Is this Netflix show worth the time commitment? Should I order takeout from the new restaurant across the street or cook dinner at home? Do I schedule a third date with the person I’m talking to or break it off?
Every day, we weigh information to help us decide whether an opportunity is worth pursuing or not. This is called qualifying behavior, and it’s something a sales team has to do (and do well) every day. But instead of making a decision around a show, dinner or one’s love life, salespeople have to determine whether or not a potential prospect is a good fit for their company’s products or services.
Lead qualification is a critical part of the sales process. It prevents your sales team from wasting time on prospects who are unlikely to convert so they know where to prioritize their efforts. But its significance is what also makes it one of the most difficult parts of the job. Lead qualification software has surely helped, though there are still a number of questions your team should be asking during calls to help them qualify leads. Sales executives should consider structuring their team’s information-gathering process in a way that complements their sales cycles. Lead qualification frameworks can be a great way to do this.
BANT, which was created by IBM in the ’50s, is a widely-used, efficient and easy-to-use sales qualification framework that was developed to help salespeople determine the worthwhileness of a prospect based on four criteria:
• Budget: Can the prospect’s budget cover the cost of your product or service?
• Authority: Does the person you’re talking to have the authority to make a purchase? If not, who else would you need to speak with?
• Need: Is your product or service a solution to a pain point the prospect is experiencing?
• Timeline: What is the prospect’s timeline for making a purchase?
Most sales teams consider a lead to be qualified if a prospect satisfies at least three out of the four BANT criteria, but the final call varies from organization to organization.
Let’s dive deeper into these four components and how they can influence the success of your sales team.
Budget: Can They Afford You?
Discussing a prospect’s budget is essential. If they can’t afford your products or services, it would be futile to continue through with the sales process. Investing time in nurturing a prospect that cannot financially afford to work with your company is time wasted.
Here are some questions your salespeople can ask during a sales meeting:
How much is your pain point currently costing your business?
Is there an established budget range for the product or service we can provide?
What is your expected ROI?
Authority: Are They the Main Decision-Maker?
It’s not surprising that many purchasing decisions require the input of multiple stakeholders — some of whom are responsible for passing along the information, while others have the authority to make the final decision.
On the call, you should identify where the prospect falls in this and if you’d need to get others involved in the conversation. Even if a prospect doesn’t have the final say, they likely still have influence in the company, so don’t undervalue their input.
Need: Can Your Company Address Their Pain Points?
There are pain points within every organization, and it’s the job of your sales team to identify these during conversations with a potential lead. What are their biggest challenges? How can your products or services provide a solution to their needs?
If it’s clear that your company isn’t a solution to their challenges, consider the lead disqualified and move on. It’s always hard to have to pass up an opportunity, but it’s not much of an opportunity if the relationship doesn’t create any value. You’ll have more success working with people who actually need your products or services.
Timeline: When Are They Looking to Make a Purchase?
Prospects with a clear plan of action and an urgency to make a purchase soon should be your top priority. When your sales team focuses on these leads, they can accelerate the sales cycle and close a higher number of deals.
Some people call the BANT method old-fashioned, but there’s a reason why it’s still a tried-and-true practice today. If your sales team’s lead generation abilities are more efficient and straightforward, your company will be more profitable. The two go hand-in-hand.