Successful implementation of any strategic initiative often relies on the guidance of a model. In the buyer-centric world, this framework must both address the broader issue of Marketing and Sales integration and offer specific, tactical advice on how Marketers can support Sales in lead qualification. While there are several models in the marketplace, it’s our opinion that they don’t adequately address the changing market and buyer dynamics. Consequently, the goal of this page is to provide B2B Marketers with a practical model upon which they can build a successful, modern Demand Generation program.
The Left Brain Model
Some notes about The Left Brain Model (TLBM):
- TLBM is a working model designed to help Marketers build (which is why it goes up) a framework for measuring Marketing’s contribution to a Demand Generation program and to provide a structure for the nurturing and lead scoring activities that support this process.
- With TLBM, Marketers have the ability to leverage past data in order to make informed, targeted decisions about how to improve and optimize Marketing performance.
- Important metrics have corollaries. You may be concerned about conversion, but the non-converters can be a source of great information as well. While simplicity can be elegant and easy to digest, it also can fail to capture critical data.
- Any model suffers from the inherent flaw of not being flexible enough to map to a variety of specific situations. It’s a generic model, not a customized consulting engagement that measures every aspect of your unique environment.
- TLBM assumes Marketing and Sales have taken the time to collaborate and determine what constitutes a viable lead.
Stage 1: Prospects
The first stage of TLBM is the Prospect pool. The Prospect pool is the total population of Prospects a Marketer must touch in order to generate the responses required to meet the downstream goals. It’s the very top of the funnel, and ultimately informs you about what you’ll need to spend in order to achieve your revenue goal. If you’re striving for completeness, the pool should be subdivided into outbound and inbound channels.
In some cases a Marketer will have information on these Prospects, such as contacts within a Marketing database. In other instances you might be doing an email blast, collaborating with a third party on a program such as a webinar or posting content on your site without a registration form. Thus, depending on your particular mix of tactics, the Prospect pool will be a combination of known recipients and an educated estimate about the number of unknowns you’ve touched.
One could even make the argument that there is an even earlier stage called “impressions,” a term most commonly used for measuring eyeballs for traditional, interruptive media such as outdoor, television and print. Similarly, social media fits nicely into this category because your content might be available for public consumption without capturing the recipient’s information. Arguably having one metric for impressions and the next level down for known Prospects would be a more granular model. However, I’ve only heard a few B2B Marketers ever include impressions in their planning, and since it’s generally not a B2B Marketing metric; thus, TLBM combines known and unknown into one Prospect pool.
Stage 2: Respondents
The second stage of the model identifies the number of prospects that respond to the Marketing outreach to the Prospect pool. We counsel that less is more, and fewer required fields will increase your form conversion. Consequently, TLBM defines a Respondent as a prospect that provides only first and last name and a valid email address, although you may decide to require other, limited data.
Even if you’re a Marketing superstar, you’re going to get a much higher number of non-responders than responders. Breaking out the Respondents by source can yield important insights such as which Prospect acquisition channels are most effective, how certain types of collateral perform, and where to build follow-up nurturing campaigns. From an analytics perspective, tracking Prospects to Respondents will enable you to identify which Marketing channel provides the best value (e.g. cost per lead) and greatest impact (e.g. volume of leads).
Stage 3: Qualified Respondents
The third stage of the model is Qualified Respondents. Qualified Respondents are those that meet the minimal criteria of qualification, a standard determined exclusively by demographic or qualitative criteria such as title, company, company size, revenues, industry or role. This information is generally collected through form submission but may be augmented by appending Hoovers or D&B data. It can also come from Sales calls, surveys or other means. In order to move Respondents to Qualified Respondents, you will need two things: a determination of which demographic criteria constitutes a Qualified Respondent and a scoring model for evaluating whether a Respondent meets that threshold.
Focusing on the demographic criteria at this stage enables you to zero in on identifying key characteristics of likely potential buyers. Think of the process of picking a professional basketball team, and these are the folks who are taller than six feet. In a marketing context, these qualified prospects could be desirable based the right title, in an industry where your firm excels or from a company that has sufficient revenues. The goal of this step is to more easily determine which types of demographic profiles are more likely to become customers―or put another way, which Prospects align with your definition of a qualified lead. While initially you’ll be making educated guesses, over time you can review actual data on closed business from your demand generation program to validate your assumptions about qualified leads and adjust your scoring model accordingly.
Stage 4: Sales Ready Leads
Stage four is Sales Ready Leads; leads that are ready to engage with Sales. Specifically, these are leads that, in addition to meeting your demographic criteria, now also exhibit a growing level of behavioral interest that indicates a readiness to engage in a discussion with Sales. Examples of behavioral criteria include frequent Website visits, collateral downloads and social media engagements.
This step addresses one of the biggest challenges in Demand Generation programs―getting the timing right with a buyer. You may have a prospective buyer that meets all of the demographic qualifications; however, if the timing is off for making a purchase, your sales process will stall. Behavioral analysis will help you get the timing right on Sales Ready Leads. While TLBM by no means solves the challenge of determining which specific behaviors indicate a prospect’s interest in talking with Sales, separating behavioral from demographic qualification makes the modeling and management of your demand generation program considerably less complicated.
A few additional points to note. First, the data collection, interest qualification and scoring processes are not necessarily linear and all begin with the first engagement. TLBM helps you to manage when and how to use the data. Second, the path for Qualified Respondents becoming Sales Ready Leads will be varied, with some Qualified Respondents getting fast-tracked (e.g., a product demo) and others taking longer to nurture. Third, the model also acknowledges that at the Sales Ready Lead stage the prospect has evolved from “Respondent” to “Lead” by virtue of being both demographically and behaviorally qualified and thus, represents a legitimate opportunity.
Step 5: Sales Opportunities
Sales Opportunities are simply that; verified opportunities that Sales has confirmed, usually after a phone call. Clearly, this will not always be the case. For example, an organization using a Sales-run tele-qualification process would hand off the prospect earlier. Regardless of the exact point of exchange, at some stage the lead is qualified and routed to Sales in order to establish if a potential deal exists. The Sales person makes this determination and, in some companies, creates an “Opportunity” in the CRM system with a specific dollar amount. TLBM assumes that Marketing’s role changes once this determination has been made―the green line.
Stage 6: Closed deals
Deals won … need we say more.
Marketers often are told that they need a specific list of key metrics to measure success. While that sounds great, we’ve never found it to be that simple. We suggest viewing the problem another way. What’s the most basic statement a Marketer can make to his or her CEO―the empirical presentation of which is both profound and persuasive?
“In order to achieve next year’s company revenue goal, I need $X for Y-specific programs.”
Imagine having the ability to show a formula for how you’ll achieve that goal. You’ll need a variety of data points. Initially, some will be based on industry-benchmarked conversion rates and yields. Over time, they’ll be validated by real data, your data. And, if at any time in the process you decide to look backwards―not to justify your existence but to apply this knowledge in order to improve performance―using TLBM will facilitate the Marketing metrics to do that as well.
That’s a Demand Generation model that will make any Marketer successful in the Brave New World of B2B Marketing.