What Is an ICP in Sales?

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If your business has just started out, you and your sales representatives might find yourselves struggling to pinpoint exactly who would be a good potential customer or not. This could lead to a lot of frustration and time wasted as you try to sell to people who will never end up buying.

What if we told you that there was a quick and easy way to identify the best potential customers to sell to? Called an ICP, this essential business tool could be the treasure map to sales success for your business.

What is an ICP?

Though hip-hop fans might instinctively read this acronym as the band name “Insane Clown Posse,” the term has quite a different meaning in the business world.

An ICP for sales stands for Ideal Customer Profile. This is exactly what it sounds like: a detailed, listed description of the perfect customer for the business’s product. These attributes will be based on your company industry, long- and short-term goals, product, market niche, and more.

Having an ICP will help your business determine which potential customers in the market are most likely to be interested in your product. Not only will you be able to produce more targeted and appealing advertisements, but your sales reps will also be able to make more effective sales pitches, increasing the number of leads and customers your business will receive.

Then, during the sales process, a business can use its ICP to judge how likely a lead is to make a purchase. This helps sales reps compare the sales readiness of different leads and prioritize their attention to the leads most likely to turn into customers. 

In short, an ICP helps businesses attract more customers, manage its sales process, and make more sales. Any business would want to implement an ICP to reap these benefits!

If you’re wondering how to create your own ICP, look no further than these below guides.

Elements of an ICP for B2C Companies

To start, let’s look at the elements of an ICP for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. Because these businesses market and sell directly to consumers, their ICP will obviously identify the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of their ideal individual customers.

The most common demographic elements of an ICP for B2C companies are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Location

Then, the company might look at psychographic and behavioral elements such as:

  • Preferred communication channels and styles
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Reasons for purchasing
  • Average order value
  • Interest in advertisements

For each of these attributes, list out the specific traits or behaviors that would indicate a person who would purchase your product. You may want to add additional attributes depending on your business model and goals, such as “average order value” if you’re looking to retarget previous customers.

Using these qualifications, a business can figure out if the customer has the budget, authority, need, and urgency timeframe to make a purchase.

Elements of an ICP for B2B Companies

Though it might be easy enough to get a grasp on what an ICP for a B2C business looks like, what about an ICP for business-to-business (B2B) companies? Should the business measure the buyer company, or the buying representative from the company?

The answer is both, which makes an ICP for B2B companies a little bit trickier than their B2C counterparts. 

In general, a B2B ICP will look for firmographic information on the buyer company. Some elements the company might look for are the target firm’s:

  • Firm size by employee count
  • Annual revenue
  • Industry
  • Growth rate by year
  • Individual team size
  • Location

Luckily for B2B companies, this sort of information is usually public knowledge on the company’s website, plus on other regulatory websites if the company is publicly listed.

Then, a B2B ICP would also speak to company employees to determine the target business’s behavioral elements, such as its:

  • Preferred communication channels
  • Short term goals
  • Long term goals
  • Current challenges

 Using this information, your business can determine if the target company has the budget and need for your product.

But wait! B2B companies have an additional challenge on their plate: finding and appealing to someone in the target company who has the authority to make purchasing decisions. For this, B2B companies’ ICPs also frequently ask for information such as an individual’s department and job title. 

Though it would be possible to glean firmographic information from a lower-level employee, sales reps should save their pitches for managers, department heads, and CEOs who have true control over the company’s purse strings.

How Do I Use My ICP?

So now that you’ve listed out the attributes for your business’s ICP, what do you do with the list? There are two simple ways to use the ICP: make qualification questions and make buyer personas.

Make Qualification Questions

If your business model relies on one-on-one sales prospecting methods where sales reps go out and chat up individual customers, you should use your ICP attributes as guidelines to make qualification questions. Your sales reps will ask these questions during sales calls to “qualify” each lead – in other words, seeing how closely they follow the ICP and judging if they’re likely to purchase or not. 

For example, if your ICP lists “married woman with at least two children” as your ideal customer, your qualifying question could ask your lead, “What is life like at home?” to subtly and naturally determine if the lead fits the bill.

Make Buyer Personas

On the other hand, if your business relies on one-to-many lead generation tactics such as advertising and SEO, it would be more effective to take your ICP one step further and make buyer personas.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters created from the traits listed in your ICP. For example, if your ICP was again a “married woman with at least two children,” your ICP could be a 53-year-old stay-at-home mom named Susan who lives in Kentucky with her partner and two elementary-school-aged children. 

The point of a buyer persona is to give marketers a face to put their promotions to, personalizing communications. Though Susan may be fictitious, having her face and backstory in mind reminds marketers that real people are reading and seeing their company’s advertisements, and make more emotional and in-depth appeals. In other words, it humanizes marketing efforts and boosts their effectiveness, driving more leads to your business.


By creating an ideal customer profile, a business can leverage the power of qualification questions and buyer personas to attract, process, and appeal to customers more effectively.

This helps a business scale up operations and build closer relationships with its customers, improving both its bottom line and reputation. If your small business doesn’t have one already, consider making an ICP to hone your business operations and make more sales than ever before.

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