Proper lead qualification can set you up on a smooth track to a sale. Many reps do not put much thought into needs assessment questions for sales, which can end up wasting time and money. They do not realize that a little extra effort at the beginning of the sales process can pay off big. “One of the key factors that separates top performing sales people from the rest is that they have too much respect for their own time to waste it pursuing opportunities they are never likely to win,” writes Bob Apollo in an article for CustomerThink.
He explains that for a long time in the industry, the BANT ((Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe) was the tried-and-true way to qualify a lead. But, that process just does not apply to today’s sales world. “[BANT] is particularly ineffective when qualifying early-stage opportunities where the customer may have a significant latent need but is not yet actively in the market,” he writes. “The prospective customer doesn’t yet have a budget. The person initiating the search may not be the ultimate decision maker. They may not yet be able to articulate a clear need. And they are unlikely to have a firm timeframe.”
Progressive Qualification Using Needs Assessment Questions for Sales
So, what is the alternative to the outdated BANT methodology? Apollo outlines a process that he believes is more applicable to today’s B2B buyer: Progressive qualification. This strategy recognizes that qualifying a lead is a process that takes time and, over that time, a buyer’s needs and expectations may change. His suggested process involves two stages: Initial Qualification and Subsequent Qualification. Below are the six criteria that make up that first stage and needs assessment questions for sales you should be asking yourself:
- Problem: Has the prospect acknowledged an issue that you have the power to address or solve for them using your company's products or services?
- Motivation: Does the prospective client have a compelling business case and a clear reason to act? If your prospect is lacking motivation, why would they want to make a purchase right now?
- Organization: How closely does the prospect’s company fit your ideal customer profile?
- Contact: Is our current contact a credible potential change agent or can they help us to reach one?
- Money: Does the prospect have an allocated budget? If they do not, is there a clear source of adequate funding? If money is still an issue, is it within your power to offer a payment plan that could work with their current budget allocation?
- Urgency: Is there a compelling event or reason for the prospect to act within a reasonable frame of time? A sense of urgency can turn a maybe to a yes.
Begin the qualification process by asking yourself these questions. Then, if the lead meets the criteria, continue on to the second phase of Apollo’s process. And, he reminds reps that there’s more to the process than just following the steps: “…implementing a checklist isn’t enough – unless we also demonstrate self-awareness and self-honesty in our assessment of our opportunities.”