Product marketers for complex software products targeted at enterprise customers need to provide sales and lead generation teams with a prospect profile. These teams need to use the prospect profile to build separate prospect qualification procedures. The rationale for separating these procedures is that each team has a different, but complementary, reason for qualifying prospects. Lead generation teams should qualify prospects to ensure that names passed along to sales teams for further engagement meet the right prospect profile criteria. Sales teams should qualify prospects to determine where a prospect fits in, if at all, in the decision making system for an enterprise that looks like a potential customer.
It should be clear that we are proposing two different sets of activities from the same prospect profile information. The first set of activities are the domain of lead generation teams. These teams need to use their efforts to identify specific contacts with whom sales teams should engage, in order to advance the possibility of sales opportunities. Further, lead generation teams need to also collect information about specific enterprise organizations, to determine whether specific organizations exhibit the earmarks of good sales prospects.
In fact, as we see it, a prospect profile for complex enterprise IT software products has two core components:
- a set of contact profiles and
- a set of profiles for organizations likely to benefit from products
We think that it is clearly the responsibility of lead generation teams to implement both of these profiles. Lead generation teams should use both of these profiles to provide sales teams with opportunities for engagement. Sales teams, in turn, engage with these contacts to further the qualification process. The border between the two teams should be an initial meeting between the sales team and the contacts identified by lead generation teams. Like runners in a relay race, this first meeting provides an opportunity to “pass the baton” from one team to the other.
We have serviced clients as both a lead generation service and a sales service. In two recent instances we have performed both functions. We think it works better, as we mentioned at the start of this post, to keep the two activities entirely separate. Our clients benefit more when we pass a qualified prospect along to a sales team. Of course, it is then up to sales to determine the quality of the opportunity. Sales’ determination can provide a useful method of determining whether or not objectives have been met for a particular project.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved