Mastering your B2B ICP

Developing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) improves sales cycles and conversion rates by defining the customers most likely to purchase your solution – the ones predisposed to say “yes.” The ICP provides a clear and shared framework for sales, marketing, and product development strategies by identifying:

  • The optimal companies to target
  • The messaging themes that will resonate
  • Vetting parameters for screening out prospects unlikely to buy

An ICP is similar to a buyer persona but looks at the organization rather than the individual. It is the company persona. This difference matters because your buyer persona may be interested in your solution but encounter internal barriers to adopting it. They want to buy but cannot get the budget – the ICP trumps the buyer persona. Gartner has a good definition and framework for thinking through your ICP and its connection to your buyer personas.

ICP Elements

Most ICP frameworks, including the Isurus approach, recommend including the three broad categories of information.


For example: Does a company need a certain number of employees to have the pain your solution solves or be above a threshold revenue level to afford it?  Does the functional department have enough employees to use the solution fully? Does the solution align better in some sectors than others?


For example: Does a company need a certain technology or infrastructure to fully benefit from your solution?  Do they need a threshold level of transactions, records, users, throughput, or something else for your solution to be better than other options? Does your solution require a certain skill set or technical expertise to use successfully?


For example: Does your solution appeal to companies or sectors that take a conservative approach to change or to those that embrace disruption and innovation?  Does your solution fit better with firms that prefer to leverage outside resources or those that keep as much internal as possible? Does your solution speak to certain values, such as sustainability? Does fixing a set of specific pain points need to be a priority?

Developing a B2B ICP

As a B2B marketer, you already have many of the building blocks you need to create your ICP. This includes quantitative information from your internal data and qualitative information from sales and customer service reps. Important data elements include :What current customers look like. How much they buy. What their needs are. Conversion rates. Response rates to promotion and campaigns.

However, there are times when B2B marketers lack enough information to develop an effective ICP.

For example, growth-stage companies have often focused most of their attention internally on their products and processes. They adopt an outside-in perspective only when their growth starts to plateau and they feel competitive pressures. Marketers in these companies, especially if they are new to the organization, often find that the company lacks a coherent definition of the customer. The ICP they create will be the company’s first one.

Another example is developing a new solution for the market or making an acquisition. Marketers don’t know if the ICP for the new solution is the same as that for their existing solutions, if it only aligns with a subset of a broader ICP, or if it is a different ICP altogether. For example, the new solution may only appeal to the largest companies or those in a specific sector.

And sometimes, the information needed simply does not exist internally. Data gaps exist for a variety of reasons. It was never routinely captured. It is spread across siloed departments that would be hard to integrate. The data is unreliable. The data is biased or anecdotal.

Filling in the Gaps

When faced with an incomplete ICP, primary research such as surveys and qualitative in-depth interviews can help fill in the gaps. Primary research has always been used this way. Segmentation and TAM research, at their core, have always been about defining the customer most likely to buy your solution. For example, your ICP closely aligns with the companies in your SOM – the share of the market you can realistically capture – which is a common output of TAM research when conducted using primary research.

Examples of the dimensions to explore in an ICP survey or interview include:

  • Sector
  • Revenue and Employee Size
  • Solutions used today: Competitive, alternative, adjacent, required
  • Why those solutions are used instead of alternatives
  • Current spend
  • Satisfaction with current solutions: Overall and with specific functionality
  • Headcount/Resource allocation related to the business process your solution improves
  • Company mindset: Early adopter vs. follower
  • Level and sophistication of internal resources

Conducting surveys and customer interviews may provide enough insights, but prospect data is also useful to fully flesh out an ICP.

Isurus has been helping clients develop their ICP for decades. If you’d like to learn more about how we could help you, contact us here.