I love the show Criminal Minds. For those less familiar, Criminal Minds is a whodunit crime drama centered around the psychological makeup of the “unsub” (i.e. police speak for bad guy). Hotch and his team of crime-fighting superstars spend the entire episode analyzing clues and building a profile of the suspected murderer.


Just like in the show Criminal Minds, we, as marketers, must work to “profile” our ideal prospects, or the type of people most likely to buy from us. By focusing on our target audience, we waste less time on weaker leads and significantly increase the efficiency with which we move our stronger lead through the funnel. Pardot can help us do this by offering Grading capabilities which we can use to find those stronger leads.

On a side note: I cannot mention grading without bringing up lead scoring. Grading is how interested you are in a prospect based on a set of criteria, but scoring tells us how interested our prospects are in us based on their actions. You need both to fully qualify your optimal leads. For this blog post however, I wanted to focus on the grading side and how to identify your target audience. Read more about scoring (and grading) in this blog post: Lead Scoring & Grading – How it Works.

For now, here are 3.5 tips for building out your ideal prospect profile:

1. Get Advice from the Experts

Throughout the show, the other characters on the team turn to Dr. Spencer Reid, the brainiac, for his insight and expertise in psychology. As marketers, we need to consult our sales team. Our sales team will have the best insight on who they want to talk to and type of person or company that is most likely to turn into a sale. Conducting quick interviews with each member of the sales team will give marketers a good place to start in building their ideal prospect profile. Look for things like company size, job title, location, industry, and revenue size. Start simple and build from there.

2. Consult Previous Cases

Often times, it helps to look back on what happened in the past to help make sense of the present and even predict the future. The show, Criminal Minds, is always making references to real life cases from the past to help them draw further conclusions on crime and profile at hand. Similarly, we can use our pool of current customers to help determine what our future customers may look like. Run reports on your current customer base to find common characteristics to continue building out the your profile.

3. Look at Motive in Addition to Characteristics

At first, it’s important to start out simple. Find 3 to 5 solid, common characteristics based on your sales interviews and your current customer pool, and use that as your foundation. From there, build on to your profile and get specfic. Consider looking at motive, too. Start asking questions around BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe). Answers to these questions can help hone in on those ideal prospects most likely to turn into a sale.

You can use features like progressive profiling in Pardot to help collect this type of information on all your prospects and build out a detailed prospect profile overtime without asking too many questions up front.

3.5 Test and Refine

Finally, down the line, test your profile. In 6 months to a year, go back and talk to your sales team again and analyze your new pool of current customers. Check to make sure that your previous assumptions are still valid. Always, always, always continue to refine your prospect profile. Like in the TV show, the first suspect may not be the right one, but through research and analysis eventually the right person is identified and brought to justice.


Check out this infographic for additional insight on grading and scoring: A Guide to Scoring and Grading Your Leads [INFOGRAPHIC]