ICP 2.0: Identifying Your Unideal Customer Profile

We can’t know who we are until we know who we’re not. The same goes for your customers. Focus on customers who will be long term supporters over everyone else.

The majority of organizations focus on their Ideal Customer Profile. They try to identify exactly the right customer to sell to so they can target those types of individuals. 

But what if we’ve been thinking about it the wrong way.

Maybe instead of identifying the ICP, we should be trying to find our UCP or Unideal Customer Profile. Think about it this way, we can’t know who we are until we know who we’re not.

Consensus found its greatest success and was even pulled back from the brink of disaster by determining who we shouldn’t be selling to before we figured out who we should. 

Identify your Unideal Customer Profile (UCP)

Selling to a customer who doesn’t fit your organization can end up hurting you in the long run. A few years ago, we realized we were falling into this trap. 

In 2020, 40% of customers churned, indicating they were actually our UCP, so we changed who we sold to. In 2022 that number was reduced to 8.5% of customers churned telling us we have finally found our ICP. But this change only happened once we incorporated the UCP concept. 

Here’s what you need to understand about UCP:

  • Accept what you are not 
  • All bookings aren’t good bookings
  • Being too good at sales can hurt you early

Write up a list of the type of customer that’s a bad customer for your organization and then refuse to accept them as clients. If they try to give you money, be prepared for the consequences that will happen if you sell to them such as high churn levels, underselling your product, or bad reviews. I recommend paying higher commission to deals that have stronger correlation to ICP and paying lower commission to deals that have stronger UCP correlation.

Demo Qualify to Reduce ~50% Wasted Time

Customers see demos as their most trusted source of information when going through the sales process, so it makes sense that they want to see a demo of your product as early in their journey as possible. But this demand for demos causes bottlenecks and deals stalling.

30%-50% of sales meetings are wasted or premature according to the 2023 Sales Engineer Compensation and Workload Report. That number could be reduced to as low as 5% by using a combination of tools and techniques (such as LinkedIn, email, video, and automation) to engage with the customer between live meetings.

As you prep for a call, send the customer a software video demo as a sneak peak into the full presentation. 

This allows the customer:

  • Time to digest the information 
  • Come prepared for a more detailed discussion
  • Understand what use cases this solution addresses
  • Determine if additional stakeholders should be present

Not only will this technique smooth the process for the customer, it will reduce the number of unqualified demos giving you more time to spend on the deals that are more likely to close.

Buyers Sell, Sellers Buy

In the last ten years, the role between buyer and seller has flipped. B2B buyers now want their buying experience to be more similar to their B2C experiences. They want to research on their own, they want to do it on their schedule, and they want to do it without a sales rep hovering over their shoulder. 

With buyers spending very little time with vendors (only about 17% of their time with all vendors being considered according to Gartner). They’re going to be the one that convinces the internal stakeholders to buy or not. You have to enable your champion the way you enable your sales team.

How to Take it to the Next Level

Failure isn’t the end, unless you don’t learn anything from it. We learned a lot from having so many of our customers churn early in our history. Every time a company dropped us, we reflected on why it happened and what we could do to change that outcome in the future.

Use your failures as clues as to why these customers might not be a good fit. Do they see you as essential or just nice to have? Do they need certain functionality you don’t provide? Do you not work with their processes seamlessly?

To incorporate these technique into your process, you should: 

  1. Create a UCP list of types of businesses you will NOT accept and then stick to it! You have to accept that not all revenue is good revenue.  
  1. Create a video or message to do discovery between a meeting set and hold. This will maintain the deal momentum even when you aren’t on a call with the customer. 
  1. Accept that sellers don’t close, buyers do. Focus on enabling your champion to sell for you the way your AEs already do.

Be Who You Are

It can be hard to figure out who you are as an organization and even harder to figure out who you aren’t. Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  You have to do some intense self reflection before you really know who you are.

If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. It’s important to understand that some customers won’t be a good fit for your solution. And that’s ok! 

Being able to say “No” to buyers who are unideal for your business is powerful. It gives you permission to stop chasing leads that won’t close or will end up churning in a year. Once you do, you can narrow your focus to those customers who will end up loyal and long term supporters.

"Early on in my Tech career, I had a conversation with a business veteran that's stayed with me through the decades. The conversation was about how to run a business and the minimum number of metrics to know if a business was healthy. The business veteran argued that you only need two numbers, cash flow and sales pipeline. One looks to the past, cash flow is always king, and the other, sales pipeline, looks to the health of the business in the future. The problem with the pipeline, though, is that it can be artificially inflated with, as Rex calls it Unideal Customer Profiles (UCPs). You might think you've got an amazing pipeline coverage ratio of, say 5X (the sales funnel is 5 times bigger than the sales target so you only need to close 1 in every 5 opportunities), but it could be full of time-consuming prospects who are either never going to close or, if they do, are going to be unprofitable by churning early or worse, cause reputational damage. Sales teams are always going to be optimistic about the size, health and qualification of their sales funnel, it's part of the DNA of salespeople to be optimistic; especially if Sales Leaders are keeping a close eye on pipeline coverage. We've even created a whole language and set of abbreviations around sales funnel health, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) it goes on and on. The truth, though, is that Sales Leaders now have no choice but to automate pipeline servicing and qualification and the tool right at the front of the queue to do this is Demo automation. There's an avalanche of research proving that the number one ask from B2B Tech Buyers is access to Demos. Consensus allows this to be automated so that both Buyers and Vendors can qualify each other in or out. The result is quality and predictability at the top of the Sales Funnel. For a Sales Leader, it might mean the pipeline coverage is reduced but there'll be a much higher certainty that the funnel is full of ICPs and not UCPs."
Don Carmichael
CEO & Chief PreSales Evangelist
“Using Consensus, we're able to filter customers by interest earlier in the sales cycle, so our Sales Engineers can focus on the most qualified leads. This has helped us increase our success rate and close more deals. Prospects can consume high-level demos from our website, or these demos can be provided by our Sales Development Representatives, in the early qualification phase. This helps build vision for the prospect early on, which results in a better filtering early in the funnel and an overall better experience for the customer when talking to our Sales Engineers. Finally, it allows our Account Executives and Sales Engineers to really focus on the ICP.”
Amanda Bertucci
Senior Sales Engineer
Consensus is Intelligent Demo Automation that scales your presales function.
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