Finally on the same page
Embracing niche markets and focusing our marketing efforts on the target accounts within them has an interesting side benefit—
Suddenly, marketing and sales (and service) are all talking the same language.
Gone are the days of vanity traffic metrics and inflated MQL numbers.
When we’re starting from a defined list of target accounts, it becomes much more difficult to fudge the data and deal in abstractions.
But it’s not enough to just talk the same language.
To maximize your revenue potential, you also need to synchronize your efforts.
This moves beyond marketing and sales simply playing nicely with each other and having clearly defined roles.
Ideally, this is more like synchronized swimming than a medley relay.
It will require the deep integration of both people and systems in new and different ways than you’re used to.
And it probably won’t feel like the way you used to sell.
BANT is Bunk
Budget, authority, need, timeline. BANT.
This has been ingrained as close to gospel in today’s sales culture.
When a prospect has budget, authority, need and timeline, they are then deserving of sales attention.
Until then, they’re marketing’s problem.
But if you compete within niche markets, nothing could be more ridiculous.
As a manufacturing marketer, you are on a mission to make contact with your target accounts.
And once that contact is made, the next step should be determined by what that account needs in order to move closer to becoming a customer.
The next step shouldn’t be determined by some arbitrary divide between marketing and sales.
And it shouldn’t be determined by whether or not they’ve met BANT criteria.
Why isn’t budget important?
It isn’t important at this stage because you already know they can afford what you sell, otherwise they wouldn’t be on your target account list.
They’ve met the firmographic thresholds required (revenue, employee size, etc.) to already indicate they can pay.
Why isn’t authority important?
The old days of looking for the one and only person who has signing authority on a purchase decision are long gone.
We live in a world of consensus-driven buying committees.
Those committees are getting bigger and bigger.
The fact is, when a contact from one of your target accounts converts and becomes known to you and your organization, there’s no way for you to know if they will impact a future buying decision.
Navigating the complexities of purchase authority within a target account is something that happens as part of a sales process, not something that happens as a prerequisite for receiving sales attention.
Why isn’t need important?
It isn’t important at this stage because you already know they need what you sell, otherwise they wouldn’t be on your target account list.
They may already buy from your competitor.
They may not yet know they need what you sell.
But you know they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the list.
Why isn’t timeline important?
Because timelines change.
Your prospect doesn’t know everything you know when they first make contact with you.
Is it possible that you know something they don’t that may drive a heightened level of urgency? I hope so.
Nevertheless, the one thing we can all agree on about buying cycles is that they seem to just be getting longer.
Beyond that, as your marketing becomes more focused on the target accounts that define your niche markets, you begin to engage prospects earlier.
You’re gaining visibility into a part of the buying process that you didn’t have access to before—so your old timelines may not apply.
Lastly, every salesperson wants to be in a position to have influence on purchase specifications.
Set the spec, win the deal.
Those early moments of the buying process, perhaps well before a timeline is established, are often your best opportunities to influence spec.
One small investment by sales at this early stage could be the butterfly that sets off a sales hurricane several months later.
It’s best not to let this opportunity fall to the wayside simply because of arbitrary BANT criteria.
BANT is bunk, full stop.
The unlimited traffic myth revisited
Just as traditional B2B marketing leads manufacturing marketers down the path of thinking the top-of-funnel is unlimited, traditional inside sales thinking is similarly flawed.
Many of the “inside sales machine” models promoted by industry gurus are based on there being an unlimited number of prospects available to receive a flurry of phone calls and sales emails from lower tier business development reps.
For manufacturing organizations, this is just not true.
You grow within niche markets.
The number of prospects you have is finite.
These high volume inside sales models are simply a recipe for alienating your limited number of prospects, frustrating them with too many calls and too many emails.
Yes, as a manufacturer, inside or remote selling is going to be a bigger part of your sales future.
Just be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking your inside sales model is going to be the same as the ones talked about in most B2B inside sales books.
You will require more experienced, technically astute inside sales professionals for what is likely to be a longer, more consultative sales process.
The “quality vs quantity” balance you will find is going to look a lot different than it does for other B2B segments, driving differences in both resourcing and structure.