5 lessons learned in adopting ICP

In 2019, I crossed a major milestone with my commercial (sales & marketing) team in my leadership journey. We reached 80%-win rate and 5x higher ARR leading to multi-million euro contracts with a focused approach that started with ICP.

At the start of 2021, I crossed another major milestone where we created 2 ICP’s for different portfolio area’s resulting in 3% ideal customers of their target market defined > 40 accounts. This time for a client of the business I have co-founded end of 2020 .

It's been quite a ride, and the lessons have been a plenty. Here are 5 of the biggest ones I learned during the journey I started in 2017:


  • Lesson 1: Cross-departmental sponsorship is critical

ICP is not just a marketing thing, it is a foundational element of your growth strategy. See it as the foundation for building your house. All departments can contribute as they have intelligence or insights. In order to drive the right conversations internally and get your stakeholders onboard on the right levels. Inspire them, teach them and activate them what it could mean for their department.  From better insights on where to innovate your portfolio for the product team to increasing the win rates of your commercial team.


  • Lesson 2: Start a pilot / proof of value

When you’re just starting out a new approach, you need to test it risk-free without jeopardizing your existing sales process or demand generation engine. To be clear, that’s what a proof of value is all about. Going up market to Enterprise or driving higher win rates and contract values / ARR are often great reasons to prioritize ICP. Testing it in an environment for F.A.I.L. (First Attempt In Learning) to innovate and that it gets the opportunity and time to flourish and grow. In order to give it the right visibility, you need to create internal noise / buzz with your pilot team and share the progress. This is critical for internal adoption in the future when you are ready to scale.


  • Lesson 3: Define your account-centric revenue waterfall model and timelines

Are you on the right track to realize your revenue ambitions / targets with ICP. First start with creating one funnel customized for your commercial / revenue team. It is your job to understand how ICP is performing vs non ICP. Look at the conversion, velocity and volume. So you understand and where in the account-centric revenue funnel you are performing in line with expectations and where you require improvements.

But, don’t make the mistake by looking at individual engagement of buyers only. It is about the engagement of the buying group as a whole. The thrivers have control over this engagement across the entire buying cycle and customer journey. Revenue as/is a team sport.


  • Lesson 4: Interlocking Purpose, GTM, Campaign

Your DNA-ICP influences many cross-departmental strategies on interlocking Purpose, GTM, Campaign. Claiming a topic in the market based on your purpose and inviting your customers to join you in this movement is what makes your brand memorable. An example here, the topic we are claiming in the market as IF Associates: "Serving your market as a King or Queen"

Who can better be part of this then your ICP customers that have a true match with you. When you Go-To-Market with your offering – with your topic to claim as an umbrella – your ICP will be your priority segment. This is where the magic happens in the market. It's important to build as many valuable relationships as possible with your stakeholders at these accounts.

Get your account-based approach (Go for ABE if you have the choice) into play, as part of multi-channel integrated campaigns that drive awareness, demand, enablement and engagement. It is about connecting these areas , such as brand - based on your topic to claim - seeding demand. Prioritize your ICP accounts when for example demand or opportunities come in. ICP is also about saying “NO” if they are just not reaching the scoring threshold. Your commercial resources are not unlimited, right? 😉

Keep the scoring accurate, it is a dynamic process. Accounts can and need to drop-in and out.


  • Lesson 5: Celebrate wins and losses as a team - the power of commercial togetherness

Realizing success and becoming better every day. Is your one commercial dream team send on a mission into the market? This is critical for transforming siloed marketing/sales teams and metrics to a unified team with joint goal setting and measurement. This means also that everybody can and needs to have a conversation with buyers. This is not only for the sales team. This has been a game changer as marketers will likely get other insights then BDR’s, sales or service delivery managers.

Celebrate wins and losses – as you will learn from both. Often even more from the losses.

So after driving account-centric approaches for more than 3,5 years, when we founded IF Associates we decided to build a formula, called the IF Formula of Growth. An account-centric formula that provides the glue between revenue, marketing, sales and purpose-driven leaders to achieve predictable recurring revenue growth, realizes growth & happiness and will help you to become better every day. ICP is a crucial foundation for success.

And still learning as we go. An ICP that can marry the history and the future really intrigues me. So looking back at where you have been successful and into future (e.g. vision, mission) who you want to be when you grow up.

IF Associates is your Growth & Happiness Innovation Associate in the subscription economy. As your associate, we guide you how and where to grow with a commercial dream team on a mission into the market. Your fast track to results. So IF you are ready to change the formula in which you generate revenue and deliver value today? Explore more on what DNA-ICP can mean for you.


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