to them and frame your value around that. Ask around your team with reps that have had a lot of conversations with these buyer roles in the past so you can understand what keeps them up and night and how you can help them. You can also go back and listen to call recordings with other buyers your team has been in communication with in the past with a similar role.
Strong prospecting requires a strong understanding of your value prop. The value prop itself doesn’t need to be inserted into every piece of outreach, but the main idea is going to be necessary to demonstrate to your ICP why your solution is worth exploring, but not so specific that it only applies to a very specific part of your audience.
The best way to hit that balancing point with your value prop is to dumb it down. I’m not saying you should remove the value itself, but rather take out the jargon that doesn’t add any true value to your offering.
Companies are surprisingly terrible at creating value props that are easy to digest and applicable to multiple roles. Thus, their sales and marketing teams are forced to outreach for a specific value prop that alienates a large part of their available market.
Pain Points Of Your ICP Sales
Understanding the pains they are feeling is one major step to getting a clear and relevant value prop that you can effectively used in all your sales prospecting.
Step 1: Map out 1-3 common pains
...that they may be feeling that align with other similar conversations your team has been having. Go back and listen to your team recordings if you’re not sure what those are, it’s likely that your team has come across a handful of common pains within their discovery calls, it’s your job too.
Step 2: What was the market doing before your solution existed?
If you can identify what they were doing or are currently doing, you can start looking for pains they may be facing that you can bring value to.
Step 3: How do you solve that?
Look at each pain and take into account what they likely were doing or are currently doing, and how your product/service can make a difference.
Step 4: What’s the urgency?
Understand why a company would benefit from your product or service NOW vs a year from now so you can communicate why it’s worth their time to learn more now vs pushing you off.
Step 5: Why does it matter to your prospect?
This is an important piece that many reps don’t spend enough time trying to understand. It’s great if you know the answers to step 1 - 4, but it’s a whole different animal relating that knowledge to the prospect you’re reaching out to. Understanding what’s important to their role and how you can actively improve their job is critical.
Taking the buyer research we discussed and being able to weave it together with the above steps will enable you to start and hold better conversations with your prospects and help you sell meaningful insights into their role vs simply selling a product.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our post about "The Art of Cold Email: The Look and Tone."