[Video] How to do segmentation like it’s 2024

video front - how to do segmentation

It's always the leads...

Join us for this interview, where hintly’s Head of Sales, Ludvig Hammeken, explains how companies can improve sales results by focusing on getting a more detailed and sophisticated description of their Ideal Customer Profile in place and targeting better leads..  


Hi, my name is Brian Stræde. I’m Head of Marketing at Hintly, and I’m here with Ludvig Hammeken, Head of Sales and partner in Hintly. And we’re here to talk about one of our favorite topics, which is segmentation and getting that right.

But let me just start out, Ludvig, by asking you, why do you think it’s so important that sales departments get that segmentation right?

Well, it’s crucial for success, without a doubt, finding and addressing the right people that are likely to buy a product. Obviously, that’s one of the very, very important steps of your sales work.

And you’ve experienced this firsthand. You’ve been in sales for 15 years, working in everything from startup to scale-up to enterprise sales. So you’ve seen a lot of different scenarios and worked in different roles. But across that, are there any sort of common problems that you have witnessed in your career?

Sure. Well, obviously businesses are different. You can have different challenges depending on the product, the context, the kind of companies that you’re servicing, etc.

But one of the topics that I have always worked with a lot is perhaps three parts. It’s product market fit, ICP and lead generation. That works together with the former ones.

And the ICP, the ideal customer profile is, of course, a part of the whole segmentation game.
When that’s maybe a little bit off, when you don’t have that in place, how do you see that manifest in a sales department?

Well, it’s quite clear things are difficult. Going is tough. It’s difficult for the salespeople
to reach their targets. There might be friction, conversion rates are low. Yeah, those are probably some of the symptoms. 

I have an image in my head where you have a car or a bike or whatever, and the components are not quite aligned and adjusted and oiled nicely. So yeah, it doesn’t run well.

And on the other hand, when you actually nail it and get that segmentation right, how does that change the dynamics of a sales department and the everyday work?

Everything becomes better.It’s really nice and amazing for the whole commercial team, for the whole company, probably..

When those things are aligned, you have nicer conversations with the people that you meet.
Your message resonates with them. You book more meetings, you get more customers, it’s more fun to come to work, better results, obvisously.

So, if we should take the same analogy, then it feels like all the wheels are aligned and adjusted and oiled and – smooth sailing. Much more efficient, more fun.

Leads and ICP is on top of the sales manager’s agenda

Today, in your role as Head of Sales in Hintly, you’re in a constant dialogue with sales managers and talking about their challenges and so on. So what kind of issues do you see they have on their agendas?

Well, all salespeople want more sales, right? Obviously. But besides that, more specifically, I really hear a lot of talk about leads.
It’s always the lead, right?
So thus, segmentation and ICP is really on a lot of people’s lips these days, as opposed to,
say, five years ago, maybe ten, even.
That’s probably always on your mind as a sales manager, director, whatever.

And as you say, there has been a lot of talk, and there is a lot of talk about ideal customer profile and getting that image of your perfect customer just right.
How well do you see companies actually execute on this?

 I see very few that execute very well on this. Let me start to say that.
And besides that, I might divide it into two groups.

One group, maybe it’s around 50/50, something like that on either side. And one group basically doing what they’ve always done, segmenting based on few parameters, revenue, geography, country, amount of employees, as an example, and then using – everyone is still using LinkedIn. Fair enough. Good tool, in many ways, but then also using a lot of manual time trying to find the right leads.

So that’s one group. The other group is more familiar with and has explored the concept of ICP more and trying to use different tools to surface the right leads.

But again, very seldom do I hear companies where they think, and I think that they have a really great setup.
I could probably count that on one hand out of hundreds.

So if you look at the vast majority there that they have maybe an understanding about
revenue, number of employees, geography, industry.
Is that a problem?

I think for most companies, yes. It’s simply too basic, too rudimentary to only filter on that.
Because my experience is for a lot of companies, those parameters, industry, geography, amount of employees, revenue, they’re not necessarily the criteria that identify your ideal customers. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s the maturity in the marketing department.

Maybe it’s whether they have a high headcount or a low headcount, high revenue per employee or not. So there can be many other aspects that determine whether it’s a good, relevant potential customer or not.

The important parameters of a great ICP

So let’s try and dive into that topic for a moment. If you were to describe a good ICP, what
kind of parameters or dimensions would you look into?

Well, I would obviously look at financial ones, and here I would be more
detailed than just revenue or gross profit.

And again, it’s about finding, identifying the criteria that are relevant in your case, if you’re
selling, again, say a marketing tool, is it a company that is growing, that is investing in growing, investing in other marketing tools?So financially it could be, is it a company with debt, a lot of cash, high revenue per employee, etc?

Then we have other dimensions. Such as can be the DNA, the culture, the mindset of the company. Are they forward looking, are they conservative? Are they part of the new guys on the block?

Is it a strong culture or is it more a soft, low hierarchy? There are many ways where you can describe the ideal customer profile.

And if I were to throw a parameter in there, it could be something like organization,
maybe, the way the company is structured.

Absolutely. That can say a lot about what kind of animal we’re dealing with, right?

Again, let’s take the example with a marketing tool. Depending on what you’re selling, if you’re selling a basic, simple marketing tool, then you might want to target companies with a relatively young marketing department, right?

That does not have, I don’t know, five or ten different specialist roles, and they’ve had a marketing department for ten years, then you might be for the beginners.

On the other hand, if you’re selling a more complex, sophisticated marketing tool, then you might want to look for companies that have, I don’t know, minimum, ten or 20 years working seriously with marketing. Maybe they have different specialist roles, et cetera.

