Everyone’s heard about the old feud between sales teams and marketing teams – the former complaining about low-quality of leads from marketing, the latter complaining about low-quality salespeople working the leads. It was a war with no winners.
Are the leads actually bad? Are certain salespeople losing deals that should be a no-brainer? Up until about the last decade, it was tough to figure out which side was in the right. The same goes for (pretty much) all marketing – attribution was tough when you didn’t have Google Analytics, Pardot, Salesforce, HubSpot, etc. at your disposal.
The lack of visibility into proper attribution was a huge reason for the rift between marketing and sales teams. It was a curtain that nobody could look behind, which meant that salespeople had to play a huge part in generating the leads that they then have to work. Cold calling, cold emailing, partnerships, relationships, trade shows were the backbone of sales-focused organizations – and still, play a huge part in many businesses to this day.
Marketing used to be much more focused on branding and awareness – because that’s all that could be “measured.” There were ways to kind of understand the effect of a billboard, print ad, etc. by reviewing your pipeline or sales volume before and after the ad, but it wasn’t an exact science. The marketing team would do their best to make people aware of the product or service, and the salespeople would run them down. Who’s to know what’s truly working (without a lot of trial and error)?
Reminds me of the old adage “Half of your marketing budget goes to waste, you just don’t know which half until you spend it.”
That used to be the case, but no more. Marketers have more knowledge, intelligence, and lead gen power than ever before.
And that brings us to the collision. The best lead generation marketers live and breathe sales intelligence. Their campaigns are set up with proper tracking not only to understand which channel leads are coming through, but which specific campaigns and even messaging is working the best. They work hand in hand with the sales team to understand how these leads are progressing through their businesses sales cycle.
They work hand in hand with the sales team to understand how these leads are progressing through their businesses sales cycle. This, in my experience, is what separates the good marketer from the great marketer. It’s not just about nailing attribution (though that is very important), the marketer needs to integrate themselves into the sales team – and vice versa.
Sales cycles can be lengthy, and marketers can’t wait for leads to close to understand what’s working and what’s not. They need to be in constant communication with the sales teams that they’re working with to understand how the salespeople feel about the leads they’re being sent. Seems a little disjointed from how measured and intelligent we can be about our leads – but this is a HUGE step that I think many marketers miss.
The sales team is experienced in their space. They’ve sold, they’ve won business, they’ve lost business. The best salespeople can get a general sense of what will and won’t close early on in the discussions. They should know what the average quality lead looks like – the size of the business, industry, job title, etc.. The best marketers know how to leverage that business intelligence from the salespeople to optimize and pivot their campaigns according to what part of their efforts bringing the best conversations to the table.
Ask yourself: does your sales team feel confident in the general quality of the leads? If you don’t know, ask them as soon as you can.
While you’re finding out that information, you can do some of your own due diligence. Assuming that you already know the general type of business/individual you should be trying to market to, you can get a head start on verifying BANT. What’s BANT? Glad you asked.
These are the four major signals that leads have true opportunity to be sold to. If a lead has BANT, then the sales team is happy. If they’re happy, we’re happy We as marketers can’t get the specific answers to BANT, but we can get pretty damn close for the sake of our own optimization and strategy.
Budget – No, we won’t be picking up the phone to talk budget with our leads, but we can do some digging about the leads we’re sending through. How big is the business? How does that compare to past and current clients? Ballpark it – but will do they have the buying power to afford your product or service?
Authority – Look up the name of the lead on LinkedIn. Do they even have a LinkedIn? Do they have a job title that may be able to make a purchase decision for a large company? If not, is there a chance they can influence that decision?
Need – This one’s easy. Does the industry/vertical/persona of the lead fit with your ideal customer profile? Will they actually need what your team is selling?
Timeline – Probably the toughest to figure out for a marketer and hardest to optimize for. This comes from communication with the sales team – though you can test some marketing messaging that could let leads self-segment based on a timeline.
This quick-and-dirty method will allow you to preliminarily optimize and pivot your efforts to whatever is driving the most relevant leads. Get a head start on this, and your sales team will love you.
In Part 2, we’ll be diving more into the sales cycle, sales tools, and long-term strategies.