Think of your ideal customers… What do they look like?
- They found you organically. They cost next to nothing to acquire.
- They have the problem you’re solving… When they land on your site, they go: “Oh, that’s for me.”.
- They experience the value of your product right away; it gets them the business outcome they seek.
- They barely use your support. Everything just makes sense for them.
- They don’t churn. In fact, they want more of your product. More seats, more features, more usage. More, more, more.
- They can’t help but talk about your product… with other companies, at conferences, on their blog. They’re happy to give insights into new opportunities.
- Their business is growing. They don’t ever think your product is too expensive because it delivers on value.
- They provide a never-ending stream of feedback. it motivates your team; your product can’t help but get better.
Sounds amazing, no?
Well, those customers exist. It’s your job to find them, and then, find more and more of them.
An Ideal Customer Profile Framework for B2B
- They’re ready
They know they have the problem you’re solving. There’s a sense of urgency you can use to sell your product.
- They’re willing
They’re ready to solve that problem. There’s a champion and a strong catalyst for change: a merger & acquisition, an investment, a request for proposal, etc.
- They’re able
They have the money and authority to solve the problem. You want as few decision-makers as possible because the longer your sales cycle is, the more money you’ll need to raise.
- They can be made successful
Your solution is not held back by technical limitations; it can solve the problem. Your Jury – the key decision-makers – personally stand to win. Someone might get promoted as a result of implementing your solution. There’s a clear ROI. Success can mean a lot of different things to organizations, but delivering value and making businesses successful is critical.
- It’s cost-effective to acquire them
User acquisition is never an after-thought. You always need to know how you’re going to acquire customers. If you need to speak to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to get a deal done, you won’t be able to ramp up as fast as if you sell a more transactional solution to the CEOs of SMBs. You want to make sure you’re able to reach the right decision-makers quickly.
- There’s ascension potential
There’s an opportunity to Land-and-Expand to sell more seats, licenses, features, etc; upsell and cross-sell are possibilities. You don’t want to be locked-in with your initial deal.
- There’s potential for advocacy
If made successful, customers can spread the word with their friends or colleagues, refer your business, write testimonies, or more. However, some industries are opaque, and word of mouth won’t work. It’s always better to know that ahead of time.
Ultimately, it’s your role to define your organization’s criteria for what makes a great customer.
To go fast, ask yourself: how can you have maximum impact with what your business currently has or could offer within the next 3 months?
Don’t look too far ahead. You’re looking for the lowest hanging fruit; the ideal customer for your current product.
Why Ideal Customer Profiles Matter
Signing 10 customers that fit your ideal customer profile will be more impactful than signing a large number of random customers.
Customers will always ask for product enhancements. These requests need to align with your vision of the future.
Initially, you must be laser-focused on a single market, a single problem, and a single B2B customer profile. Absolute focus is the key to reaching Product-Market fit in your target market.
Startups fail when they try to attack multiple market segments (sometimes believing that they’re focused on a single customer segment) or target every imaginable market segment, but your startup’s solution is not for everyone. Choosing an entry market is a decision you must make if you are to Cross the Chasm.
To focus your efforts initially, you’ll create your buyer persona – an ideal customer profile – around the thing your prospects share: a business problem.
B2B Customer Profile Questions – Creating Buyer Personas
Looking at the information you gathered during the problem interview phase, you’ll identify common patterns and average the differences for your demographic data. For example, if eight of your 15 prospects were women, you’ll create the profile of a woman.
Go through the customer interview data and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is their common role?
- What are their responsibilities?
- How many people report to them?
- With which department are they affiliated?
- How long have they been working in this company?
- What character traits do they share?
- What are their common objectives?
- What other problems do they share?
- What tasks are they trying to accomplish?
- What are their personal and professional goals?
- How do they measure themselves?
- How do they define success?
- Who has influence over them?
- Whom do they work with?
- What technologies do they use?
- What values do they share?
- How are decisions made in their company?
- What is their work like?
- What is their day like?
- What is their lifestyle (married, single, urban, suburban, etc.)?
- Are they decision-makers?
- Do they have budget? Whom do they have to work with?
- How are they evaluated?
- How would they calculate Return on Investment (ROI)?
- How comfortable are they with technology?
- How mature is their company?
If you feel the same problem is shared by potential customers of different profiles (it’s often the case), you can create additional B2B customer profiles.
Good ideal customer profiles communicate the essential information, are quick to create (and update), and help drive towards action. You can use a customer profile template to present them (as shown in the ideal customer profile examples below) or a simple one-pager.
Ideal Customer Profile Examples for B2B
Your ideal customer profile examples will evolve as you learn more about the needs and motivations of your ideal customers, but for now, this is an important step to help focus your customer development and sales efforts on your ideal client.
More on the Ideal B2B Customer Profile
- How to Create a Compelling B2B Value Proposition With Early Hypotheses
- The Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want Course 🔥
- The Lean B2B Canvas – A Free Tool to Iterate Value Propositions
⚡⚡ Enjoyed this content? I go into way more detail on this subject in Lean B2B. It covers the ins and outs of finding traction in the market for B2B products. Check it out »
Download the First 6 Chapters for Free
This sampler covers the differences between B2B and Business-to-Customer (B2C) product-market validation, shows you how to define your vision for success, find early adopters, select market opportunities and assess a venture's risk. Download The First 6 Chapters Today »