Jan 23, 2024

How to define your ideal customer profile (with template)

A step by step guide to defining your ideal customer profile along with our free template and automating ICP marketing with AI.

How to define your ideal customer profile (with template)

Inevitably in a company’s journey a lucky person is tasked with defining the ideal customer profile (ICP). Since you’re here, we’ll assume that’s you.Welcome, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article we’ll walk you through how to define and maintain your ICP.

How to find your ICP with CustomerIQ

There are 10 steps to creating your ICP and then 3 steps to making it useful. To create your ICP you want to:

  1. Aggregate your customer feedback
  2. Identify your best customers
  3. Summarize their characteristics (firmographics)
  4. Identify their pain points and needs
  5. Outline their buying process
  6. Research where they find new solutions
  7. Outline why they buy
  8. Outline what they love about your solution
  9. Fill in gaps
  10. Assemble the ICP

Let’s start with aggregating customer feedback.

1. Collect and Aggregate Customer Feedback

We use CustomerIQ to aggregate and analyze all our customer feedback. If you don't have a CustomerIQ workspace you can sign up for free here.

The key to this guide and any guide is to integrate every data source that contains customer feedback, like call recordings, support tickets, and interview transcripts. Common data sources are:

  • Slack
  • Gong calls
  • Hubspot
  • Zendesk
  • Other applications from Zapier

2. Identify and tag your best customers

The goal of the ICP is to define for our teams who to target based on our best customers right now. So we need to filter our aggregated feedback by feedback from our best customers.

Start by reviewing you CRM:

  • Who have we recently upsold to?
  • Do we love working with them?
  • Do we have geographic fit?

You can also layer on usage and behavioral data like:

  • Do they have high usage?
  • Do they use high-margin features or services?

Now you have your list of best customers.

In CustomerIQ: Tag each accounts from your best customer list with the tag “ICP” - this will allow you to filter all the feedback and insights from your best customers in a view.

Tag accounts in CustomerIQ

If you don’t see those accounts in CustomerIQ it means you don’t have feedback from them.

Create a doc to track changes and write this down as a gap, we’ll want to schedule customer interviews to fill these gaps later.

3. Identify firmographic characteristics

In your doc, create columns for common characteristics among your best customers. Things like location, industry, size, etc. Think of anything you might use to filter prospects in a prospect list - what are these attributes for your current best customers?

You can get this data from your CRM, Linkedin, or tools like Clearbit.

Our doc outlining our ICP project

4. Identify pain points and needs

Now we want to shift toward understanding pain points, needs, preferences, and habits of our ICP. These can often be found in discovery calls or CRM notes. For the next few steps we're going to use Views to do the heavy lifting.Create a view, filter by Account tag=ICP and Category=Pain point, then check the AI discovered themes.

Filtering a view by folder, category, and account tag

5. What is their buying process?

Next we need to understand how our ideal customers purchase. We want to know who is involved in the purchase so that we know how to navigate sales in the future.

This was likely mentioned in sales discovery calls or in close/won analysis interviews.

In CustomerIQ: We’ll create another view, filter by

  • Account Tag=ICP

then we’ll use the AI search to simply ask, “What is involved in the customer’s buying process?”

AI search in views

This filters all the insights we have in view by those related to the buying process. Depending on the amount of data we have, we can view a high level summary by grouping by themes or we can just look across the insights themselves.

Use the assistant: for a helpful narrative-answer you can ask the same question of the assistant. The assistant uses the same search function and can provide a helpful summary of the answer.

If we don’t return any insights, or the insights don't exactly answer our question, we know we have a gap that we need to research through interviews. If this is the case, make a note - we’ll schedule interviews at the end of our process.

6. How did they find us?

Learning about how our customers found us in the first place can supercharge our marketing efforts.

To get this data we want to ask questions about where customers learned about us but also where they learn about solutions in general. It’s always helpful to ask about past examples, so ask something like, “Think of the last solution you bought, how were you originally introduced?” and more broadly, “Where do you get your news?” or “Where do you find out about new solutions?”

In CustomerIQ: Create a view and filter by

  • Account tag=ICP

then ask the AI search “How do customers find us?”

Similar to our other Q&A questions, the remaining data and themes should tell us if we have a gap or not.

AI search

7. Why do they purchase from us?

Now we want to understand our advantages. Chances are, our ideal customers are assessing multiple solutions in their buying process, so we want to know why they pick us, in their own words.

Again, when we are conducting interviews, we want to ask customers about real experiences, not their opinions, so we’ll ask, “What competitors did you assess in your purchase? Why did you go with us over them?” or “What was most important to you when picking your last vendor?”

In CustomerIQ: Create a view then filter by

  • Account tag=ICP

Then ask “How do customers purchase from us?”

8. What do they love about us?

Finally we want to learn what our best customers love about us so that we can market this love to new, ideal prospects. To find this data we’ll likely want to look at testimonials hidden in customer success calls or emails.

In CustomerIQ: Create a view and filter by

  • Account tag=ICP and Category=Praises

then check the AI discovered themes. You’ll see the praises in the view cluster into common themes. If you need to drill into a larger cluster, click the action button on the group and "Create view from tag."

9. Fill gaps in our data

As you went through the last exercises you were noting where gaps were in the data. That’s what we need to go interview customers about.

Consider the customers you marked as ICP - look through that list of contacts and choose 5-10 folks you’d like to speak to in-depth. Collect the 3-5 questions we outlined from each topic, then reach out and schedule a time with them to discuss.

If you're interested in having our team of researchers do this for you, contact us.

Make sure to record the calls, then upload the transcripts to CustomerIQ and you’ll have complete data. Re-run the analysis above and you’re ready to assemble.

10. Assemble and share your ideal customer profile

Now we need to put it all together. To do this we're going to go through each view and hide groups that aren't necessarily important to our team.

Then, click "Add to doc" and select your ICP doc to embed the view

Once we have assembled all our views we can format our doc and share with our team.

Monitor and refine

Just as solutions change, problems change. It’s important to continually monitor these views and your ICP doc for changes.

Look for patterns in your closed-won analysis. How are these deals entering your pipeline? Are there any new mentions in the sales process?

Questions or feedback? Let us know!

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