Good formulas and frameworks never go out of style.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that BANT was considered passe by two of my colleagues who suggested:
"BANT? You know I love you brother. But BANT went out about 15 years ago. No qualification should deal with budget upfront. Deal with the need, what the problem is that you’re solving. If there’s a significant compelling event, budget will be there. But asking that upfront before we’ve aligned on the problem is the easy route to sales where you’re looking to pick off opportunities from bottom of funnel. Working top of funnel is harder and takes time, but is far more strategic!"
"BANT is something that I feel might be less relevant these days - it depends on your industry. Budget - Incredibly overrated. If the impact of not solving the problem is great enough, they'll find the money; Authority - Even CEOs these days like to build buy-in; Need - Here's where I think we SHOULD focus Timing - If the need is great enough along with impact, that will drive urgency."
Budget is something you should deal with way up front. Don’t market or sell a channel integration system to the single retail outlet operator. Know who your ideal customer profile is, determine what their appetite is for your offering before you waste precious people, time and money. Creating the budget early on in the buyer’s journey may be worthwhile but if only it is feasible.
Authority is not overrated and yes, single decision makers are as common as unicorns. Are you marketing to the right personas with meaningful content that will drive a decision? If your marketing and selling effort is not reaching the right authorization levels in the buyers' organization, making your revenue number is going to be tough.
Need, both colleagues recognize that need can drive budget and timing. Well done if you’re dealing at the right authorization level. How many times have you seen talented sales people stymied by a blocker? Now really talented sales people get beyond the blocker most of the time, but not always. Start with your marketing, by identifying personas and their needs, tailor content and adjust for compelling events. Are you reaching the right level in the organization to stimulate need?
Timing may not be relevant, if you don’t have quota or a quarterly revenue number to hit. If you do, then building a pipeline of opportunities with customers who will buy over a time horizon is critical if you are going to hit your quarterly number, quarter after quarter. Marketing's goal should be the number of sales qualified leads that close, this quarter and each quarter there after.
Buyers go on varying journeys, selling cycle terminology is constantly evolving. You can ask four questions in an account review, regardless of B2B, B2G or B2C and know whether or not your marketer and seller are aligned and your revenue number is secure.
Digging into Budget, Authority, Need and Timing provides revenue focused executives with a clean way to shave away irrelevant variables, which what William of Okham meant before the term "occam's razor" was coined.
Whether you are a Chief Executive Officer, Director of Marketing or a Sales Operations Manager; if you have a role in revenue, BANT is the framework for identifying gaps and aligning teams. Just like a2 + b2 solves for the length of c2.
Six month ago our client was hiring a vice president of marketing. We had helped them re-write the job profile, shuttled some qualified resumes their way and were preparing the executive team to start the dating process. It was important to have the team understand, to get A-Player talent, they would need to approach the interview process more like dating and less as a perfunctory obligation.
First dates can be awkward, so can job interviews. On first dates people start off getting to know each other before diving into "tell me about your greatest weakness". We coached the team on what questions to ask on the first date, what answers they might anticipate and how to ensure the right A-player gets the offer because we were not bringing them any B or C-players.
One of the key questions on the menu was; "in your opinion what should marketing's primary goal be?" The answer varies with the interview.
For the Chief Financial Officer, Return On Marketing Investment or ROMI is an appropriate answer, along with a brief outline of contributing factors of the calculation and questions about the hiring organizations exisiting ROMI efforts.
The Human Resource professional should expect an answer along the lines of revenue attribution and growth, team development along with creating a brand identity that attracts and retains and talent.
The sales leader should expect a variant of this answer; "to generate sales qualified leads that sellers can close." Conversations on ROMI or brand identity are not marketing A-player responses for this first date. Marketing A-players should be able to walk the sales leader through the buyer's journey describing how to create an ideal customer profile, providing criteria for stages and lead scoring. This first date conversation will help the sales leader form a relationship with the marketing A-player; this is a person who can be trusted to help grow revenues. A solid first date outcome.
On the second or third date, A-player marketers should be willing to discuss revenue based accelerators as part of their compensation package. A-players are confident their marketing efforts will contribute to revenue growth.
After six months, the CEO, CFO and Sales VP reported they had hired well. They didn't just hire an A-player, the dating process had led them to the right A-player. The number of sales qualified leads had improved along with the close rates; revenue growth realized.
Don asked a great question, am I too old to launch a game changing start up?
Let's look at history:
The list goes on and on. Granted, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates started well before their 50's.
If age is not the qualifier for launching a game changing startup, what is? There are three essential elements that must exist simultaneously for game changing start ups to succeed.
The founder's passion is essential, joined with passion of the team required to launch the business. Regardless of industry, research supports that only half of new businesses survive longer than 5 years, only one-third survive longer than 10 years. Putting in long hours is a given, start ups require lots of care and feeding, and that requires passion from everyone.
Market potential in the sense of building a better mouse trap and having the world beat a path to your door is still applicable. Is your distruptive start up filling a need or a me too? Can you differentiate your start up sufficiently to stand out from the crowd? Coca-Cola's differentiator was it's recipe, branding and bottling network. In the days when soda was limited to a fountain, bottling with the distinctive branding became the key differentiator that catapulted Coca-Cola to prominence. Can you develop an Ideal Customer Profile and does your differentiator map to their preferences?
Founders are often called out, but it is often the team they build around them that carries the innovation forward. Pemberton died two years after founding Coca-Cola, a team of savvy bottlers propelled the product into new markets. Teams aren't just the collection of people in your office or company, they are often the partners or distributors you attract. Your teams need to see the same market potential and have the same passion you do.
