ABM: A Look Around the Corner
When the ABM Consortium decided to host a webinar on the topic of “what’s around the corner” for ABM, I was actually surprised at how quickly the idea of BANT – budget, authority, needs, and timeline – came to my mind.
I’ve been attending all these conferences in the past few weeks, and a lot of times now when I go to conferences, I have the luxury of being able to go just to learn. I can listen to the speakers I want to listen to, meet the people I want to meet, and spend a lot of time asking questions in forums to understand how all the different players in the ABM sphere are fitting together. The other benefit of me going to these conferences is that MRP’s salespeople spend the week scheduling meetings with prospects, and I have the good fortune of being invited to tag along at a lot of these meetings.
In San Francisco for Oracle Open World, I got invited to a meeting with a company that had about $20 million in revenue. By the size of their booth, I’m guessing that maybe they had about another $40 million in funding – no joke, their booth probably cost $150k. We met with this company because we had previously begun a conversation about our predictive solution. Our salesperson was explaining to me that this company had been deep in conversations with us about how they could use predictive to prioritize their named accounts, to better engage with the accounts already in their pipeline, and to figure out which new markets they could potentially penetrate. Going in, it sounded like a perfect fit for our predictive solution.
I showed up to their booth about 5 minutes late to their meeting, so my salesperson introduced me to everyone, and out of nowhere, a salesperson from their company pops his head in and says “I don’t want any more scored leads from Marketo.” He said this in front of the VP of Sales and the Regional Director of Sales – he was openly complaining about the quality of the opportunities that he’s receiving from marketing , not knowing the massive investment in time and energy that went in to a pretty robust Marketo build out. Our salesperson jumped in to explain the reason we were there, to discuss our predictive solution and how that will help prioritize the accounts, when the VP of Sales says that he’s currently evaluating three different “tele” vendors to help fix that problem.
It took a second for me to register what he had just said, but once I did I couldn’t believe it. The VP of Sales and I ended up having a long discussion about what their real problem was: the disconnect between what marketing was producing and what the salespeople needed…the friction that causes in the pipeline. I thought to myself in an instant: I’ve had this exact conversation at conferences over the past 14 years probably 500 times.
I started asking questions about how they were doing account scoring in Marketo and that’s when they pulled over their CMO. I asked their CMO: “How do you BANT qualify your leads? Who owns that process in your sales and marketing workstream?” They didn’t know what BANT was. I was surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t have been.
When we founded MRP, our original idea was to qualify net new opportunities to this BANT gold standard on a recorded line: do you have confirmation of budget, authority, need, and timing? That’s where we started. Everything we do now evolved from that kernel, and that kernel is way deep down in the funnel.
As the conversation went on, I explained to them that the first step in which MRP can really help their organization is by helping them implement this qualification process and they’re not going to want to do that with a “tele” vendor, but with someone like us that can implement this core part of the process in the middle of the funnel and build from there. Once that’s in place, we can measure account-scored opportunities from Marketo to BANT-qualified MQL by message, by piece of content, by tactic. And then we can also measure MQL to SQL conversion by sales rep. Once that foundation in the middle of your pipeline is in place, your investment in Marketo will sing. Until then, it’s discord.
After that meeting as I thought about what’s around the corner for ABM I wondered how many organizations don’t have this core process in the middle of their funnel, the process that defines the handoff, that drives alignment, and that every dollar in marketing reflects upon. So, maybe what’s around the corner for ABM is going back to the future, back to making sure an agreed upon BANT criteria is at the heart of every ABM strategy and the glue that holds sales and marketing together.
James Regan is CMO of Market Resource Partners, a provider of end-to-end marketing and sales software and services. Jim is responsible for keeping MRP on the cutting edge of marketing services and works on the architecture and execution of MRP’s internal marketing efforts. He oversees the growing team of marketing and sales talent, and he enjoys constantly challenging them to excel.