The MQL, the Seller and the Magic Wand

Recently, an article in Atlantic Daily written by technology watcher Alexis Madrigal declares the telephone culture of the last century to be dead. According to Madrigal 80 to 90 percent of calls are spam - robocallers leaving messages, cyborg telemarketers, spam callers simply verifying your number is real and working.  A startling 3.4 billion times in one month we hear the phone ring and make the decision to pick up or let it go. We no longer feel compelled to pick it up. No surprise that outbound callers are challenged to get appointments for sellers.

If this article is accurate, and data from BDRs and SDRs seem to validate it is, this could have a dramatic impact on marketing and sales effectiveness.

What we know is that both sales and marketing are obsessed with finding and nurturing QUALIFIED buyers because some number of these become bookings and revenue. Leads drop into the top of the funnel and marketing engineers a way to push them through the funnel – educating and persuading them until they can call them QUALIFIED. Voila - MQLs!

Marketing uses profiling (looking like a buyer) and digital behavior (acting like a buyer) to provide sales with QUALIFIED buyers. What do I mean by this?

Looking Like a Buyer: Marketing creates profiles by examining win reports. Also, a good ‘go to market’ plan will include a profile of a buyer. Profiles contain some combination of segment, vertical industry, size of company, roles/responsibilities of the buying team, size of IT budget, the tech stack and more.

Acting Like a Buyer: Today marketing has many ways to track digital behavior. We use marketing automation systems and we create opportunities for contacts to ENGAGE with our company, product or service. Singular engagements are recorded or “scored” in the marketing automation system. The engagements can be any combination of the following: visits the website, goes to a landing page, views a video, downloads a whitepaper, comes to a workshop, signs up and/or shows up for a webinar.

Here’s a simple MQL example:

Looking like a buyer:  Mary is a cybersecurity professional working at a regional healthcare delivery organization having more than 1000 employees with the title of Director, located in Chicago. This HDO has made an investment in Cisco networking devices, EMC storage and has implemented EPIC and subscribes to AWS public cloud.

Acting like a buyer: Here’s Mary’s digital behavior. She came by the booth at RSA. Since then she has opened 2 emails sent as follow up to RSA. She followed a link to a landing page, downloaded an infograph. In the following weeks, she visited the website and downloaded a gated ebook. There are 2 senior IT managers – Mary’s colleagues - that have also been to the website. There are indicators (via paid promotion) that security professionals from this HDO have engaged with your syndicated content and promoted content on other sites.

But to get an MQL into the working pipeline – the bottom of the funnel – sales insists on QUALIFIED AND READY to BUY. Sales expects an MQL to answer the phone, take a meeting and if that doesn’t happen – an MQL could be rejected. If we can’t solve for this, thousands of qualified buyers will languish in the funnel until someone verifies they are READY to buy.

I’ve often joked that for sales a QUALIFIED buyer is someone standing on a street corner waving an order form or contract. Or, someone who always answers their phone, wearing a smile and a T-Shirt that reads READY WHEN YOU ARE!

And now for the magic wand: Maybe sales and marketing could use simple surveys – embedded in emails – to get validation on readiness.

Check back here next week for how to validate readiness and get more meetings to SELL!