The concept of marketing and sales alignment has been a hot topic of late. You have probably received at least a handful of communications, webinar invites or even attended conferences devoted to the subject. There is one area of the discussion that I think has been overlooked or misconstrued by these marketing and sales ‘experts’ – the idea of lead scoring.
As a marketer, your goal is to generate qualified leads for your sales team so they can work their magic in the sales call and close the deal. In other words, your job is to contribute to revenue generation through lead management. In order to identify the few qualified prospects from the remainder of the inquiries, you first need to determine your ideal customer profile or in other words, what segment is your best target. From there, BANT questions (budget, authority, need, and time frame) help determine the qualification status of the leads. At this point, you are probably saying this is nothing new and you are right. Marketers have been trying to accomplish this for years. What’s different now is marketing automation technology is available to get it done.
But, the discussion goes deeper then simply BANT qualification scoring. Let’s say a prospect is qualified based on budget, authority and needs, but their time frame for purchase is still 6 months out. It’s probably worthwhile for your sales person to call and introduce your company to the prospect, but because their job is to close deals now, that’s probably as far as the conversation should go. So, the salesperson sets a reminder to call the prospect in 6 months.
Fast forward 3 months. The same prospect has visited your website 5 times in the past 2 days, downloaded your most recent whitepaper, and participated in a recent webinar. According to BANT, they are still 3 months away from a purchase, but their activity tells a different story – they are interested today. That’s where activity alerts come into the picture.
As a marketer, you know that prospect behavior is a powerful indicator of purchase intent. But what marketer has time to sit and monitor this type of activity? Marketing automation technology allows an organization to identify the behaviors that signify the intent to buy and subsequently send alerts to sales when a prospect participates in any combination of these behaviors. In my previous example, if the sales person had waited 6 months to call, they most likely would have lost the sales to the competition. But by being notified with activity alerts, the likelihood of closing a deal is maximized.
Both BANT scoring and activity alerts are important in the lead to sale process. But let me make an important distinction. Any system that combines BANT scoring with activity alerts to produce an overall lead score is flawed. These two concepts play a very different role in the sales cycle. BANT is used to identify whether a contact matches your customer profile whereas activity alerts are used to identify immediate demand. If you combine the two, you run into false positives. For example, let’s say your qualification score is equal to 500. A student is researching three companies in your industry for a class project. He fills out a form and obviously doesn’t match your customer profile; he scores a 200. But, he does visit your website 3 times in 3 days (100 points), downloads 3 whitepapers (150) and signs up for your newsletter (50). All of a sudden his score is equal to 500, which alerts sales to follow-up. You definitely don’t want your sales team to waste their time on a student conducting research!
By keeping BANT and activity scoring separate you don’t run into these issues. Although an activity alert would have been sent to sales, they would have easily been able to see the contact does not match the customer profile, eliminating an unnecessary touch. There are additional advantages to keeping the two scores separate: implementation time is much faster and ongoing maintenance is more manageable making it the perfect fit for organizations that don’t have extra resources to devote to this very important step in the lead-to-sale process.