B2B ABM: Seven Sales & Marketing Tips for 2017 - Tip #2 Should Marketing and Sales Agree on the Definition of a Lead?

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Dec 14, 2016 2:05:00 PM

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Should marketing and sales agree on the definition of a lead? They should, but mostly don’t.

According to James Obermayer (Sales Lead Management Association), the fact that there is no agreement between marketing and sales on lead definition results in these problems:

  • Salespeople say that they are not getting enough qualified leads.
  • Per sales, a qualified lead is based on criteria they understand, but marketing is in dark.
  • The result? Marketing tries to generate greater numbers of prospects.
  • Asking the same questions and using the same processes, marketing continues to fail in the eyes of the salespeople.

Per Bob Apollo, simple formulas such as “BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe) are inadequate to reflect the dynamics of today’s complex buying process. If your ultimate goal is to identify well-qualified opportunities where your solution stands an excellent chance of being selected by your prospect if you implement a thoughtful and effective sales strategy, then a more sophisticated qualification process is called for.”

While it is somewhat of an improvement, I feel the same way about ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency and Money).

Bob recommends using ADOPTED as a highly refined methodology to guide the qualification process in today’s complex B2B sales environments. ADOPTED stands for: Authority, Decision Criteria, Options, Priority, Timing, Economics and Decision Process. You can read more about the ADOPTED methodology. I think that ADOPTED is a big improvement over BANT and ANUM, but I would caution against disqualifying opportunity on the basis of the potential deal missing one or more ingredients. For example, timing and economics are sometimes unknown on larger and more complex deals. If you wait to position a sales person into the deal until timing and economics are known, you have very likely waited too late.

In my book, The Truth About Leads , I provide ten attributes of a well-qualified lead. While the book is over five years old, it ties right into the hottest marketing trend - Account-based Marketing or ABM (if you want to read more about ABM, check out this 142 page resource from Engagio – it is excellent.) You can also check out this blog covering why ABM does not require new technology and does not need to be complex.

The ten attributes of a well-qualified lead are:

  1. Targeted SIC or NAICS code
  2. Firmographics (revenue, # of employees, # of locations…)
  3. Decision makers and influencers identified
  4. Environment documented (could be technical environment, compliance sensitivities…)
  5. Decision maker engaged
  6. Business pain(s) uncovered and validated
  7. Decision-making process documented
  8. Process for allocation of budget understood
  9. Competitive landscape documented
  10. Sense of urgency or compelling event exists

Unfiltered leads rarely have more than three of these attributes and waste sales’ time. But, it is a mistake to wait until you have all ten criteria when a more agile competitor got in early (with most of the criteria documented) and won before you had the chance to compete. 

An agreement between marketing and sales on minimum criteria for a lead is required for the organizations to align. Failure to share a common definition of a lead results in leads going into a black hole with little to no accountability regarding marketing spend and little to no measurement of the effectiveness of sales follow-up on the leads.


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Topics: Marketing & Sales Alignment, Account-Based Marketing

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