Questions to Develop the Ideal Customer Profile

One of the terms I hear a fair amount from entrepreneurs is Ideal Custom Profile, commonly shortened to ICP. ICP, as it sounds, is a way to hone in on your desired customer by describing as many elements and attributes as possible. When I ask an entrepreneur about their target customer, and the response is vague, I know that they haven’t developed a strong ICP.

Here are a few questions to help develop the ideal customer profile:

  • What’s the typical company size and geography?
  • What’s the target job title?
  • How much money should they already spend on a related element?
  • What’s the required technology stack?
  • What are some other defining characteristics?

For last couple years before the Pardot acquisition, we defined our ICP as follows:

  • Company or division with 20 – 200 employees of which 5 – 50 are in sales and marketing
  • At least one full-time in-house marketing manager
  • Already run an email marketing newsletter program and purchase Google AdWords for lead generation
  • Job title of Marketing Manager, Marketing Director, or VP of Marketing

Build an initial ICP, socialize it with team members, and continuously iterate on it. The better the ICP, the higher the close rate.

What else? What are some more questions to develop the ideal customer profile?

Video of the Week: Mark Roberge – The Sales Acceleration Formula

Sales, sales, sales. It’s so critical to fast-growing startups yet so foreign to most first-time entrepreneurs. For our video of the week, watch Mark Roberge talk about The Sales Acceleration Formula. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot, visited Google’s office in Cambridge, MA to discuss his book, “The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million”.

Mark Roberge served as HubSpot’s SVP of Worldwide Sales and Services from 2007 to 2013, during which time he increased revenue over 6,000% and expanded the team from 1 to 450 employees, using the methods he describes in the book

2 Year Growth of 2 Pre-IPO Atlanta Startups

Continuing with yesterday’s post on Atlanta Companies on the 2016 Inc. 500, there are two tech startups that really standout: Kabbage and Cardlytics. Both are financial tech (FinTech) companies that are growing super fast. Here’s a bit about each and their revenues for the last two years:

Kabbage – Small business lending based on alternative data sources to evaluate credit worthiness (e.g. checks your eBay ratings, Amazon ratings, UPS shipment volume, and QuickBooks statements to determine a loan amount). Here’s Kabbage’s revenue for the last two years as published in the Inc. 500:

  • 2016 – $97.4 million
  • 2015 – $40.1 million

Cardlytics – Aggregates data from 1,500 financial institutions to run online and mobile banking rewards programs (think anonymized purchase data from consumers that’s used to serve up relevant offers). Here’s Cardlytics revenue for the last two years as published in the Inc. 500:

  • 2016 – $77.6 million
  • 2015 – $53.4 million

Based on the scale of the business and growth of revenue, both of these companies would be in pre-IPO territory. Often, $100 million in revenue is the magic mark to go public and both should pass that this year. Congrats to both companies on the great growth and here’s to their continued success.

What else? What are some more thoughts on Kabbage and Cardlytics?

Atlanta Companies on the 2016 Inc. 500

The 2016 Inc. 500 just came out and it’s great to see 30 companies from Atlanta on the list (up from 28 last year). Here are the Atlanta companies on the 2016 Inc. 500:

  • #5, $33.3m
  • #19 Thrive Farmers, $23.1m
  • #42 Castle Medical, $49m
  • #44 MacStadium, $5.8m
  • #88 Futurewave Systems, $14.7m
  • #98 CATMEDIA, $17.4m
  • #99 ArrowCore Group, $4.7m
  • #107 CallRail, $6.2m
  • #183 Kabbage, $97.4m
  • #195 Global Lending Services, $70.6m
  • #240 AKESOgen, $8.9m
  • #260 Orion, $5.9m
  • #269 Synartis Health, $2.1m
  • #276 PSG Construction, $24.3m
  • #307 Aspirent Consulting, $6m
  • #328 GENERAL MATERIALS, $3.2m
  • #333 Karna, $14.9m
  • #339 OTR Capital, $11m
  • #354 Real Estate Expert Advisors, $1.6m
  • #356 Access Point Financial, $30.5m
  • #365 Assurity Staffing Group, $2.6m
  • #366 Cardlytics, $77.6m
  • #377 Social123, $2.7m
  • #389 Anteris Management Consulting, $4.2m
  • #390 ImagineAir, $2.8m
  • #407 Digital Enterprise, $5.1m
  • #415 Regulated Capital Consultants, $9.9m
  • #461 Nolan Transportation Group, $196.3m
  • #470 Totally Joined For Achieving Collaborative Techniques, $4.1m
  • #497 S2 IT Group, $3.7m

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2016 Inc. 500!

Networking Questions When Looking for the Next Opportunity

Recently I’ve had the chance to talk with two different entrepreneurs that have moved on from their ventures and are looking for the next opportunity. In each of the conversations we talked about what went well, what didn’t go well, and general learnings. Then, we talked through a few different questions:

  • What’s your ideal role at the next company?
  • What size company? Seed stage? Early stage? Growth stage?
  • What verticals or trends interest you?
  • What’s your risk appetite regarding salary vs equity trade-off?
  • What companies in town interest you?
  • What else is important to know?
  • Who else should I meet with?

Looking for a new opportunity? Use these simple questions to get the conversation going.

What else? What are some other networking questions to use when looking for the next opportunity?

Sales Training

As the startup progresses beyond product/market fit and finds a repeatable customer acquisition model, it becomes time to really scale out the sales team. As the sales team grows, one of the common tasks is to develop sales training. But wait, we’re just selling software, can it be that hard? Yes. There’s a huge difference between a sales rep that’s well trained and one that isn’t.

Here are a few popular sales trainers:

  • Sandler Training – One of the largest and most well known sales training organizations.
  • salesOctane – Jim Ryerson did several training programs for our team at Pardot and is a master of his craft.
  • Jack Daly – Super high energy and compelling sales trainer. Highly recommended.

Sales training is well worth the expense. When you can afford it, I’d recommend putting it in the budget and investing in sales team training.

What else? What are some other sales training programs and instructors you recommend?

Ideas for Sports Venue Apps from the Braves App Challenge

Tonight I had the opportunity to hear the pitches from the Braves App Challenge (think hackathon) at the Atlanta Tech Village. The goal was to reimagine the experience at the new Atlanta Braves stadium, SunTrust Park, complete with multi-terabit internet access.

Here’s a brief synopsis of most of tonight’s ideas:

  • Stadium access driving direction app that takes your current location and all the potential ways to get to the different stadium entry points while optimizing for traffic (think Google Maps/Waze integration checking several different routes)
  • Stadium experience customization based on preferences like shade/sunny, first date/romantic, rowdy/noisy section, etc
  • Referral rewards app (e.g. tweet a picture with your Braves hat on in the stadium and get a free Coke)
  • Image overlay app where you can swap out the text or plug in a Braves player digitally (think Snapchat filter)
  • Meet like-minded people in stadium and make new relationships
  • Virtual trading cards where you can only get certain ones by attending games (think Pokémon Go but for digital baseball cards)

Congratulations to the winner Mixle:

Thanks to all the teams that entered and the Braves for sponsoring the event.

What else? What are some more ideas for sports venue apps?