By Andrew Gaffney, Editor
The very first item that must be checked off before a prospect is considered “sales ready” is whether or not the company has a stated budget for the solution offered. If the prospect answers “no” or even unsure to that first Budget question, it typically doesn’t matter how they qualify on the Authority, Need and Timing components of a BANT scoring system.
However, in the current business climate, many executives I’ve talked with indicate that very few projects have been given the final budget stamp this year. Instead, investments have been labeled “pending” or “postponed.”
The unfortunate reality with the way most BtoB demand generation systems are structured, a CIO with a strong business case for a new software solution will be moved into the same lead nurturing bucket as a department head that will never have the juice to green light a major project.
As buying cycles are delayed, BtoB organizations need to consider adjusting their traditional BANT criteria to one that focuses on AINT—Authority, Interest, Need and Timing. Considering ready-buyers are harder to come to by in this market, the real competitive advantage will be realized by those organizations that help their prospects justify spending budgets now.
Lead scoring should still be a vital part of every organization’s demand generation strategy. However, the luxury of limiting sales activity to ready buyers will leave a lot of companies out in the cold. In a world where many sectors are basing their sales forecasts on the outcome of the government stimulus package, factors like Budget and Timing will likely be fluid for at least the remainder of 2009.
In his Digital Body Language blog, Eloqua founder Steven Woods recently defined this category of the upper crust of pre-budget prospects as “future likelies.” He suggests the art of progressing these “future likelies” will be in differentiating between a ‘good prospect’ and a
‘good prospect who's interested.’ “This comes down to looking at inbound interest level and web activity to determine whether it appears that they are the right executive in a buying cycle, or just the right executive,” Woods wrote.
As leading BtoB organizations become more sophisticated with lead scoring and lead nurturing tactics, the strategies of the future will likely call for multi-level nurturing. In this model, “future likelies” who are the right executive at the right company with interest in your solution, will be put on an accelerated track with the goal of helping them secure the Budget and Timing components of the BANT equation.
The content needs for these executives will be unique and the delivery of the offers may need to be tailored to their preferences, but in the end it will likely be what separates the companies who are closing deals in a tight economies from those who ain’t.