This blog post focuses on one aspect of this challenge – how best to define the ‘dividing line between Sales and Marketing, otherwise known as the Sales Qualified Lead (or SQL).
The concept behind an SQL is that it represents the point when a lead has evidenced enough interest in your solution and they have provided enough information about their own company that the lead is now sufficiently qualified. See the graphic below for a visual view of this waterfall.
So, how can you best capture this point in time when a Marketing Qualified Lead (or MQL) becomes an SQL? The best approach to use is an easy scheme called BANT. BANT is an acronym that stands for the following.
- Budget – do they have the ability to spend?
- Authority – do we know who will ‘write the check’ for our solution?
- Need – what are the indications that they might need our solution?
- Timeline – When will they need a solution? Are there any compelling events?
The key is in defining BANT so that it is specific to the prospect and to your solution. If defined too narrowly, sales reps will not receive sufficient leads. If defined too loosely, the sales reps get flooded with leads and they slip through the cracks. Here is an example of BANT defined by one of our clients:
- Budget – has the prospect spent money on any software solution similar in price to ours in the last 18 months?
- Authority – do we know the contact information for the person who would most likely sponsor a project for our solution?
- Need – does the prospect have a business challenge in any of the 4 areas where our solution fits?
- Timeline – do we know when will they need a solution or if there any compelling events?
In their case, if the lead generation specialist could answer ‘yes’ to 3 of the 4 BANT criteria, the lead was considered an SQL and was passed to Sales. This definition had changed over time to get more restructure as the initial definition required less nurturing and investigation by Marketing and resulted in too many unqualified prospects getting passed to the sales force.
Each company will want to create its own version of BANT and that is as it should be. For this approach to be successful, though, Sales and Marketing must:
- Collaborate on the definition of an SQL
- Ensure the BANT criteria are reviewed at least once a quarter
- Review the reliability with which the lead generation staff assess their leads using BANT
- Ensure sales reps who prospect on their own use the same BANT criteria to assess their prospects before working them as a sales Opportunity
As you can imagine, this degree of cooperation can be a challenge. This white paper from Inflexion offers some solid advice on how to bridge the Marketing-Sales divide.
One good way to bring your own Marketing and Sales departments together would be to define your BANT criteria and begin monitoring it.