In this post “ALL B2B SALES LEADS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL”, author Garrett Hollander references a BtoB Magazine study according to which only 23% of sales professionals say marketers deliver sales-ready leads.
When I read this, it struck me that “sales-readiness” is fast becoming an outdated concept. In today’s world of Buyer 2.0, the prospect has covered far more ground in their purchase journey by the time they call sales. By that time, they could end up being “sales ready” for a competitor. So waiting for a lead to become sales ready is recipe for disaster these days.
According to pundits, the key to success in today’s world of Buyer 2.0 is to reach out to the buyer earlier in the purchase cycle when they have “emerging needs” (per CEB) or are even “unware” of their pain areas (per Gartner). We agree. You can find our guidance in “Ensuring That Buyer 2.0 Contacts *Your* Sales”. Ergo, a vendor should engage with the buyer well before a lead is deemed to be sales-ready.
So the real question is who should do this: Marketing or Sales?
Marketing is responsible for creating content that helps the buyer to make progress along their purchase journey. Guidelines for marketing collateral that will resonate with buyers at this stage can be found on the sidebar on the right. Marketing should also ensure wide circulation of such content via website, analysts, industry journals and social media. In many cases, Marketing may also be able to step up to the plate and engage with individual prospects remotely via email and telephone.
However, this won’t suffice in B2B technology with $$$$$ ticket size.
Some amount of face-to-face meetings will be required to walk the prospect through the content and deftly steer them towards the vendor’s offering.
If sales sits on the high horse of BANT and other old-fashioned lead qualification approaches, these leads will be lost to competition. Sales will hasten its demise.
On the other hand, if Sales wakes up to the new reality and reskills itself to engage with prospects earlier in the purchase cycle, it’d prove its worth and prove doomsday prophets that predicted the loss of millions of B2B sales jobs wrong.
It’s not that sales is not required. It’s that there’s a change in what sales needs to do in order to stay relevant in today’s world.