It might be the million dollar question…who is your ideal customer? B2B marketers think they know who they are, sales KNOWS they know who they are and yet, as sales and marketing pipelines stop growing or even worse, diminish, we find we might not really know our ideal customer after all. The tricky thing is that you must consider various buyers when thinking about the ideal customer, their unique pain points, their role in the buying cycle and when and how they work. The challenge in B2B is that there isn’t just one buyer-there is generally a buying committee, with multiple people involved in different stages of the buyer’s journey. So, how do we recognize that ideal customer and build that profile to use to drive revenue? Here are a few ways to start learning more about your next customer:
Ask customers. Ask recent customers what prompted them to buy your solution. Ask how they made their decision. Ask what pain your solution is going to help them solve. Who was on their short list of potential vendors? Ask who they consulted in building that short list of vendors and when they did so. You will be shocked to find they asked their friends, their peers, searched blogs and social networking sites to gain facts, opinions and anything else they could find on your solution. Gather customer data.
Ask sales. Every sales person from your SDR team to your strategic accounts team has a good idea about the ideal customer profile. They do predictive modeling in their head all day long on the next big customer. Ask them what they think. Ask them for insights from recent calls, emails and meetings. Ask them what made the buyer respond to their voicemail, their follow-up email or their conversation at a trade show or event. Gather sales data.
Analyze content consumption. Look at your marketing metrics and content plan. See who is consuming what content and when. It matters. You might be sending the right pieces at the wrong time and that doesn’t help anyone, especially your potential customer. Buyers want to get to know your organization, understand how you can help them and evaluate your reputation, so before you send them an in-depth white paper on the value of XYZ — make sure it will be important to them and help them. Analyze what types of content are converting fastest by various titles. Look at this over time or even by campaign. It can give you huge insight into who your customers are and what types of content they like to consume.
Identify top industries and company size. Again, look at recent data on new customer acquisition from the past two years. Identify the top three or four industries and size of company (SMB, midsize and Enterprise) that represent the majority of your customers. Then, if you want to get really into it, go for vertical within industry to drill down even more. This data will help you refine your Ideal Customer Profile. If you haven’t had one customer in the past two years from a large Enterprise manufacturing firm…maybe they really are not a potential buyer. Look at the data.
Building your Ideal Customer Profile can be daunting. There are many facets to our customers these days, but you have to start with some solid data to begin to understand and identify them. Historical customer data gives you some of the answers you need to help define your Ideal Customer Profile. Current and past customer conversations and sales team interviews shed more light on who your next customer may be. You might not like the answers, but at least you will have them and then you can make your next move. If you can’t define your Ideal Customer – how can you find more of them and then market effectively to them? Build your Ideal Customer Profile based on data – it’s the best place to start.