When you’re a B2B sales rep, few things feel worse than spending weeks or months on a high-priority prospect only to find out that your biggest competitor won the business. If this happens to you frequently then you’re probably feeling stressed out and unmotivated. Fortunately, you can turn things around with a simple secret: if you master the art of qualifying your leads, you can achieve greater sales with less time and effort. Initially you’ll have to fight against some instinctive habits, but with practice you’ll become a lead-qualifying pro. Keep reading to find out how to hone this crucial skill.
Maintain Control of Yourself and the Conversation
During your first contact with a lead, you may be eager to begin your sales pitch. It’s exciting to share your brand’s message with someone new, but it’s more important to listen than to talk right now. If you immediately launch into a speech about features and benefits, you’ll hand control of the conversation to your prospect. You’ll also lose a valuable opportunity to determine if this lead can become a loyal, profitable customer.
IBM developed – and still uses – the BANT approach for qualifying leads:
- Budget: Can the customer afford your product or service?
- Authority: Is the person you’re talking to authorized to purchase your product or service?
- Need: Do the customer’s needs match the benefits provided by your product or service?
- Timeline: How far into the future is the customer planning to make a purchase?
The BANT framework is very effective. Use it to your advantage by asking tactful questions such as, “What’s your budget for this project?” or “Who’s on your purchasing committee?” By keeping your customer talking, you can figure out what he’s really looking for.
Rank Your Lead
Once you you’ve gathered enough information, score your lead from 1-10 on each of the BANT categories, with a score of 10 equaling a perfect match. Combine all four categories to generate a total score out of 40. This score allows you to rank this lead against your other prospects. The prospects that deserve the majority of your time are the ones who can afford your product or service, who have the authority to make a buying decision, whose needs match the benefits you offer, and who are planning to make a purchase within your normal sales cycle. You can’t afford to pursue every prospect with equal intensity. Ranking your leads ensures that you’re distributing your time appropriately.
Welcome to Your New Reality
Qualifying leads keeps you from wasting your time on dead-end prospects. Sales success isn’t about looking busy, it’s about growing business. If you can grow your business twice as much as the next rep in half the time, then you’re way ahead of the game. Qualify every lead that comes your way. Your wallet – and your sanity – will thank you for it.