By Dan McDade, President and CEO, PointClear, LLC
Two things have restored my faith in humanity so far this year. One is an article by ITSMA’s Julie Schwartz in which she writes “70% of buyers want to engage with sales reps before they identify their short list” (her research actually shows it is 71%).The other is a quote in one of Craig Rosenberg’s too cool for school “Madlibs” — this one authored by Gary Hart — which says: “Over the next couple of years in sales, I can’t wait to see lead generation that gets sales people in at the beginning of the buying cycle.”
Today, when I searched for the phrase "70% Of Buying Process is Complete before sales needs to be involved" I got 5,000,000 plus hits. A bandwagon couldn’t hold all of the misguided souls who have jumped onto this crazy notion. In this article Dave Brock offers some good advice:
“Great sales professionals don’t wait until the customer recognizes a problem and decides to do something about it. They create visibility and awareness of the opportunities the customer might be missing. They create a vision for growth, improvement, and achievement. They engage the customer in thinking about how to perform at higher levels and how to grow. Whatever you call it — consultative, solution, provocative, insight-based, or challenger selling — great sales people are agitators (in the best sense of the word), evangelizing and getting customers to own the need to change and improve.”
I could not agree more.
Mad crowds were responsible for “tulip mania” and the “dot-bomb” eras. As it happens, individual thought leaders are no more accurate than crowds at predicting the future:
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
(Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943)
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
(Ken Olson, President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977)
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
(Bill Gates, 1981)
“$100 million dollars is way too much to pay for Microsoft.”
Mad crowds (and some individuals) are convincing us that today’s buyer is so sophisticated that they navigate themselves through most of the buying process (doing Internet research, talking to peers and using social media) rendering sales useless until the buyer is 70% of the way through the sales process (oh, forgive me, it is the “buyer’s journey”).
If you believe that, I have some shares of BANT I would like to sell you. BANT. That is another load of baloney absolute scoundrels are trying to sell you. Ask many marketers, and most sales people, what kind of leads they want and they will tell you “BANT-qualified leads.” Most of you probably already know that BANT is budget, authority, need and timeframe. Here is what Lori Wizdo from Forrester has to say about BANT in an article for Marketo called “Lead Nurturing for Tech Companies and Software Companies:”
Effective nurturing begins at the early stages of the customer’s buying cycle, when the customer is probing the need, scoping the solution, and planning for a technology evaluation and purchase. Customers in the early stages of a purchasing decision are open to knowledge, insight, and even guidance from a tech vendor. But, they are not willing to be grilled by an aggressive sales rep on their sales worthiness.
I am not, as it is probably pretty obvious, a “BANTaholic.” Demanding BANT-qualified leads ensures that you are going to be competing against an entrenched vendor who has probably already won the business. In other words, you are column fodder.
If you are selling widgets then you might wait around for the buyer to find you. If you are selling a complex product, service or solution, you better not wait until the buyer is 70% through the buying process before you get involved. That is a loser’s decision.
Now, don’t get me started on “cold calling is dead.”
Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase. The Sales Lead Management Association named Dan one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management for the last four consecutive years. Dan’s first book, The Truth About Leads, is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue. Read Dan’s blog: ViewPoint l The Truth About Lead Generation. Contact Dan by email: firstname.lastname@example.org