Age is not a handicap when it comes to start ups. It can be an enabler. Older entrepenuers can have a wealth of experience and financial stability that distinguishes them from younger start ups.
Larger companies like Cisco and GE have taken senior personnel, removed them from the corporate heirarchy, placing them into incubators with talent and resources to enable them to develop their next internal start up.
It's not too late to disrupt with the right passion, market potential and team.
Ascendiosa can help accelerate your start up's trajectory.
Content Marketing is the new shiny object in the marketing world. It seems like it all started with the term, “content is king”, coined by Bill Gates in 1996 – 21 years ago. In the last few years, the marketing industry has finally started to put some methodology behind “content marketing” as a discipline. According to Deloitte, we are about 3 years into using “content marketing” as a tool to reach potential customers. Not everyone has figured out how to be successful with their content marketing efforts yet. In fact, at this point, many companies are flooding the marketing with their “content” without a plan. This is causing their customers to get distracted and affecting sales goals. Therefore, a “content strategy” is needed to guide customers through their journey also known as the sales funnel.
So what is the difference between Content Strategy and Content Marketing?
Content Strategy – “the plan”
The plan for how a company will use content to fulfill a need, or solve a problem for its customer, while simultaneously helping it achieve a business goal. This plan should span brand and all product lines within the company. When companies don’t have a strategy in place companies often produce too much content that is disparate, depletes resources and becomes ineffective due to lack of direction.
Content Marketing – “the action”
Development of assets throughout the funnel that target specific personas with the purpose of inspiration and education. Providing this kind of information to customers and potential customers reinforces brand, delights our customers, gives us credibility as an expert in the field and creates advocates.
The key is 3 fold:
Themes must ladder back to the brand and product messages, addressing each target audience need at each level of the funnel. It is a lot to sift through and still come up with a set of always-on unique and inspiring content. Organizations must agree cross-functionally on the message, the stories, the themes and the tactics. This agreement, in and of itself, can be a major time suck. It takes a special person to align several organizations on a plan that can consume 30%-50% of their budget.
Infiltrating your content throughout all your marketing programs is incredibly important. Writing a blog that links to a whitepaper or some educational content is ideal but, simply placing it on your company website will not drive traffic and will be an expensive disappointment. Driving readers to the blog from your brand and product webpages, demand generation, 3rd party platforms, email, social media (internal and external), IB newsletters and leveraging channel partner will yield views and downloads you will get excited about.
There is a big difference in throwing knowledge out in the world randomly vs. building a relationship with your customers by giving them the information they need and at the right moment. Building a content strategy that aligns with the brand and product messages and leads the customer through the sales funnel by telling the right stories, at the right place in the customer journey with content that is relevant and in the right format takes time and thought.
In the customer journey, make it easy for your customer to:
Last, make your content relevant to your target audience and ensure you are writing content that will help your customer succeed. You really don’t want to talk about yourself the whole time. In fact, you don’t want to talk about the benefits of your product until you get to the education level of the funnel. Consider relationships, when you meet someone you don’t talk about yourself the whole time. If you do, that person will likely not want to talk to you again. In the beginning of a relationship, we should be focusing on each other, what makes the other tick, what inspires or drives them. Ascendiosa can help your organization disrupt with content strategy and execution of marketing programs.
Author: Joanna Coburn drives integrated marketing strategies and best practices to improve marketing effectiveness, sales, and bottom line results.
Not all customers are created equal, some have a much higher propensity to buy. Can your team put a bullseye on those most valuable customers, focusing marketing, sales and support to ensure resources are allocated properly? Can your team create an ideal customer or buyer profile? Did you know that Ideal Customers are ten times less likely to churn or leave, than those that don't fit the profile?
Your most valuable customers cost less to acquire and are more profitable. Now, what attributes do they have? At the basic level there are five steps to identifying your most valuable customers.
Define the objective along with 5 to 7 variables that are distinct and contribute to the outcome. Test for dependency. Demographics or firmographics such as annual revenue, profit, industry, employees, people in the household, miles from a certain location, number of purchases, value of purchases, and so on. This exercise requires a fundamental understanding of the outcome and contributing variables. It also requires a certain amount of curiosity and bias aversion. Are there outliers, not in your current data set, that drive the outcome? Consider weather, commodities, consumer confidence, wholesale price index or other publicly available data.
Take all the data from your records, all the customers who bought in the past 6-months or year, filter out those 5 to 7 defined contributing variables and calculate the mean and standard deviation for each.
For every customer in the set, compute difference between the values in that customer and the entire set, divide by the standard deviation of the set. This yields standard scores between the variables so they can be compared on the same scale.
Next, compute the summary score for each customer or the average of its standard scores.
Order the customers from high to low based on those summary scores and the desired outcome. Watch for the patterns to emerge, you’re now ready to build your propensity to buy formula. Customers above the 80th percentile are your most valued customers. Now you can apply your resources to prospects who look like those customers; and focus your support efforts on the top 80th percentile.
Does this approach apply to B2B, B2C, and Non-profit? Yes. Start-ups or enterprise sized organizations? Definitely.
What if you don’t have the all data necessary? Companies like Dun & Bradstreet make a living compiling and cataloguing data on businesses. Geospatial and consumer data is more readily available today than ever before. If you need data to fill in some blanks, there’s a list for that.
Getting started requires your organization to do some primary research up front; structured interviews with personnel, buyers, consumers is a great place to start. Validate and refine the contributing variables. Be mindful of bias, look for the outliers. The reward for running this exercise is championship performance, can your team afford anything less? Ascendiosa can help.
Author: Mark Miller is Ascendiosa's Chief Commercial Officer