Best Practices , Customer Experience
January 24 | Blogs
Your ICP Includes a User and Buyer
Estimated read time 7 min

Identifying your ideal customer profiles (ICP)  is a foundational component of building your go-to market strategy.  While many businesses recognize the need to define their ICP, they fail to grasp that in the B2B space the buyer and the user within an organization are often not the same person.

When you design products, you’re building for your customers and have to align your offering with their needs. Those needs are not just the pain points of the buyer but also the user experience in implementing that solution.

For example, if the product is designed as a tool for HR, the buyer you address could be a head of talent, head of people, or a chief human resources officer (CHRO). But users of the tool can extend to more categories, which is why you have to make sure you have the full picture for the customer profile.

That includes the industry segment, the department, and the day-to-day of the people who work in it. You have to be able to speak to how the product will be used, what impact it will make, and how it will help individuals in the organization. 

Integrating the user perspective 

Say the product you sell is HR  technology, the person buying may be someone in HR who needs the system in place. But the users on the team will be the ones who have to deal with the impact it is  going to have on their day-to-day life, and it’s essential to take that into account. 

You have to not just consider which problem you’re trying to solve and what type of tooling you have, but also how long onboarding will take – whether  it’s one week, 30 days, or three months. You have to be able to identify the milestones for that timeframe to clarify expectations for your customer. 

Understanding all that to set realistic expectations is super important. You need to know how much education and training will be needed for the product. That entails being  able to answer  the following questions about your offering from the user perspective: 

  • How do you measure the success of the product being used? 
  • What is involved in learning how to use it?
  • How much time will it take to see impact from the product?
  • What is the rate of turnover in the department that requires new people to learn it?

All those questions have a strong bearing on the user perspective. The answers to them would determine whether or not they will want to renew their subscriptions and if that customer’s lifetime value (LTV) increases.

For example, say you offer a learning management system (LMS). A measure of success may be a milestone of three  lessons that  80% of the team has taken within three months. A measure for a goal achieved could be scores, say 90 or above for 90% of those who completed the course. 

Such results would prove a positive impact to both the buyer who made the decision to invest in the LMS and the users it is intended for. They would see the effort involved is worthwhile.

Worth the effort 

A big factor for users is how much effort they have to put in to get something out of the product. Zoe Chance touched on the issue of the customer effort score in her book, Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen.

The customer effort score reflects the user’s perceived effort for using the product.  If perceived effort is high, then no one is going to want to use the product.  

To effectively sell the product for the long term, you’d have to influence  the user perception to make them find the effort  worthwhile. If the users don’t  think they get enough value out of the product or that not enough people are willing to use it, they will not embrace it.

Accordingly, you have to fully understand the actual effort relative to the problems they want to solve and the obstacles in place that may prevent them from adopting your solution. That way you can speak to the objections and clear the way to overcome them. 

The seller has to understand both the product buyer and the user in order to  offer a more compelling story to motivate the purchase. How compelling can you be to the buyer or influential toward the buyer for the user to want to use the product? It’s really about the influence around it. 

Pursuing the ideal 

Thinking through the cost-benefit analysis for the business also helps weed out companies that are not the ideal fit for your product. Thinking through the cost-benefit analysis for the business also helps weed out companies that are not the ideal fit for your product. 

Customers who are not going to renew don’t offer the value of LTV.  Make sure you are targeting the right businesses to maximize that LTV by taking the user experience into account.

It’s natural for businesses to focus on buyers for their ICP. After all they’re the ones the salespeople pitch to and the ones who will either approve or decline the offering. 

But ignoring the user part of the equation is short-sided because the people who actually use the product at work are the ones who will determine the LTV of the relationship.

As retention is key to LTV, you need to bear the user experience in mind to gain stickiness and recommendations for renewals. Often the buyer is not really thinking of everything the user needs, so it’s up to you to bring it up.

Poised for success

What’s the best way to achieve alignment between the buyer, the user, and the seller? Having the end in mind for the user experience. That’s why it is helpful to bring members of the  customer success (CS) team into the buying cycle to speak to the users.

Customer Success Managers and/or Implementations team members make customers feel cared for. More importantly, they  know what to do to mitigate issues that arise down the road 00 not just for 30 days but for 90 days and beyond.

Another big piece of understanding the customer is the time commitment. It’s important to be clear on the onboarding process and to make sure the buyer understands what will be needed from them to make the process move swiftly and efficiently. 

They don’t always realize there may be work on their end. Though a  PLG product may not need onboarding, everyday B2B SaaS products typically do require human beings to move the process along. 

You’ll want everyone on the same page to understand what that’s going to look like. That’s why I recommend involving the users in these conversations whenever possible.   

The best possible outcome

Ideally, you hit it out of the park with both the buyer and the seller. In that setup, you get users who say, “I can’t do my job without  this.”

That’s the ultimate goal of  achieving product stickiness. You gain a customer for life who will demand having that product even if they go to another company.  

Your best customer becomes  a champion for your product, and that only comes as the result of establishing a strong relationship with it. Accordingly, you want to lay the foundation for that relationship as early as you can in the process.

When you truly understand the impact that you have on both buyer and seller , then you’re more likely to sell more products.

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