The aim of a salesperson is clear: sell as much as possible. To this end, it is essential to approach the sales process strategically and systematically. In order to avoid wasting time trying to sell to an unqualified lead, you have to optimize your methods of qualifying leads.
The classic BANT model provides a solid lead qualification checklist:
The lead has the necessary funds to buy the product or service.
If the lead is not sure they can afford to buy your product, there is no point in progressing any further. In this way, the salesperson must assess the purchasing power of the lead early on.
Instead of blatantly asking how much money the consumer or company has to spend, the salesperson can ask qualifications questions such as:
- ‘If we find a solution to your problem, will funding be able to move it forward?’
- ‘What do you usually allocate funds to?’
- ‘Is this something you are willing to allocate funds towards?’
The lead is in a position within their company to decide to make a purchase.
You need to establish that you are communicating with someone that is allowed to spend company money – if you are not, it is worth asking to speak to someone who can.
The salesperson can ask questions like:
- ‘So what is your role at the company?’
- ‘Who is usually involved in purchasing decisions?’
- ‘Which department handles purchasing?’
Using CRM, you can store the contact information of different members of the same company, and indicate their role. In this way, you can make sure to keep contacting the lead that has the authority to make a purchase.
The product or service would benefit the lead, solving a problem.
Leads that have higher needs for your product are more likely to close deals, and therefore should be prioritized.
To identify needs, you can ask:
- ‘What problems are you currently experiencing?’
- ‘What kind of solution are you looking for?’
- ‘Why have you waited until now to try to solve this problem?’
At what point the lead plans on buying (they are not just browsing).
The salesperson needs to know that their conversation is relevant to a deal that could be closed in the very near future. Companies that are considering products for use in a few months or even a year away do not qualify, but should be noted as potential future leads. If a prospect says this will be interesting to them in the future, you can use a CRM system to create a task to remind yourself to contact them at a later date.
To check, ask qualifying questions such as:
- ‘How soon do you need a solution to your problem?’
- ‘Are you ready to solve your problem now?’
- ‘Is solving this problem a priority for you right now?’
Today’s prospects are mostly very well informed and have usually researched and found a way in which they can solve a problem before they speak to sales representatives, and these conversations count as just part of the decision-making process.
In addition to BANT, a successful salesperson helps the lead realize how their product or service can help the lead reach their goals. This is a way in which you can show prospects how your product, above others, can add value to their company.
Ask questions along the lines of:
- ‘What are your main goals for your company?’
- ‘What do you want to achieve by the end of the year?’
- ‘How do you want to make this year more successful than last year?’
By asking such questions, you can help leads identify their priorities, and guide them towards your product. If the salesperson shows interest in the lead’s business by talking through their plans, challenges, and obstacles, and the lead responds positively to the solutions offered, this lead can qualify.
The most effective way to track the qualification process is updating your CRM sales pipeline. When a lead is in the Contacted stage, create a task to have a qualifying conversation with them. Once they qualify, move them up to the Qualified stage.