The entire sales world focuses on the importance of developing the art of closing deals. Equally important is how you open them up as well.
Chasing leads which have the budget, authority and need for the solution your product or service is offering is the golden recipe for getting new accounts.
To ensure you get the right start, lead qualification is a must. This article will teach you everything you need to know about lead qualification and the different frameworks you can use to qualify a lead.
What is lead qualification?
Lead qualification is the process in which sales and marketing teams identify if the lead or the prospect is a good fit for your product or service. This process also helps in determining how likely it is for a prospect to make a purchase.
It takes place during every stage of the sales cycle to ensure the right fit prospects are funneled through your pipeline.
The leads that enter your system are qualified using different ways to ensure that they stick with your company as long time customers. The following steps occur in qualifying the leads:
- Lead qualification starts when a lead enters the funnel. At this stage, the marketing and sales teams need to capture all the data that is attributed to the lead such as their email ID, site visits, etc..
- Using all the attributes collected, the teams then need to identify if the lead fits the ICP that is established for your product or service.
- Once it is established that the lead fits your ICP, then the lead is funneled through to the sales teams where the sales rep interacts with the prospect on a discovery call.
- This call is used to identify the needs, timelines, decision makers involved in the deal, and budget restraints.
- Information obtained from the discovery call will help determine if it is viable to invest more time into the prospect to convert them into a customer or if it is better to pursue other leads.
What are the different types of qualifying leads?
One encounters different types of leads in a sales organization. Not all leads end up being converted into customers. Different companies qualify (and even define) leads differently, based on the type of product they’re selling, sign-up mechanism, marketing/prospecting activities they indulge in, etc. The various types of qualified leads are:
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): These are the inbound leads that are qualified to be engaged with marketing communications such as nurture emails, newsletters, and other content offers.
- Sales qualified leads (SQLs): These are leads that sales reps interact with using a discovery call to identify their needs, address pain points and more to start the sales process.
- Product qualified leads (PQLs): These are leads that have voiced their strong interest in the product after signing up for a free trial/freemium account
With these many different types of leads, it becomes evident that they have to be asked different lead qualifying questions to ensure that they are a good fit for your product.
One way to do so is by using a lead qualification framework and by asking the right qualifying questions.
Let us take a look at the different types of lead qualifying frameworks and questions.
Lead Qualifying Frameworks
These are the frameworks that salespeople use to determine the quality of the lead and validate if the prospects will convert to long-time customers. These frameworks are typically created based on the commonalities distilled from closed-won opportunities.
To decide which framework one needs to reference when qualifying leads depends on multiple factors such as the industry, the size of the deal, personal conversation style and many more.
Let us look at the different types of frameworks that you can choose from!
This framework is dubbed as the “Old Faithful” by Hubspot. First introduced by IBM, BANT has been around for a few decades and is widely used by a plethora of companies and markets to qualify leads.
What is BANT?
Just because this is the most widely used framework, doesn’t mean that it is the best. This was one of the very first frameworks to be established. This framework places budget as a primary qualifying criterion.
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing. Some of the questions one can ask when employing this framework are:
- Do you have a specific budget set aside for this? What is it?
- Is acquiring this solution a priority to assign funds for it?
- Is seasonality a factor in influencing your budgetary constraints?
- Who are the decision makers involved in this deal?
- Do you have prior experience in acquiring a similar solution like ours?
- Do you anticipate any objections to finalizing this purchase? How do you think we can handle them?
- What are the pain points you hope to address with this solution?
- How are you prepared to handle the challenges you are encountering?
- What efforts were made to address these pain points in the past?
- How quickly do you plan to implement the product?
- When do you expect to start using the product?
- Could you provide the deadline you have in mind to solve this problem?
If a prospect presents positive responses to at least three of the criterias, then the sales team can consider the prospect qualified.
Many salespeople say this framework is old fashioned as it does not put the customers first. Asking questions about a prospect’s budget first or disqualifying leads simply based on the fact that they do not have enough budget set aside to buy the product or service might be off-putting to some.
This might feel like you’re telling your prospects that they are not the “type” to shop at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Why? Simply because they turned up wearing their favorite pair of tattered jeans and a sweatshirt.
CHAMP was formulated to counteract the deficiencies of BANT so that more appropriate questions can be answered for both the buyer and qualifier. This is a framework that puts customers first as opposed to BANT.
What is CHAMP?
CHAMP stands for Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization. When using this framework, one can ask these questions to qualify a lead:
- What are the biggest challenges you are facing right now?
- Even though you are employing a solution at the moment, what specific challenges does it not solve effectively?
- How many decision makers do you expect to be involved in this purchase?
- When do you anticipate including them in our conversations?
- What are the hierarchical relationships that would influence the decision?
- What is the budget you anticipate to allocate for the purchase of this solution?
- How quickly will the funds for this solution be released?
- When do you estimate the solution to be implemented?
- Are you discussing other alternatives as possible solutions?
With CHAMP, the order of asking questions during the discovery call follows a slightly more natural order. CHAMP is similar to ANUM (which we’ve covered next), in the sense that it puts the customer first. In comparison, even though you are not starting off the conversation with a decision maker as per ANUM, this doesn’t mean the lead needs to be disqualified.
Instead, CHAMP can be used when you just begin to explore qualification frameworks and can be kept in the back of your mind during the discovery call with the prospect.
