Most companies base their ideal customer profile(s) on the characteristics of their existing customers. They first identify their "best" customers (which usually means their largest and/or most profitable customers), and then they identify what those "best" customers have in common. Most ideal customer profiles use "firmographic" attributes such as:
- Annual revenues
- Number of employees
- Industry vertical
- The "footprint" of the organization (local, regional, national, global)
- The most relevant organizational unit or department
- The business situation (for example, is the company in growth or decline)
Here are the three questions I add to the conventional process:
- What kinds of companies have derived significant (i.e. above-average) value from using our product or service, and why have these companies obtained greater value?
- What kinds of companies will be receptive to our marketing and sales efforts and thus be more likely to buy from us?
- What kinds of companies can we acquire as customers at an acceptable cost?
Understanding what is driving the exceptional value may enable you to expand the definition of your ideal customer. For example, you may find that the companies deriving exceptional value are primarily found in one industry. However, when you identify why those companies are obtaining greater value, you may find that the same issue or challenge also exists in other types of organizations that you do not currently serve. So, by answering the why question, you may well uncover an entirely new group of "ideal" prospects.