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2 Posts authored by: Sarah Hums-Oracle

It’s really tempting when creating your lead scoring model to include some super high buying indicator fields that automatically identify someone as a SIZZLING HOT lead.


An example:


“When are you looking to evaluate solutions for an XYZ initiative?”

  1. a) We are currently evaluating (Super sizzling, walking barefoot on coals hot)
  2. b) We plan to evaluate in 6-12 months (Arizona in July, put on sunscreen hot)
  3. c) 12-24 months (Keeping the bacon warm in the oven hot)
  4. d) More than 2 yrs (champagne chilling for midnight on New Years cold)
  5. e) We already have a solution (currently living in an igloo in Antarctica cold)
  6. f) We are never going to evaluate (our toes have fallen off due to frostbite cold)


Obviously at first glance, you’d want to weight this question really heavily and score really high on a) and b), right?

But what if only a small percentage of your prospects actually get a chance to answer that question? What about people who come into your database and enter lead scoring from a source that did not include the opportunity to provide an answer to it?


If you are weighting this question significantly higher than the other scoring criteria, there’s a large chance of most of your prospects aren’t getting a high enough score to become an MQL – because they won’t be getting a score on this question AT ALL.


Then you’re in a NOT SO HOT situation – with a sales team that’s wondering where all the leads are, and a marketing team frustrated that the lead scoring model they spent all that time on on isn’t working the way they had hoped.


So here is my advice – don’t use that field to score.


How can that work, you ask? How can we possibly IGNORE a question that is explicitly telling us who is and is not ready to talk to sales?


The answer is, you don’t IGNORE it. You just don’t include it in scoring model.


Here’s why.


The example question above looks a lot like a “Timeline” question that is usually part of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) qualification.


BANT questions are typically really intimate – getting straight at whether that person is ready to be talking actively with sales about solutions now, with no messing around. Often we see these questions being uncovered by the sales rep, in a one-to-one sales conversation after they receive and accept a lead from marketing.


But at the top of the funnel, where lead scoring usually occurs, most people aren’t ready to answer those questions yet. In fact, they may not even know the answers to those questions, because when people enter our scoring programs after downloading a piece of content, clicking on our emails, visiting our websites and landing pages, or dropping by our trade show booths, they are not even remotely qualified to be an MQL yet. We still have work to do to get them there, through our nurture programs and other marketing campaigns.


In short – your BANT criteria may not belong in your lead scoring.  That doesn’t mean these fields and questions cannot be used within automation to expedite qualification of some sort. In fact, they can be used to get the sizzling hot leads to sales FASTER if you don’t score on them, and if you configure your acceleration processes in the right way.


Making BANT Work for You Outside of Lead Scoring


Take someone who is not otherwise qualified from your lead scoring criteria. Maybe they have only dropped a business card in a trade show booth, but via your follow up emails they have filled out a form and answered this one BANT question with answer “a)” – so we know that they are currently evaluating and, hence, SUPER SIZZLING HOT.


By our lead scoring criteria, they aren’t quite close enough to be considered MQL – they haven’t interacted enough or maybe we don’t know enough about them to give them a high enough profile score yet. But because they’ve answered this question, we don’t want to wait for their lead score to catch up before we jump them in line and send them over to our sales team. Resting and waiting here is what makes lead scoring backfire!


Instead, you can put in place a separate process flow that bypasses the score-based lead routing and accelerates them DIRECT to MQL based on their response. (Technical Tip: you can do this using a Form Processing Step that sends that sends them to the CRM update program immediately and triggers lead assignment rules in CRM if they respond a certain way. You could also trigger a task to be assigned to the rep in CRM.)


So you would have two ways for someone to get to sales - 1) if they answer that BANT question right, regardless of what else they have done or who they are or what their lead score is; 2) They organically meet the criteria for the traditional scoring model.


At any point, a person can have the opportunity answer the BANT question during a campaign and jump the line to go straight to MQL – but you don’t have to goof around with your precious scoring model to make that happen.


Moral of the story? Seriously consider if putting BANT criteria in your top of funnel scoring model is going to deliver the results you are hoping for. If the answer is no, but you really want to incorporate BANT into your qualification process, find another way to automate it. Lead scoring and BANT – which are not necessarily the best of friends – can learn to cooperate in a way that maximizes opportunity for lead generation and maintains some sense of order in your scoring program.

Today I've spent a lot of time organizing a new initiative at my company that I'm really excited to have been asked to lead.

With the support of senior executives, we have formed a Lead Management Task Force to do three things:


1.  Evaluate and document the current lead generation, lead flow and lead follow up process (particularly noting all challenging areas)

2.  Draft a "Future State" vision for what the Lead Management process will look like if we could wave a magic wand and make it all come true

3.  Build requirements to implement the new process once approval is obtained from our Executive Board


How did I start?


First, let's talk about who is on the team.


We have 10 members of this team representing our two main U.S. divisions and central services. The breakdown is as follows:

2 Sales Account Executives

1 Senior Sales Manager

1 Sales Operations Specialist

2 VPs of Marketing

2 Marketing Coordinators

1 Marketing Manager

2 Marketing Automation & Operations


I started off with a kickoff meeting where I listened intently to every single person answer this question:  "Explain the current process as you see it today."  For the most part, everyone said the same thing, which means they all understood where we are today. The next question is where it got interesting.


"What are the challenges with the current process in the context of your role?"


Hello, open floodgates!  This is where the truth came out. Considering I was one of the people who implemented the current process to begin with, I had to try VERY hard to keep my mouth shut and just listen to what they had to say! The insight and perspectives were varied and valuable and gave everyone a lot to think about. I quickly realized that this project could become incredibly overwhelming and so complicated that we could quickly get paralyzed - so I decided some creative project management was needed.


Getting it under control

I took a few days to get my head around what I'd heard. I took my notes from the meeting and looked for trends in the feedback. Then I outlined each stage of the lead management process as defined by the team in our kickoff meeting, and listed the corresponding challenges in a chart. But looking at that didn't make it less overwhelming, so I needed to take it a step further.


There was no way that a team of ten (who all have other full time jobs, by the way) would be able to efficiently and effectively tackle this list, so I created the concept of "Expert Teams." Each stage of our defined process was assigned to one of three Expert Teams containing the people who were most impacted by and invested in the activity at that stage.


The larger group has decided to initially meet every two weeks. The Expert Teams will meet separately in between large group meetings to focus specifically on creating plans for their assigned stages of the process. At our large group meetings, we'll discuss the progress of the Expert Teams and talk about smooth transitions between the stages that the individual teams have been working separately on.


What's Next

In the next two weeks I will have met with every Expert Team and the final "Current State" documentation will be complete. Next, we will begin working on our "Future State" plan. I intend to steer these Expert Team meetings using some really great Eloqua resources, such as the Lead Management Workbook from the RLC course I took last year, and the Funnel Stage Definitions worksheet.


Stay tuned as I blog about this project and our journey to tighten up our process and better align our sales and marketing teams around the revenue funnel!

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