Six ways to research for a better B2B SaaS ICPs

Traffic acquisition means nothing without monetization, which is where your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) comes in. The problem? Your SaaS company’s ICP may be too generic using external data sources when you have most of what you need inside your company.
Want articles like this straight into your inbox?
Subscribe here

I have a passion for understanding human behavior.

That passion made me realize that most SaaS companies aren’t growing efficiently for a simple reason: they’re too focused on acquisition and not focused enough on monetization.

What does that mean?

Look at any form of digital marketing out there and it’s all about driving website traffic. But, you could have a site that gets millions of visitors and it won’t mean anything if you aren’t converting that traffic into leads or paying customers.

A change needs to happen, meaning you have to switch your focus from traffic acquisition to actually making sales. 

And for that change to occur, you need a better, more specific ICP for your SaaS company.

ICP Research – The Key to SaaS Monetization

About three-quarters of SaaS companies spend all of their time on acquisition, but that creates a time disparity: almost all that time goes to getting traffic through the door, with only 25% dedicated to turning that traffic into something tangible, like sales and client retention.

I think of it as an addiction to traffic.

And if you’re not careful, it’s an addiction that’ll pull your focus away from monetization because you’re “chasing the dragon” of high traffic numbers. An ICP brings you back down to earth by shifting your focus to the number that really matters, which is how many subscriptions you’re getting.

So, what is an ICP?

It’s a profile of your ideal customer, and it gives you a deep understanding of them to stand any chance of marketing effectively to your prospects.

Right now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “I already know who I’m marketing to,” and I’m glad you at least have some idea. But I’d argue what you know already likely isn’t enough for a simple reason: most SaaS businesses base their ICP on externally researched data.

That means your ICP is too generic. It’s based on the same research that 20 other competitors used, so there’s nothing to set your ICP apart from any other company. Therefore, there’s not a lot of difference between your best and your worst customers because you don’t know what each one of them looks like.

Addressing that concern is the point of ICP research.

The Six ICP Research Activities That Grow Your SaaS Sales

“Oh no, more research,” I hear you say. I get you, but you also need to know that most of the ICP research you’ll do comes from internal resources. It won’t cost you much, it’s something you can already access, and it’s going to help you monetize your business better than ever before.

Activity 1 – CRM Data Analysis

I can safely assume you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system and that your sales team is already using that CRM to record calls and manage client relationships.

What you may not realize is your CRM is a potential goldmine of information that leads to your ICP. Why? It contains information about your high-value and long-term customers (hint: you want more of those) and the customers who’ve lapsed, or the leads who never turned into paying customers in the first place.

Your task is to feed the data that’s already in your CRM into the SPICED framework: situation, pain, impact, compelling events, and decisions. 

Start with your high-value clients. What was their situation before they signed up? What pain did they feel, what impact did that pain have, and what was the event that compelled them to sign up? Finally, what pushed them over the line to make a decision?

Answer all of those questions and you’ve just “spiced” up your ICP research with real data that highlights what your best customers look like.

Activity 2 – Chat Log Analysis

This one’s self-explanatory, and if you’re already recording calls into your CRM, you’re most of the way there.

Analyze the transcripts of the calls.

This simple activity helps you to uncover your prospects’ FUDs – fears, uncertainties, and doubts – regarding what they’re seeing on your website. Look for the questions your prospects are asking in calls because those questions highlight the information you’re not giving to them on your site. You’ll get a better idea of customer pain points. Plus, you’ll develop a blueprint for creating a site that offers the answers your ICP customers need to see.

Activity 3 – Call Listening

Closely linked to chat log analysis is call listening.

Why do both?

When you listen, you hear the customer first-hand. You hear their tone and the language they use to describe the problems they face. Terms. Acronyms. Specific ways they talk about problems. It’s all valuable language that you can inject into your website so you write copy visitors actually understand.

It’s the old copy trick – talk in their language.

To make that happen, you have to listen to the language your ICP uses.

Activity 4 – Employee Interviews

The last of the research activities you can conduct in-house is employee interviews.

Granted, this is a relatively time-consuming form of research. But by carrying out employee interviews (or running surveys – more on those below), you get a snapshot of what somebody who sits in your call center all day hears from customers.

You’re getting the other side of the coin after listening to the people who call your team. In other words, your interviews help you to identify the key themes about which your prospects talk (pains, challenges, etc.) through the lens of your sales team.

Activity 5 – Surveys

I touched on surveys above, and they can be great ways to quantify perspectives from your salespeople if your team is too large for you to run face-to-face interviews.

But surveys are also sources of additional data because they allow you to look beyond the data you’ve already gathered.

Similar to CRM analysis, surveys let you identify the differences and nuances between your customer segments. The difference being that you’re actively sending these surveys to your current customers, often segmented by specific criteria. For instance, you could create surveys aimed at small, medium, and large businesses, which are three customer segments that have different pains and needs.

Ideally, you’ll send surveys to 200 or 300 customers, giving you a good sample size. And you’ll find that the answers you receive quantify the signals you’ve already identified with the other four activities, giving you more confidence in the approach you take to marketing to your ICP.

Activity 6 – Copy Testing

Copy testing on your current websites helps you to see where your message is falling short. Does your messaging address the FUGs and is it SPICED? If not, there’s a disconnect in place because you’re not speaking to whatever problems your ICPs are telling you they need to solve.

Copy testing is also good for benchmarking.

The other five activities identify insights and opportunities, essentially leading to you creating a hypothesis about what your ICP looks like. Your existing content is the benchmark. Every iteration you make to the copy gets tested against that benchmark to see which performs better.

You can run that testing via A/B pages (also known as split testing) or via copy testing through Wynter. What’s important is that you’re constantly tweaking, based on the insights you’ve gathered from the other five activities to create copy that monetizes as well as attracts the right traffic.

Finish the ICP Puzzle

One last point: external ICP research isn’t valueless. It can be a good foundation, especially if you’re just starting your SaaS company and don’t have any existing data on which you can rely. But using external research alone leads to a generic ICP that looks like every other ICP your competitors create.

That’s not going to land you more subscribers.

What will is drawing from the data you’ve already gathered (and continue to gather) about your existing customers and prospects. They’re telling you what messaging they want to see. 

Listen to them, tweak what you have, and start speaking the language that transforms traffic into tangible leads for your B2B SaaS company.

Know exactly what your buyers want and improve your messaging

Join 10,000+ other marketers and subscribe and get weekly insights on how to land more customers quicker with a better go-to-market machine.
You subscribed successfully.