While CHAMP feels similar in comparison to ANUM, it is however used to replace BANT more often than not.
ANUM places authority at the forefront. Here, you spend time developing a relationship rather than focusing on getting your prospects to open their wallets.
ANUM stands for Authority, Need, Urgency and Money. When sales reps use ANUM for lead qualification, they need to first ascertain that they are speaking to a decision maker. Here, Need functions the same as in BANT but is placed much ahead, Urgency correlates to Timing, and Money replaces Budget.
If you are looking for a framework that is least like BANT, then MEDDIC is your best bet. Introduced in the 1990s, this framework works in prioritizing customer qualification which is basically assessing if efforts need to be invested in getting a customer through the sales funnel.
What is MEDDIC?
MEDDIC is an acronym that stands for Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain and Champion. Let us take a look at what the expansions for this acronym stands for along with the questions you can ask.
Metrics: This helps sales reps to quantify what the customer aims to gain by implementing the solution you are offering. The main question asked here is: “What do you anticipate the impact of this solution to be?”
Once you identify the metrics your customer cares about, the sales reps can justify how their solution will be a good RoI.
Economic Buyer: As in BANT, CHAMP, ANUM and more this is indicative of who is in charge of making a decision regarding the purchase of the solution you are offering.
Decision Criteria: this step focuses on understanding what criteria companies use to make decisions. Some of the common criterias that companies use are budget restrictions, simplicity of solution implementation, ease of integration with their systems, potential RoI and more.
Decision Process: While decision criteria just provides the criteria under which companies make a decision, their process to arrive at that decision might vary. The process however, does have a few commonalities that sales reps can leverage, like who is the person making the decision, the timeline that they have in mind, and any approval processes in place. With these clues sales reps can work to fulfill those conditions.
Identify pain: This point is similar to BANT, where identifying the needs of a lead is important. Only when you know the pain points of your customer can you position your product or service to solve them.
Champion: This requires you to identify a champion in the company. In other words, you need to find an advocate for yourself and the product. This advocate is most likely to be the one who is in need of this solution. They can in turn help in influencing the decision maker to rule in your favour.
This framework acts more like a checklist for sales reps and ensures that they collect all the information they need to make the sale. Moreover, MEDDIC framework actually helps to understand customers and their needs. In this framework one actually spends time to build a relationship with the customer.
This is the longest string of acronyms in the world of sales. It is definitely a mouthful! GPCTBA/C&I framework was developed by Hubspot. They created this to counter the changes in behavior exhibited by buyers.
What is GPCTBA/C&I?
GPCTBA/C&I (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority/Negative Consequences and Positive Implications). This framework says that sales reps need to look at the bigger picture and not just address how your solution will solve the problems of a prospect.
With the internet bringing information to the prospects easily, it is more than necessary to understand the nitty-gritty of what the customer needs, wants and solve for the same. This framework also puts importance on what the pluses and minuses would be if this lead is qualified.
Let us take a look at it in more detail.
Goals: The purpose of this is to identify what the quantitative goals of your prospects are. Some of the questions that you can ask are:
- What is the top priority for the financial year?
- Have you documented what the goals of the company are for this quarter/year?
Plans: Once goals have been assessed, then it is time to understand if your prospect has any plans in place to achieve their set goals. You can understand this by asking:
- What are your plans to achieve your goals?
- How did you go about achieving this goal last year/quarter? What are you going to be doing differently this year/quarter to achieve your goals?
Challenges: This is when you assess what challenges your prospects want to address with your product or solution.
- What are the challenges you expect to encounter with your plan?
- If your plan does not eliminate your challenge, what is your contingency plan that will allow you to shift gears to readdress these challenges.
Timeline: This allows you to understand what are timelines to implement your solution. If the prospect aims to buy it now and use it later then they should be moved down the line.
- When will you begin to implement this solution?
- Do you have sufficient bandwidth and personnel to work on incorporating this solution?
Budget: With this, sales reps can ensure that the lead understands why they need to spend X amount on their solution to solve the problem. While you cannot expect to get an answer to the question “What is your budget?”, there are some questions you can ask to assess that:
- Have you completely understood the potential RoI you will gain with the implementation of this solution?
- Are you looking into alternative solutions to address this problem we have discussed?
Authority: Unlike in BANT, this does not necessarily qualify to determine who is the decision maker. Here you might be discussing first with a champion(advocate) who can vouch for you in their company.
- Do you think the goals we have discussed will fit the needs of the economic buyer?
- What are the priorities that they are looking at?
- What concerns do you think they are looking to solve for?
Negative Consequences and Positive Implications: This is to understand what happens if your prospective buyer does or does not achieve their goals.
- Does it have an impact on a personal level, whether you achieve the goal or not?
- What is the next step after addressing this challenge?
This framework allows sales reps to gather a large amount of information with which they can create a clear sales pitch and plan to get the customer to close the deal.
This blog presents multiple frameworks to choose from. All that is left is to identify the right lead qualification framework that will work for you.
While doing lead qualification manually is a possibility, it would require a lot of time and personnel to achieve it. A faster way to automate your lead qualification process would be to use a sales intelligence tool.
When assessing the prospect using a lead qualification framework during your discovery call, it is a good idea to tune your CRM so that you can capture their responses in an automated manner.
Always remember that getting the lead qualification process right will reduce times wasted, create high win rates, and produce an increase in your overall sales.