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Puget Sound Business Journal

From the January 28, 2005 print edition
Sales solutions

Create Ideal Client Profile to increase your sales
Andrea Sittig-Rolf

This week is the first question-and-answer column written by local sales professional Andrea Sittig-Rolf. Readers with sales-related questions can send an e-mail to Sittig-Rolf at the address mentioned at the end of this article.

Question: I have several prospects in my pipeline who continue to put me off, or who don't return my calls. How can I get them to be more responsive?

Answer: Maybe the dilemma has less to do with your prospects and more to do with your choice of prospects. Working with the right prospects is in direct correlation with a positive level of responsiveness.

Imagine how powerful it would be to predict which prospects would actually turn into customers before you even began working with them. What if you had a sales tool that would help you assess a prospect's likelihood of becoming a customer? What if you had the power to create that tool? Well, guess what, you do.

To begin developing this powerful new tool, take a look at your best customer, not your best prospect. What is it about your best customers that make them so great? What is the application for your product or service at your best customers? How many employees do they have? What is their estimated annual revenue? How many locations do they have? What is the title of your contact at your best customer? These questions should all be considered when assessing your best customer and creating your powerful new sales tool; the Ideal Client Profile.

The Ideal Client Profile, or ICP, is defined as a set of criteria or characteristics that make up your perfect customer. Once created, your ICP becomes an invaluable tool in cleaning up your current pipeline as well as assessing future prospects. To begin creating your Ideal Client Profile, answer the following questions:

  • What is the value my products or services bring to my ideal client?
  • What is the end result my products or services create for my ideal client?
  • What industry or industries does my ideal client represent?
  • How do they go to market? (Direct to consumers? Through channel partners or dealers? Retail stores?)
  • What is their estimated annual revenue?
  • How many employees do they have?
  • How many locations do they have?
  • What is the title of my contact or decision maker at my ideal client?
  • What is the trigger event that occurs to indicate a need for my products or services? (Customer who is moving, remodeling, downsizing, growing, etc.)
  • Who are my ideal client's customers?

Once you have answered the above list of questions, you have created your Ideal Client Profile and now have an amazing tool to use to clean up your pipeline and assess future prospects.

First, clean up your pipeline. Compare the prospects in your current pipeline with your new Ideal Client Profile. For any prospects who share less than 80 percent of the criteria in your Ideal Client Profile that have not been responding to you, remove from your pipeline immediately. The prospects who match your Ideal Client Profile at 80 percent or better who are responding to you should be your focus. (You will notice a direct correlation between how closely your prospect matches your Ideal Client Profile and how responsive they are. It is likely that the closer the match, the better the level of responsiveness.)

Second, use your Ideal Client Profile as an assessment tool to determine your best prospects moving forward. Each time you receive a lead or referral, compare it to your ICP to determine whether or not you will pursue it. You can also use your Ideal Client Profile as a tool to create a prospect list, again by using the criteria of your ICP as the same criteria for creating the list.

This new tool will help you decide with whom and where you will spend your time. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is say "no" and stop working with a prospect who isn't really a prospect at all. You' ll be amazed at the new level of responsiveness gained just by identifying and working with only those prospects who match your Ideal Client Profile.

ANDREA SITTIG-ROLF is a former vice president of programs at Sales & Marketing Executives, Seattle chapter, and is president of Andrea Sittig-Rolf, Redmond. Reach her at 206-769-4886, or .

Andrea Sittig-Rolf

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.

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