Start Collecting Information About Prospects as Early As Possible for Maximum Efficiency

Once a dominant theme for marketing communications collateral has been established, the intended audience has been identified, and a top down strategy has been implemented with regard to producing the actual editorial content for the campaign, the objective that ought to become paramount is to identify the information required to qualify the likelihood of purchase interest on the part of prospects who may respond to the collateral with an inquiry, etc.

The task of collecting important information about prospects that will contribute to useful prospect qualification must start with the registration form that prospects will complete in order to receive what we call tier II collateral. Prospects receive tier II collateral when they take an action in response to a call to action that has been included in the initial product promotion campaign. The action could either take the form of an incoming telephone call from a prospect, or a click on a link embedded within an email version of the initial product promotion campaign.

Regardless of how prospects opt to act in response to receipt of direct marketing collateral about products, the procedure must be the same: collect targeted information before handing over tier II collateral to the prospect.

We think that it makes sense, at a minimum for registrations to collect at least the following information:

  • Name
  • Company Name (or Organization equivalent for inquiries from the public or from the not-for-profit sectors)
  • web site address (if one exists)
  • Title
  • Telephone Number
  • eMail Address

Once policy is established that makes receipt of these 5 pieces of information a mandatory preliminary requirement that must be satisfied before any further information is distributed, then the job of advancing the conversation further becomes that much easier, not to mention more efficient. After all, why task personnel to follow up on simply an email address when an inquiry has been received, when time can be better spent working with other prospects that represent more promising opportunties?

Further, it makes sense to research prospects that provide these 5 pieces of information. Where a web site may not be available, based upon company name and/or email address it ought to be possible to develop some familiarity with the incoming prospect. As we have noted earlier in this blog, we find that LinkedIn provides us with a lot of very useful information about companies; therefore, we highly recommend LinkedIn as a resource for gathering this company-specific research.

Based upon a prospect’s title, it should be possible start to put together an organizational chart. We think it makes a lot of sense to start working with organizational charts as early as possible. After all, these charts can provide the basis for assumptions about how the various personnel within an organization interrelate as regards formulating a purchase decision, which will certainly need to be tested, over time.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Once Qualification Criteria have been Established Lead Generation Efforts Should be Separated from Sales Efforts

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


Competitor Success Stories are Also a Good Source of Potential Leads

Where competitors have either lost market share, or are in the process of doing so, their published success stories can be a useful source of contacts willing to talk and to provide referrals. Companies with a significant commitment to IT systems in attrition likely are feeling some pain, whether as the result of having to pay hefty hourly rates for consultants with unique skills not common in the market, or for projects that have failed to consistently deliver operational savings over a product life cycle. Finally, where IT solutions have “stood still” while the rest of the market has continued to evolve, obsolescence is either at hand or just around the corner; therefore, large communities of users will likely be considering major changes.

We have had useful telephone conversations with CIOs mentioned in a number of these published case studies. Almost always, these conversations have produced referrals to lower level contacts within an organization, which is just the type of successful mapping that we were after. We prefer a top down contact strategy. Reaching out to high level contacts mentioned in case studies is an example of putting our strategy to work.

It is difficult to avoid some type of presentation on these calls, but we counsel keeping as clear of presentation as possible. In 2012 avoiding presentation has become difficult. Here is an example of this difficulty: we spoke recently with a senior IT analyst at a public organization at a state government level here in the United States who requested some information for review prior to proceeding with a conversation with us on behalf of one of our clients. His rationale was simply, “if I do not know anything about you, then I will not talk with you.” We sent this contact a whitepaper, conference flyer and a brief overview of our client’s product. However, had we known more about this contact prior to reaching out to him, we could, perhaps, have provided him with a reference to one of his peers as an example of the type of implementation that is usually made with our client’s product in his particular market. We think a referral would have sufficed.

Another option would have been to have sent him a direct marketing piece crafted to provide some information, without a formal presentation of products/services/integrated solutions. An invitation to discuss well known industry-specific issues with a representative, or to review a white paper, could have constituted the MARCOM content for such a direct marketing piece. Closing the piece with a sentence to the effect that representatives would shortly call to field any questions that recipients may have would provide a useful segue to a follow up telephone call (which ought to be placed between 24 and 72 hours of direct mail reciept).

