Contributed by Lee Sellers, Principal, Visible Impact
Many marketers and sales managers are focused on “BANT-qualified leads.” These prospects have met certain criteria (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) and are mature enough to be sent to sales. What could possibly be wrong with this attraction to BANT?Let's start with the basics.
The success of any marketing organization is ultimately tied to the success of sales. Generating high-quality, actionable leads is often perceived to be the fastest route to sales success. But simply layering filters onto a list of potential purchasers does not necessarily result in a higher close rate.
Consider a “partially” qualified prospect: One that meets 3 of the 4 criteria (e.g., budget, authority and need). A lack of timing should be the easiest variable to impact, assuming your sales team has the tools to create a sense of urgency in the prospect’s mind. Is budget the missing qualifier? Again, a sales team armed with visuals showing how your solution delivers efficiencies, ROI, security, etc., can shift a conversation away from budget and back towards need and timing.
In a funnel-driven marketing and sales organization, a formulaic approach to capturing and converting leads often ignores the dynamic that a consensus-driven marketing and sales strategy can deliver. Consensus, in this case, revolves around agreement on message and the definition of a qualified lead. However, too often the process of generating and qualifying leads is separated from the sales engagement that is needed to transition a prospect into a customer.
Beyond that, however, is the approach used to engage the BANT lead. Frequently, the sales rep following up on a lead has very little knowledge of how the lead was targeted, how it was qualified, and what messaging was used to generate interest in the first place. Not having continuity of content in the sales cycle can often be a barrier to closing a deal.
Before embarking on yet another BANT-driven lead generation campaign, consider these steps:
1. Drive consensus between sales and marketing. Before beginning any lead generation campaign, make sure marketing and sales leadership have provided input into the targeting, qualifying and messaging components of the campaign. Speaking to prospects with a unified point of view provides a stable platform for communicating to the marketplace and emboldens your sales team.
2. Drill down on the qualifiers. Do you really need all of the filters you are using? If so, make sure the data supporting their inclusion are up to date. Too often, marketing managers are goaded into including additional, costly qualifiers by their lead generation rep, not because the qualifiers have driven past results. Additionally, be sure that there is agreement across marketing and sales as to what an ideal prospect looks like. These criteria can change regularly (even quarterly) based on sales goals, new product introductions, and competitive pressures.
3. Create a sense of urgency. Your greatest competition is the status quo. The fastest way to leapfrog your competition is to create a sense of urgency in the mind of your prospects and move them away from “no decision.” Having a consensus-built point of view and a unified understanding of the target decision maker and their objectives is the first step to creating a sense of urgency. Some additional steps can be found here.