Today's post is by Anthony Iannarino, author, speaker, and award-winning blogger.
Lead qualification used to center around BANT (budget, authority, need, and time). This was easy for salespeople and sales managers to understand. Did the client have the budget? Were you dealing with someone who had the authority to bind your organization to a deal? Did the prospect need what you were selling? Was there a deadline by which the prospect would need to make a purchase?
Selling has changed dramatically since BANT, and lead qualification needs to change in an equally dramatic fashion.
The following two statements are very different: Your clients do not have the budget for what you’re selling. They don’t have a budget, but they do have the money. Unless you can tie what you sell to one of your prospect’s major initiatives, you’re going to have a tough time getting your prospect to part with any money. Even if prospects may not have a budget, they may still be qualified.
Let’s deal with the authority issue: more decisions are now made by consensus. There is no longer a power sponsor; there are power sponsors. There is no longer an economic buyer; there are economic buyers. There is no longer an authority; the person with the ability to bind your client organization to a deal will likely look to his or her team to advise as to whether or not to proceed. The question now isn’t whether someone has authority, it’s whether or not a person can build consensus.
The most pernicious problem today for sales reps is that their prospective clients don’t believe there’s a need. These prospects have latent dissatisfaction. They have problems, challenges, and opportunities that they have not yet recognized, and they won’t likely recognize those needs without the help of a salesperson with the business acumen and situational knowledge to help them understand that better results are available to them. If you disqualify every lead for not being able to state a need, you’re going to have a very empty pipeline. The question isn’t whether or not your prospects have a need they can express, but whether or not you have the ability to help them recognize a new need that’s worth a war with the status quo.
As for the issue of time, if your prospective clients don’t have a stated need, they don’t have the time constraint. This is also a challenge for salespeople as they qualify leads. Can you build a case for something differentiated and compelling enough to help them commit to a time? For clients, the more compelling the opportunity, the more money that’s being left on the table by not acting, the more opportunities they miss, the greater your ability to lock in a date. You need the ability to be compelling.
So what does this mean for lead qualification? If not BANT, what then?
Does your prospective client have a challenge around which you can create massive value? If so, then he or she will find the budget.
Do you have a sponsor who will introduce you to all the other sponsors and help you build consensus within the organization? You’re not looking for authority; you’re looking for someone with deep influence in the organization. You’re looking for someone who will help you with access.
Finally, consider engagement. Don’t mistake engagement for receptivity – receptivity alone is not enough. Look for a group of stakeholders who feel so strongly about improving results that they will help you build the case for change – a group that will go to war with the status quo.