As you scale, it is important that you show customer retention and expansion since it’s the biggest signal of product-market fit. That means that you want your first team focused on selling to customers that are using, and having success with, your product.

As a founder selling in the early days of a company, it’s common to cast a wider net — this allows you to get feedback on customer pain points, along with use cases of your product. However, once you have several customers onboard and you are bringing on your first reps, you’ll learn faster by keeping those reps focused on the customer profile that is working.

Defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

As you sell more customers and have more data to refine the profile, your ICP will evolve. You can start with something simple based on your first customers that includes:

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Definition Criteria

This is typically criteria you can determine without talking to the customer.

  • Vertical / Industry — We recommend picking 1-2 verticals that you focus on initially to help your team learn the use cases and ensure that you are aligned with the product.
  • Size — The size of companies that are a fit for you typically determined by # of employees or revenue.
  • Geography — Where do the customers need to be located?
  • Systems / Technology — Think of this as knockout criteria required to integrate with your product. Do they need to be using a certain software?

Sales Qualification Criteria

This is the criteria you want to define for the customer to become a qualified opportunity. There are several methodologies you can use here like MEDDIC, MEDDPIC, etc. We have MEDDIC in our playbook example, but the important thing is to pick one that aligns with your product and
be consistent in using it.

Color-Based Criteria

If it’s helpful, instead of having “inbound” and “outbound” criteria, you can use green, yellow, and red to make it clear what qualifies to move forward and what doesn’t.

  • Green is qualified to move forward
  • Yellow is for certain circumstances (i.e. inbound only)
  • Red means it is not qualified to move forward

Here's an example for color-based criteria with

Use Cases / Case Studies

Use 2-3 of your first customers to create Use Cases that will help your first reps understand what your product is solving. It’s critical they understand that BEFORE learning about the features so they can use that context to help them identify, qualify, and sell to customers.

Want some help putting these tips into action? I explain more about how to define your first ICP in the video below:


Identifying ideal customers is the first step in building a go-to-market playbook. See what comes next in our free guide:

GTM Playbook eBook cover (1)