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A Simple Concept for a Simple Time

For many in sales and marketing, a basic tool has been the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Sounds simple, and it is.
Problem is that it doesn't work in a complicated and increasingly complex world. Not in most cases anyways.

Where does it work?
If you sell / market a single product to a single market and a single customer type, though a single channel, and deliver common value to all, then an ICP as we've learned it can work. Anybody here have that scenario? (I hear Crickets). I didn't think so.

An old expression goes, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.".

An ICP is a concept whose time has come, whose clock really should stop ticking. It is misleading in nature, and such a blunt instrument that more damage is caused by wasting time, money, and effort in aid of not much.

Proof?
Okay, lets start an argument - not with us, but between sales and marketing in most companies. Start with a simple survey.
Ask your marketing team to (independent of each other & without collaboration) describe the ICP they are using. Than ask your sales team to (independent of each other) describe their sales ICP.

Compare notes.
If there is significant alignment, you must be in nirvana, or as Thomas More coined - Utopia. Probably no place.
If you want to stir the pot even further, ask each team member Why they chose what they chose.

Here are a few test questions for whatever they produce.

  • What value is intended for the ICP?
  • What customer vertical/size/geography/stage of business is this ICP relevant for?
  • What specific offer does the the ICP receive? Is it truly the same for every customer in the ICP?
  • Do each of your sales channels have exactly the same ICP as your direct sales team?

If all 4 conditions are not true, you need more than one Ideal Customer Profile. The implications for your GoToMarket strategy are significant and far reaching.

The ICP is done - stick a fork in it!

We'll be expanding on this topic over the coming months to provide valuable options.
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