Following on from my recent blog, Reignite your Lead Gen strategy, I received several questions and comments about various, often confusing aspects around lead generation. I thought I’d respond by trying to demystify some common misconceptions, differences in terminology and outline the perfect approach to building a pipeline.
As we outlined in our eGuide - 5 ways to generate qualified leads fast – there are several ways leads can be generated, with rarely just one tactic used in isolation. Often a joined-up, strategic approach provides the greatest chance of a strong ROI. With so many variables things can quickly become complicated to navigate and manage.
When is a BANT not a BANT?
The first and often most inconsistent element of lead generation is the myriad of lead categories or types – not just in their names but in the vast differences in their definitions from different suppliers and stakeholders.
Some of the more common classifications are:
- Marketing Ready Lead (MRL): A lead whereby some basic contact information (and opt-in confirmation) is captured and the contact is ready to be marketed to
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): This refers to a lead that is more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on lead intelligence. This is tracked from looking at specific behaviours or level of engagement, such as website visits and content offer downloads
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQL): Suggests that the sales team or an outsourced telemarketing supplier has qualified this lead as a potential customer. The SQL is in the buying cycle, while the MQL is not ready for that buying stage just yet and needs more nurturing
- Budget, Authority, Needs and Timeline (BANT): This is a sales qualification framework used to identify and pursue the most qualified prospects based on their budget, buying authority, needs, and timeline. A BANT is typically gathered via a telemarketing qualification follow-up to an MQL or SQL. Depending on the product or industry, gathering at least 3 of the 4 criteria will result in the lead being a hot prospect
Lead me to my leads
Ok, so you know your product, target audience and have developed a strong suite of assets covering the buyer journey (Awareness, Consideration and Decision), but what tactics do you use to reach your audience? Again, this can be a minefield with numerous routes and tactics to fill your pipeline. From Paid to Organic, to Programmatic Display to Email and Content Syndication, to name a few. Before you choose, there are more things to consider.
The long and the short of it
Having personally designed, built and executed numerous lead gen campaigns, often across large and complex international markets, things are never straight forward. One pitfall to be mindful of is assumptions made around the qualification and the criteria of a lead, which can often come back to bite you if you don't thoroughly investigate this element and understand what you are paying for.
Almost every lead gen supplier, of which there are many, will use slightly differing terminology for the types of leads they can gather. But not only that, how they might class a lead might throw more mud into the water.
Also, different suppliers offer vastly different CPLs (Cost Per Lead), some ~£1k (USD 1.3K), whereas others charge ~£100 (USD 130). This does beg the question: What’s the difference then? This can be explained by several reasons, from how the BANT questions are answered (e.g. digital vs. telemarketed), through to the quality of the information provided against each field.
There are no exact, universally accepted, lead classifications whereby businesses looking for a lead generation service can easily navigate the best approach with the best supplier. It’s not for me to define what’s right and wrong, but below are some examples of what I've heard recently;
“Our BANTs are BANTier BANTs than a normal BANT”
“You could say our MQLs or more like HQLs (Highly Qualified Leads), so similar to BANTs”
“Our MQLs are MQLs on steroids”
“I’m after medium BANTs, not high-quality BANTs”
So how many leads do I get?
Another potential pitfall is that some suppliers guarantee a lead quantity, others just guarantee several days (or an agreed time period) that they dedicate to a campaign. Is one approach better than the other? Hard to say initially, but over time TBT Marketing has built up a strong picture of suppliers and can recommend the best mix to get the best ROI.
Warning, your red tape can get in the way
By now, you probably think you are ready to commit your marketing/sales budget and start to see those leads roll in, again you’d be wrong.
Often larger companies have various compliance considerations associated with marketing and sales budgets, whether that be 3rd party Marketing Development Funds (MDF) investment rules or minimum KPI performance expectations of an activity. This can be both a help and a hindrance, so embrace it as you build your lead gen strategy.
A good example of this was one of my clients that had significant budget to generate leads across EMEA but as the funding source was from Worldwide, they demanded a minimum of 500 MQLs.
Whilst I was confident the budget and our strategy would achieve this; I knew we could do so much more. So, by speaking with a wider range of lead gen suppliers, across many disciplines, not only were we able to meet the minimum requirement of 500 MQLs, We were able to go beyond that and guarantee 650+ MQLs, of which, 400 were BANT qualified.
One final consideration is what will you do with the leads? Will you pass them straight to your Sales team or to a telemarketing resource or will they need to be nurtured further through a specific program? Again, being able to categorise the lead type and the stage they are in the buyer journey will help determine the best way to place these for optimal follow up.
So, the perfect approach?
Well, in truth, there isn’t one. With so many factors to consider or be aware of, choosing the right mix can be difficult. With 20 years behind us, TBT Marketing has the experience and confidence to manage your lead generation requirements and navigate the challenging waters for you. With an abundance of complementary digital services including Content Creation and Video Production we’re perfectly placed to drive your business forward.
If your business is struggling to find quality leads, let us help and make you Future Focused, ready for a changing world and the new normal.
Get in touch today firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0)1373 469270.