Why creating a non-ideal customer profile will benefit your business

When it comes to B2B sales, everything is focused on the ideal customer. Company ethos, mission statements, marketing campaigns and sales materials are all crafted to appeal to the target audience. And rightly so.

The ideal customer is where the money is. But there’s a lot to be said for focusing on non-ideal customers too. Especially when you consider that lost productivity and poorly managed leads cost companies at least $1 trillion every year, and that sales reps waste 50% of their time on unproductive prospecting.

Non-ideal customers take up valuable resources that should be spent on your target audience. Knowing who this type of customer is will save you time and money, and dramatically improve sales performance.

In a previous post, we showed you how to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and zero in on the right prospects. Now, we’re going to talk out who not to sell to.  

The three types of customer

Every person that lands on your website and interacts with your business can be placed into one of three categories:

  • Ideal customer — the people your product was made for. The ideal customer is someone that fits the ICP.
  • Secondary customer — a customer that doesn’t quite fit into your target audience but might provide value. The secondary customer may not have the same kind of budget or demands as your ideal customer so wouldn’t warrant the same level of focus, but you wouldn’t turn away their buying intent.
  • Non-ideal customer — a customer that you don’t want to deal with. They could be tyre kickers looking to get something for free or taking interest in your company to steal your ideas. Or simply someone that your product isn’t suitable for. For example, if you’ve built a tool aimed at helping manufacturing organisations improve processes, it won’t offer any value to a B2C company. Therefore, it’s better to turn them away from the start.  

How having a non-ideal customer profile improves your business

Having a clear idea of your ideal customer helps to create marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience. Having a clear idea of who isn’t the ideal customer tightens everything up, leaving visitors in no doubt what your brand is about and who your product is for.

A non-ICP will:

  • Increase sales productivity — filtering out the customers you don’t want to attract will leave behind the ones you do, meaning sales reps can cut down on time wasted going after prospects that are never likely to purchase.
  • Improve lead qualification — knowledge of who not to target allows the marketing team to identify and pass on better quality leads to salespeople
  • Produce better content — a non-ICP allows you to hone your content so that visitors have a clear picture of what your business is about. This prevents pointless interaction.

Keeping non-ideal customers away

Cold prospecting aside, the majority of B2B sales come through leads qualified by the marketing team and passed on to the sales. So the answer to achieving a non-ICP blackout is in how you market your business and products.

Here are two things you need to do:

Align sales and marketing teams around the non-ideal customer, to identify them more quickly and avoid investing money pulling them into the sales pipeline.

Aligned sales and marketing teams are the key to business success. And just like it pays to create a clear definition of who the ideal customer is, make sure there is no doubt about who you don’t want to sell to.  Write up a clear mission statement around your non-ICP: “We can’t offer value to this type of customer. They don’t benefit our business and we should avoid selling to them.”

With everyone on the same page, you’ll notice improved performance across sales and marketing.

Tweak your marketing message

Look at which areas of your website receive the most traffic from non-ideal customers, find out why this is and change it.

Typically, non-ICPs find their way into your funnels because your message is too broad or not clear enough.

Make sure your marketing message clearly states what you offer and who your product is for. If your product is for large corporations, include that in your message to put off small businesses. If a lot of your non-ideal customers are coming to you looking for something for free, add a visible price tag. This will instantly alienate them.

A good example to follow is that of ProsperWorks, a CRM for small-to-medium sized businesses, which includes pricing alongside target audience in its message:

“ProsperWorks CRM for SMB Plans Starting At $19/Mo.”

Simple and effective. If you’re an international conglomerate, this product isn’t for you. If you were expecting a freebie, you’re in the wrong place.

From instant demos and online sales meetings to social media interactions, knowing who not to sell to is every bit as beneficial to your business as the audience you’ve built your product around. Create a non-ICP to dedicate more time to the prospects that matter.