It can also be the tech stack can say something about this. Are they using other complementary or other related tools that indicate the maturity of this company or of this department?

Are they using Salesforce? Then they’re probably not a beginner. Are they using, I don’t know, Zoho CRM or Pipedrive? Then they’re probably at a different stage, right?

So it’s about piecing together all of these different informations in order to get
a comprehensive, relevant picture of the characteristics that your ideal customers have.

And one of the things that a lot of our customers look into is also like online presence.

Absolutely. What can you see there? Is it a company that has a large website in different countries? Perhaps a lot of text, a lot of images, video? Are they spending online ads? How much is their traffic? Do they have products? Is there a webshop? Getting an image of what does this company look like on the web?

That can definitely also be a dimension.

So let’s say you have that ICP well-described with financial parameters, you have an idea of the organization, their tech stack, so on and so forth.
That’s a good first step. But where do you go from there? How do you make that ICP an operational asset?

Good question, because what we just talked about here is basically describing your ICP, which is a task that is typically done, say, in a meeting room, right, where you sit down with your colleagues and you figure out these things.

So with this understanding in hand, you need to go somewhere where you can find companies that live up to these criteria, right? 

If you’re lucky, you can say, okay, these specific criteria I can find in this exact database.
A lot of bigger company information database providers can filter on, for instance, what we talked about before, amount of revenues, industry code, geography, revenue.

If you’re lucky, maybe you will find your ICP only based on that. But I think for most companies it’s more specific. It needs to be more detailed. And then you need to figure out, where can I find leads that live up to these characteristics, right?

How hintly can help you find better leads

And one of the tools you can use for that is, of course, Hintly.  And just taking that as an example, what would a process look like if you were to use Hintly to take your ICP from the meeting room to actually using it to find better leads?

So we have two different products, but what we typically do is that we start with our Select product, which is segmentation.

So then, essentially, we sit down, have a look at your ICP description as it is today, and say, how much can we cover? I think, to be honest, seldom can a sales team have 100% of their ICP criteria. But if we can get 80% covered, it’s definitely much better than whatever, 20 or 30%, right?

So we sit down and figure out with the customer, we can cover this, this, this. And if something is lacking, then we try to think about could another piece of information infer or indicate something about this?

Again, if we say the marketing tool example, if they have a lot ofpeople in the marketing department with specialized roles, then it indicates something about maturity. That could be a specific example. So then we set up the customer’s criteria in our data engine, build the funnel, and then what comes out in the other end is the leads that are really, really good for your company.  So then you have the solution for that.

And as you mentioned, Select is one way of getting there, the other one is a little bit of
a different process when you use hinty Score.

So, the Hintly score is an AI-based lead score, essentially. And it’s a really powerful tool, especially for companies that are actually not sure what they’re looking for.

Because then we have more than 600 parameters, data points that we can analyze and figure out what characteristics are correlated to success. So that’s closed won and also closed lost, actually.
So then we can start to analyze actually the customer’s ICP based on a lot more information than just headcount, revenue, industry, etc. And then based on that, we can score the lead pools that they have, indicating how much does this look like a success.

And of course, Hintly is one piece of sales tech ,you could say. The landscape of sales tech has emerged quite rapidly over the last few years. So if you were to build the perfect tech stack for a sales department, what would that consist of?

Obviously a CRM system. And then the important thing, I think, well, as we discussed before, one of the crucial steps is that you work on the right leads. So here comes the whole ICP and lead generation talk, because where do you get those from? Maybe it could be a tool like hintly, maybe it’s something else, depending on what you do. But ideally you can go someplace, get a tool that delivers the right leads to you.

Then you need to speak with them. That can be marketing activities or sales activities. I’m not too much into all the marketing tools, but for sales, obviously you need a phone and an email, probably maybe contacting themvia LinkedIn or something like that. Maybe you need a dialer, if it’s a high volume game. Then you probably, hopefully, should be moving some of the prospects forward in the cycle – maybe you need a deal room tool in order to present your proposal in a more interactive and engaging way. And finally, well, this can also include a digital signature tool. Yeah, I think that’s probably it, yeah.

The most effective lever to pull to increase sales

Getting your tech stack right is of course a part of a bigger agenda, which is getting more sales, achieving your growth targets and so on. But there are many ways to get there. In your sales dialogues, what kind of efforts do you see people do? What kind of levers do you see people pull? And what would you say would be maybe the most efficient one?

So, if we zoom out a little bit, we all want more sales, we want to reach our targets. Everyone is behind. Maybe a lot of people are, especially with the situation the past couple of years, inflation, et cetera. So what can we do to improve our efficiency and results, et cetera? If that’s the question I am to consider, then we can do a number of different things.

We can hire more people if we have the money for it. That’s one thing to do. And let’s assume that we can’t really change the product because it is what it is. It’s not going to change for next week, next Monday, rigth?.

So we can hire more people, we can train the people that we have. We can recruit differently, perhaps, we can improve our tools and processes. 

And finally, what I think is the most powerful lever is change our lead pool. As we talked about before or earlier, I think this is really an interesting nut to crack when you succeed, because you can just feel the difference in the conversations and the meetings that you have, and you can see the difference in the results almost from day to day, from week to week, at least. 

If you’re trying to sell something to the wrong people, as we discussed, it’s difficult, but when you move that product over to the right people, all of a sudden you get a lot more traction.

So in my experience, that’s probably the quickest, if you’re not already there at least , it’s probably the quickest and most efficient thing to change because hiring different people, training them, et cetera, it just takes a lot of time and money, whereas you can change your lead pool from day to day, more or less, right?

Exactly. And I think we’ll wrap it up with those words. So thank you, Ludvig, and thank you for listening.