Successfully Qualify Your Leads With These Vital Questions

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Proper lead qualification can set you up on a smooth track to a sale. Many reps don’t put much thought into qualifying leads, which can end up wasting time and money. They don’t 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 doesn’t 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.”

So, what’s the alternative? 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:

  1. Problem: Has the prospect acknowledged an Issue that you have the power to address/solve?
  2. Motivation: Does the prospect have a compelling business case and a clear reason to act?
  3. Organization: How closely does the prospect’s company fit your ideal customer profile?
  4. Contact: Is our current contact a credible potential change agent or can they help us to reach one?
  5. Money: Does the prospect have an allocated budget? If not, is there a clear source of adequate funding?
  6. Urgency: Is there a compelling event or reason for the prospect to act within a reasonable timeframe?

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.”

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel and Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.