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Why Would We Ever Do Anything Outside Our ICP?

by David Brock on January 26th, 2018

I just read a good article on ABM, ABS, ABE  (Account Based Marketing, Sales, Everything).  It was well written and provided good advice on how to be more focused and effective in these areas.  Here’s the link.

In every article I read on the topic, one of the first things that comes up with ABM/S/E is focusing on your ICP–Ideal Customer Profile.

I agree 200%!

My issue is, why do we seem to limit this to ABM/S/E?  Everything we do in sales and marketing, by definition, must focus on our ICP!  Why would we waste time, money, and resources chasing after anyone or any organization that is outside our ICP?

This shouldn’t be an “AHA” moment, it’s just plain common sense and great business.

Unfortunately, common sense doesn’t seem so common.

We are deluged, daily, with meaningless, irrelevant messages.  We miss the good ones, simply because they are lost in the volume of garbage.

We have the tools that enable us to identify, target, and develop personalized, relevant, impactful messages to people and organizations in our ICP.  Instead, of using these tools to help us do this,  we chose use them to blanket the world with messages.  And when we don’t get the response rate we want, we send more. (A fool with a tool is still a fool)

Sales people want to fill their funnels.  Rather than focusing viciously on prospects and opportunities that fit their ICP, they cast a wider net–filling their pipelines with stuff that shouldn’t be in there in the first place.  As a result their win rates plummet, their sales cycles get longer, and their managers beat them up for  more pipeline coverage.

I recently saw a company that had a 7 times coverage model and still wasn’t making their numbers!  That’s a sales management problem–they have no idea what their ICP is, so they keep casting a wider net.  I suspect if I look at them in 6 months, they will have a 10+ coverage model and still not be making their numbers.

ICP is not a difficult concept.  It is sales and marketing 101—“Sell to the people that have the problems your product solves, don’t sell to the people that don’t!”

But why don’t we pay attention to it?  Why is it that ABM/S/E has heightened our awareness of it?

Not defining and focusing on your ICP is simply laziness and sloppiness.  It’s bad marketing, bad selling, bad leadership.

Is this that difficult a concept?  What am I missing?

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2 Comments
  1. Andy Blackstone permalink

    Dave, I agree 100%. When I work with startups and early stage companies, I add an additional filter to the ICP – the idea of “smallest viable market.” I’ve found that even if the company has a good idea of their ICP, they often cast a much wider net of prospects than they have sales resources to cover. When I ask what number of new customers would make them ecstatic over the next year, they’ll answer something like “5” – and the next question is “Why are you trying to target 2,000 prospects when you only need 100?” Smallest viable market can allow them to tighten their focus, perhaps lower cost of sales by focusing close to home, force them to focus on their highest probability prospects, and on and on.

    • Andy, thanks for the great comment. I couldn’t agree more. When I see people struggle, I suggest they tighten their targeting criteria. IT’s completely counterintuitive, most cast a wider net, adversely impacting pipeline quality.

      Always love seeing you here and your comments.

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