Sales Success Depends On Good Qualification
Sales success depends on good qualification. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to determine whether you should continue to progress the opportunity to its natural next stage in your sales process.
Good sales qualification starts with conversation, good questions, fact finding, survey, discovery calls... regardless of what name you have for how you qualify your ideal customer - it's all about determining is this the right type of customer, can you help them, can you add value with your products/services, is there a good fit, will they be more pain than gain, or can you create another happy customer who will spend more with you in the future and recommend you to other businesses/consumers! Don't mess around, decide if the fit is there or not and get to a YES or NO as quickly as possible by having a qualification process.
Good sales qualification of your leads will improve your sales conversion and business profitability. Poor qualification will increase your cost to deliver, and bring in a variety of other risk factors for your business.
Keep in mind a qualified lead requires more of your attention than an unqualified lead - all leads should not be treated equally. 😂
Categorise and Qualify Your Leads
A lead qualification process is typically supported by lead generation activities from your marketing, sales, networking, product teams, website forms / chatbot submissions and many other methods. Leads can be qualified in a variety of ways and it helps bring some perspective to the type of leads a business has to work with and maybe what next steps they should take. Let me explain a bit further as it requires a little more clarification, starting with the types of leads you might experience within your business model.
These leads are not ready to be passed to your sales team/rep, and are in need of nurturing.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
These leads are primed for marketing related activities and communications such as email campaigns, content offers, and more.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
These leads have been identified as more 'sales-ready' and fit to be passed to your sales team / rep to be followed up as per your sales process.
Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)
This type of lead has triggered some sort of interest in your product. For example, they might have signed up for a free trial or a freemium subscription to your product/service. e.g. Think HubSpot. Super CRM product that's free for all and then for more features you pay - simple!
Conversion Qualified Leads (CQLs)
Website conversions tend to come into the category of CQLs, so any website form submission, chatbot /live chat dialogue, click to call, are what's known as Conversion Qualified Leads (CQLs).
By categorising and qualifying your leads you can then trigger different relevant and supporting activities and questions to find out whether your prospects are a good fit for your business and to make sure you will be able to deliver to their expectations and provide the solution / value expected. To support your sales qualification and conversion it's a good idea to have a range of qualification questions you would ask during your sales discovery, as this will help uncover your prospect's need, budget, authority and sense of urgency, or other factors you need to be aware of. It will also help you to continue to qualify further and push forward in your sales process towards sales proposition and conversion.
BANT is one of many sales frameworks and methodologies you can use when qualifying your prospects and sales opportunities further.
The more you can take the principles of a sales framework, humanise it a little and create natural discussion, the more effective it becomes.
You can’t beat a bit of BANT though to help qualify your sales opportunities.
As promoters of all things CRM, Marketing Automation and Sales Optimisation, we also recommend having a system to drive sales efficiency and effectiveness. Strategy + Process + System = Sales Success!
The most important consideration when using a sales framework - BANT or otherwise, is to develop key qualification and discovery questions. Many generic examples exist and of course more specific ones will be required for your specific business offering. Here are some examples:
Where does this fall on your list of business priorities? (This will help get a sense of timing on your prospect's requirements).
We all hate the dreaded budget question, What does your budget look like for this project? You can adapt this and come at it from different angles and ask What is the current problem / issue costing your business? or What benefits will this help bring your business? (here you are trying to establish the real need/cost/benefits for your products/services)... there are many ways of trying to obtain how much a customer is willing to spend and the benefits of spending it with you and if they have a real need, so be creative to adapt your questioning to uncover budgets/benefits/costs etc.
Another question could be, Do you think your team members will be up for this solution? or ask Do you have colleagues that would be part of the approval process for the solution? or Do you have criteria for this purchase decision? This will help establish who has authority to make the purchase and any criteria that you should be aware of.
You may have noticed that the questions above are adhering to BANT, as we are trying to find out more about your prospect's Budget, Authority, Need and Timing, as this will help qualify and move the sale forward.
Professional Tip: Build a list of your sales qualification and discovery questions around BANT and your ideal customer.
Don't Hesitate To Disqualify Prospects
Most businesses have an ideal customer (buyer persona) and target market (niche or otherwise) for their products and services. So why do we sometimes continue to push forward with the sales process when it's not a great fit for your business or the client? For instance, if you have a prospect that is nowhere near aligning with your buyer persona, the best thing to do is disqualify them immediately as it's not worth trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Another example is, you have engaged in a dialogue with a Senior Executive and they have the authority to purchase, but if there's no problem, then there's no need for a solution - disqualify them.
You could also find you are engaging with the wrong type of stakeholder, maybe they are more junior or have no authority, they don't know what the company's business goals are and that should raise a red flag that they are not close enough to the decision making process and lack influence - disqualify them, and try to reach out to a better contact as there might well still be an opportunity.
Many of us hate the thought of disqualifying prospects - remember the quality of your leads matter more than the quantity. Trying to close every deal that comes along is only going to result in dead ends with poor fit prospects, while you neglect prospects likely to buy.
Sales success rests on effective qualification. Your ability to find good fit prospects will make or break your business. Prospects who turn into happy customers mean not only revenue, but increased word-of-mouth, referrals, and the possibility of cross- or upselling. So it’s imperative that you get it right.
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