One of the ongoing topics in the struggle of sales and marketing alignment maps to the definition of timing for sales to engage with a prospect and what is a "sales-ready" lead. The answer to that question has a direct bearing on the success of any particular campaign. It also represents a component of the measurement criteria any organization would use as definition of sales-ready opportunities.

How can you figure out the answer to this question for your organization?

First, you have to look at 5 areas:

  1. Your sales cycle and methodology
  2. Average deal size
  3. Your position in the competitive environment
  4. Objectives around pipeline building
  5. Prospect behavior

One of the many areas marketing automation serves is developing the relationship in the white space between identifying a prospect and when they are ready to engage. This has clearly paid off for the companies making this investment.

However, the answer to when the rep engages truly will vary depending on the answers to the 5 areas above.

I did a post a while back about not letting BANT downgrade good leads. The point of that is if you don't redefine when you should engage, you will lose opportunities. If you have a more transactional-based sale, and it really is being in the right place at the right time, then traditional BANT may apply to you. But in large enterprise deals, buyers engage with vendors early in their project cycle, they are willing to bring you in, socialize you to the key members on their team, let you influence their requirements planning, and will develop a preference for vendors long before BANT criteria all comes together.

BANT shouldn't be the marker for when you engage, it should be the marker for when you engage differently. Your behavior as a company may change to align with the timing and budget, but you should be engaged with them before it gets to that stage if you are looking at a large opportunity. Buyer behavior has defined that requirement as they clearly are willing and want to talk with vendors early. If you wait too long, you are already entering an environment where you are displaced by relationships your competitors have already forged.

By looking at opportunities as being "engagement-ready" builds a stronger pipeline and will achieve greater revenue. Buyer behavior is a critical consideration of an engagement-ready opportunity in large enterprise sales. If a company is at an early stage of a project and they want to talk to you now, then you are investing in their eagerly maintaining the relationship all the way to getting the business!