We’ve been doing lead generation for several B2B business for the past two years. Most of these are SAAS based products for businesses helping them perform some aspect of their operations in a better way. Over time, we’ve learnt quite a few things that work in B2B lead generation.
One thing we often encounter is prospects looking for ‘buy ready’ leads in B2B Enterprise sales. These are often also referred to as ‘Sales qualified leads’ or simply ‘qualified leads’. While each prospect has a slightly different understanding of such qualified leads, most of them largely draw from the BANT methodology to define a qualification criteria:
What does BANT stand for?
B: Budget ( Does the prospect have the capacity & willingness to pay?)
A: Authority ( Does the person have authority to make the purchase?)
N: Need (Does the prospect need your product/service?)
T: Time (Does the prospect have a timeline for purchase?)
This sounds like a logical way to qualify leads. However, B2B enterprise buying has evolved over the years in several ways.
Organizations do not have budgets & timelines when they start exploring options
Buyer’s engage with possible vendors or suppliers much earlier in the buying cycle. Their concerns at this point revolve around understanding & sizing the problem, prioritising it amongst other goals and exploring how others have solved it before. They often haven’t given budget & timelines much thought yet.
In fact, sellers today are expected to educate the client about what the budget should be, what timelines they should look at amongst other things.
Single ‘Decision maker’ is a myth in modern enterprise sales.
Organizations today are too complex to have a single decision maker; rather, they typically have a decision making committee. If you are selling a Sales CRM; you would usually have people from Sales, IT, FInance & procurement at least who are all part of the decision making process.
“Gate-keepers” are an integral part of the buying process. Buying process has gotten complex with time and so have products with multiple features, dependencies and integrations to take care off. It is near impossible for the decision maker to be involved in every aspect. In modern buying, “gate keepers” aren’t obstructions created to limit access but enablers in your sales process.
Successful sales reps and organizations are the ones who are able to enter the buying funnel at an early stage and traverse the buying journey with the client, educating her at each stage.
“We still do occasionally get prospects who have a budget and timelines”
Indeed we do. There are mainly two cases when this happens.
The prospect has delayed the start of her buying process and is rushing through it. Expect a haphazard buying process with frequent changes in requirements (multiple quotations), changing priorities and unrealistic timelines in such cases.
The prospect has completed the initial buying process with a competitor and needs a competitive quote to compare & negotiate. While your sales people might be sending ‘quotations’ in such cases and even have firm budgets and timelines, you’re less likely to win such deals.
Either way, this is not a desirable state to be in for your sales team and not the goal of your B2B lead generation process.
While this is true for everyone in enterprise sales, it’s especially true for SAAS based companies selling modern products. Such products usually provide a unique/new solution which the buyers haven’t previously seen. It makes it that much harder for buyers to have a budget or a timeline for such interventions.
If you’re someone providing SAAS based modern products; you’d be better off meeting your prospects earlier and definitely much before they are ‘buy ready’.