If your business plan calls for contact with CIOs and other prominent decision makers in enterprise IT organizations and you would like to learn further about our work, then please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Low Cost Resources for Lead Generation for Complex Sales

Lead generation programs for complex sales must produce prospects who are likely to be in the market for a solution to some level of clear financial pain. An excellent resource for unearthing leads are SEC filings for publicly traded businesses here in the United States. Look for indicators in quarterly and/or annual filings for escalating costs in the areas of business activity serviced by enterprise software.

Frequently monitoring news is also an excellent method of locating information about business losses, changes in management (often an indicator that procedures will soon be reorganized), and efforts to transform a corporate brand.

Once we have identified prospects we generally use a website like Jigsaw or LinkedIn to put together a list of the contacts that we plan to contact.

Generally we obtain better results from Jigsaw at a zero cost. Once a business registers with Jigsaw, access is granted to all of the leads that have been submitted to the site. In our case we make no use of unsolicited email addresses; therefore we have no need for the email addresses that accompany each lead. Further, if telephone numbers are not publicly available, we will not call them; therefore we do not purchase leads with private telephone numbers. We do, however, maintain a points surplus with Jigsaw. We have accumulated points (which can be paid out in exchange for specific leads, should we encounter an opportunity where we absolutely must have email addresses and/or direct telephone numbers) by submitting unimportant leads from our own leads list. As well, we have also accrued points as the result of correcting errors about contacts, specifically titles and/or misspelling of names.

Once we have identified contact names with Jigsaw, we will look up the same contact names on LinkedIn to verify the information. Once the contact name is completely verified, we proceed to formulate the structure of an initial telephone call. We structure a first call to a contact to test our “pain” assumption about the prospect — no pain, no pursuit. Where there is acknowledged pain, we look to ensure that a contact agrees that our solution may provide some relief. In our experience, prospects who believe have the will to motivate the rest of an organization to participate in our fact finding mission, which provides the basis of our quantified financial conclusion about cost savings.

If you relate to our method and would like to discuss your specific business and your objectives, then please contact us. You may telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Passive methods of nurturing leads makes sense for enterprise software sales

We’ve written recently in this blog on the topic of lead nurturing. We’ve expressed a skepticism about this method of maintaining contact with prospects over time. Our skepticism is rooted in a fundamental rejection of the usefulness of periodically sending product specific and/or industry specific email messages to prospects. We see this activity as producing few useful opportunities to meaningfully engage with prospects as the basis for conversation will revert, inevitably, to product presentations, precisely the type of activity that produces little if any information about what is important to a prospect with regard to a specific type of computing.

Rather, we are proponents of passive lead nurturing activities. Passive lead nurturing amounts to allocating resource to stay attuned to prospect businesses over time, but from a distance. After all, categorizing an engagement with a prospect as a sales lead is generally most meaningful for the company actively pursuing a sale to a customer, rather than the customer itself. True, it does “take two to tango,” meaning that customers and sellers must agree to engage with one another on a sale in order for an order to materialize, but we think the purchase means very different things to each party. For our purposes here we are only concerned with sellers. Therefore when an engagement is converted by marketing, or sales, to a bonafide sales opportunity and, for one reason or another, the sales opportunity does not bear fruit, we think it makes total sense, over time to keep a vigilant eye on the changing realities at the prospect who is now not actively engaged. Of course, this vigilance can pay off handsomely if changes in management, business conditions, etc are quickly recognized and commensurate outreach can be mustered to engage with the prospect once again.

The best method of allocating resources for this type of activity is to leverage computing power. Paying for proprietary intelligence, whether via a named premium news service, or other method we thinks makes total sense. As well, an Intranet system like Microsoft® SharePoint® can be configured to display prospect news within a dashboard that can be made easily accessible to a sales team, marketing team and other groups at the prospect business.

The live component of our passive lead nurturing method is to leverage editorial tools like press releases and, for our contemporary audience, blogs, twitter pages, etc. to maintain market position. Prospects targeted for lead nurturing should be encouraged to opt into these online media to ensure that they are kept up to date, albeit at a distance with your brand message.

If you would like to speak with us about our method, with an eye towards your objectives, then please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved