As a marketeer, I love inbound marketing techniques. Why? You can scale it. Once you have it up and running, it will generate more or less predictable revenue. Furthermore, when you have identified a working lead generation engine, you can increase the budget to generate the maximum number of leads your organisation can support both commercially as technically).
Inbound is often criticized. Who is going to buy a €100.000 yearly recurring service over the internet? People don't buy a car online, so why would they spend this amount of money just over the internet? Although it is possible to sell this amount through inbound (think Salesforce, Hubspot, Jira,...) at a certain deal size, outbound might become more efficient and important. In general, what we see is that inbound can perform better at small deal sizes and outbound performs better at large deal sizes. Have a look at the graph below. It was created by The Bridge Group. This San Francisco based SDR, Account Executive and Customer Success consultancy group, makes yearly an analysis of almost 400 B2B SaaS companies and plots the attribution of each team (marketing + marketing qualification (inbound), SDR (outbound)) to the total account executives (sales) pipeline. Notice how there is a shift from inbound to outbound as deal size increases.
As mentioned before, outbound's contribution to the sales pipeline increases as with ticket size. The ones paying attention might notice, but this doesn't add up to 100%? That's correct, also customer success, account executives, referrals and re-sellers contribute to the sales pipeline. Those numbers were not made available in the study.
Long story short, although I'm a huge advocate of inbound marketing, at certain deal sizes it is at least as important to focus on developing a good outbound marketing strategy.
The outbound activity consists of a typical number of tasks. Typically people will:
Most companies will define the following KPIs
If things go bad, the natural reaction is, just increase the number of interactions and your number of meetings booked will go up, and you will do more sales, right?
No, wrong, doing this is the same as saying, I'm working with a bunch of monkey's, and as long as I push enough my output will increase. And potentially you can increase your output doing so. Honestly, if this is the approach you would like to go for, it's probably more efficient to hire a call center. Nothing against call centers BTW. I'm sure they'll do a better job at maximizing the number of calls and having people read scripts than you as a sales manager could ever do as an individual.
Luckily, a good outbound strategy is much more than just maximizing the number of interactions. So if you would like to build an SDR team in-house, you probably want to define different KPIs for your team to work towards to. And the 4th KPI, and probably the one you should focus on is called, number of opportunities qualifed.
BANT is a qualification technique originally developed by IBM. It is used in several sales organisations as the standard for lead qualification. BANT stands for.
According to the framework, an opportunity is qualified if for all four elements the answer to the question is 'yes'. And vice versa, an opportunity is disqualified if the answer to one of those questions is 'no'. It's clear that if there is no budget, if the person has no purchasing authority, if there is no need, and if the timing is off there is no opportunity in selling at that moment in time. This doesn't mean there is no opportunity at all. Maybe if you find the right person you can sell? Or maybe you can sell next year? What it just means is that your sales team shouldn't put any effort in it until the lead get's qualified.
Lately there has been a lot of skepticism around doing a BANT analysis in a SaaS environment. One such person is Jacco Van Der Kooij a pretty well known sales guru. It appears that both members of your sales team using BANT to qualify, have struggles using the method.
*(Sales Development Representatives or outbound sales reps. These are the people cold calling / LinkedIn Sales Navigator,...)
Furthermore there are some other issues, especially in SaaS companies.
So Jacco suggest to keep BANT, but rephrase it a bit and change the order. This is how he would approach it.
Others have been skeptical about IBM's approach as well. Hubspot for instance, developed their own qualification framework called GPCTBA/C&I, which I will frankly, never be able to remember by heart.
Reading about this approach, it more or less follows the concepts of the challenger sale, where you as a sales rep are not longer focused primarily on building relationships, but where you'll focus on providing a vision on how a customer could actually benefit from your solution in a longer period of time.
Let's have a look at Hubspot's GPCTBA/C&I framework.
Hubspot splits its framework into three distinct steps. The first one is called GPCT, the second step is BA and the third step is C&I. Let's have a look at GPCT first.
You might notice that this will result in a more lively conversation over asking the typical BANT questions. Having done both approaches myself I must warn that asking for a companies goals in a cold call is not always easy. You might get the answer, that's confidential! Who are you anyway? Why do you care? That said, when you get through it, you'll qualify a lead on a completely different level.
The second step is about Budget & Authority. Just like with BANT, it's clear that you can't sell if there is no budget, or no priority in putting a budget to your project. Furthermore, it's important to identify the different authorities early on in the process to identify the approval process.
The final step is about Negative Consequences & Positive Implications. A very good CEO once told me, Ruben, whenever we do a sale, our goal should be that the person we're selling to can make a promotion within her or his company within the next year. That's about the strongest relation you can build with a customer. And, if they flourish, you'll flourish as well. So it could be interesting to request the negative consequences & positive implications coming from the decision your customer takes.
So what framework to go for? Well, it depends a little on your situation and the budget you have available for prospecting. After all, the more complex the framework becomes, the more time it will take to qualify the lead. So it might not be a good idea to use the GPCTBA/N&I framework if your deals are only between €100-€500 Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), because it would be too expensive and the impact you have on your customer is probably rather limited as well.
But what is most important is that if you don't have any qualification method yet installed, you should implement it as soon as possible. It will dramatically improve how your deals are moving through your sales pipeline and will result in more sales, more revenue and even higher sales ticket prices.
And if you don't know how to get started with this, just drop me a note.