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Sales 101 – Qualifying

In the 1960s IBM changed sales with the introduction of the BANT qualifying model.

This stands for Budget, Authority, Needs and Timeline; however, there is a good argument that this is not enough today because prospects are more informed because of the Internet.

According to the Gartner, buyers are 57% of the way towards buying when they make contact with a salesperson. If this is the case then BANT is too basic, we need to go further in our qualifying and look to add value.

Qualifying is a mini sale in itself. We need to sell the client on investing time with us and we need to sell ourselves on investing time and energy with them.

The new model for qualifying starts by asking the prospects about their goals so we understand their objective. Then we can ask about their:

  • Plans
  • Challenges
  • Timeline
  • Buying process
  • Key implications

One of the things I recommend is scoring prospects before you decide to allocate your sales resource. You can give points for:

  • How well the prospect matches your perfect customer
  • What level of email engagement there is
  • What research they have done.

The best way to score a prospect is to pick up the phone and speak with them. This is where your key qualifying questions come in, here are some of ours:

My goal and plan focused questions are:

  • What’s the long term goal of the business?
  • What the immediate priority?
  • What plans do you have in place?

Then I transition into challenges and timeline:

  • What are your key challenges?
  • How long have you had these challenges?
  • What have you tried to do about it?
  • Why don’t you think it worked?
  • What result do you want?
  • When do you want it?
  • Why do you think now the right time?

I will then ask questions around the buying process:

  • Is your plan written down and supported with a budget and targets?
  • Ignore accounting fees for the moment, what’s your overall budget to get the results you want?
  • How do you make decisions?
  • Who else is involved in deciding which accountant to go with?
  • What other options are you looking at?
  • What’s the biggest barrier you need to overcome to go ahead?

I will complete the qualifying by asking about the implications:

  • What happens if you don’t hit your goals?
  • How would this impact you?
  • What would it mean for the business and you if you do hit your targets?

I also finish qualifying with a positive outcome because I want the prospect thinking about success because I need to book a follow up meeting with me.

Even though I have listed the questions down, I don’t fire questions at the prospect and interrogate them, it’s more of a conversation.

Selling properly is expensive. You need to invest the necessary time and energy and good qualifying gives you the confidence to justify the investment.

Image from Flickr by Robert Brook.

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