World Class Lead Qualification

One of the biggest challenges of Lead Generation is the never ending quest for qualified sales leads in sufficient quantity.  Both are possible by embracing World Class Lead Qualification.

Sales and marketing leaders embrace lead qualification to prevent wasting the sales field’s time with garbage leads.  There is a balance involved because you need to be careful not to qualify so strongly at the Lead Generation level that you strangle the pipeline.  The answer is embracing BANT qualification criteria for Lead Generation programs.

This article is a common sense approach to establishing sound qualification criteria for your LeadGen team.  If you are already qualifying, then this article serves as a check-point to evaluate your qualification approach. 

What is BANT Qualification?

Qualifying using the BANT methodology is a natural part of the engagement process.  The insights flows from the value-adding conversation conducted with the prospect.  Don’t consider BANT a checklist or a “one-time” activity – BANT is a process of discovering qualification about the prospect through conversation.

BANT Criteria
Budget (B)
The prospect tells us there is or could be a budget created for a project OR the prospect has made an enterprise software purchase sometime in the last 12 months
Authority (A)
There is at least one Contact that is interested in solving its [Problem] who is Director Level or above.  Also, we must have the contact info of the Decision Maker and either Acme Software or our Contact has spoken to the Decision Maker about a potential project.
Need (N)
We have identified a specific problem and pain point. 
Timing (T)
The prospect provides us with an understanding of a potential decision timeline, understanding of an event, or expected time of when they want a solution in place.

Required for Qualification:  Establish Need+1 other

Incorporating Guidelines into a Natural Delivery
The following are questions to provide guidelines on the types of questions that help the Lead Development Representative (LDR) arrive at a successful and accurate view of BANT with the contact.   The LDR should work to incorporate these questions into their natural delivery and not read this as a script.  Incorporating these points is accomplished through repetitive attempts, coaching, and by monitoring the success achieved uncovering qualification points. 

Don’t Rush, Focus on the Dialogue
It’s important not to rush into BANT questions.  As a rule of thumb, the LDR should not actively ask these questions until they are engaged in the dialogue with the prospect and have offered to provide value-added resources and answers to their questions.  Through the discussion of how to aid the prospect’s needs, key BANT discoveries can be uncovered through good listening. 

Once the dialogue has started with the prospect, the LDR can begin to ask BANT questions, but with a focus on the prospect’s needs and preferences.  For example, rather than asking “When are you planning to purchase?” instead ask “What timeframe do you want to have a solution in place for your team?” which will launch additional questions that will help answer the question.  Plus the prospect will get the sense you are focused on their needs rather than your own agenda.

Everyone has reached a point with a sales person where qualifying questions are asked too early in the process and this can be a real turn-off.  The mindset of the prospect is typically negative and they start to shut down dialogue when phrases such as “Mr. Smith, do you have authority to make a purchase?” enters the equation. 

There is a better way, and this guide offers tips and suggestions to be successful.  
Suggested Dialogue
The opportunity to get answers to the BANT questions can arise from subtle opportunities in the course of correspondence or dialog with the prospect.  The following are examples of ways to shape the conversation after a prospect makes a statement that leaves the door open to a qualifying opportunity and to arrive at answers while continuing to build trust through a two-way dialogue when qualifying:

BUDGET – The prospect tells us there is or could be a budget created for a project OR the prospect has made a major enterprise software purchase sometime in the last 24 months?

Prospect Statement
Possible Question the LDR can Ask
Selecting a solution for something like this is a pretty big undertaking.

It is certainly a complex process.  Have you been involved in enterprise software purchases of similar size?
·         Follow-on questions:
o   What was the approximate size of that acquisition?
o   How did you go about determining the budget?
o   What did the decision making process look like?

I think that cost is probably going to be a significant factor.
Yes, you’re right.  Cost can definitely be a factor here.  There are different pricing models.  X and Y are primary factors in determining costs.

How can I help you with your decision making process?  Do you have what you need from a budgeting perspective to start your evaluation of solutions, or do you need assistance with determining a budget?
I’m going to have to run a few of the technical (or other specific) aspects of the product by a few other people here.
There can be a lot of forces at play in making a solution-based decision.  What departments are involved in this decision (Authority)?  What’s your process for evaluating software purchases of this size?
Right now a big challenge for me is making the business case.
Have you established a budget for a solution and can my team help you with cost justification?
I won’t hold you to it, what is the ballpark cost for a company like ours?


What do you need to know to give me a price?
It depends on a number of factors; A, B, and C.  Typically most projects I have seen are between $Xk to $Yk.  The sales team will work with you on the specific price based on your environment and needs.   Would you like my team help you with your budgeting?

We do not have a set aside budget for this year --- I don’t have anything this year.
Is there a secondary need that we need to keep in mind that will help you unlock budget? --- for example, our product is also used extensively for A, B and C. 
IT Contact: I don’t have budget for this expense.
Most our clients fund this kind of software through their corporate X department. Have you discussed availability of budget with that department.

AUTHORITY – There is at least one Contact that is interested in solving its [Problem] who is Director Level or above.  Also, we must have the contact info of the Decision Maker and either Acme Software or our Contact has spoken to the Decision Maker about a potential project.
Prospect Statement
Possible Question
We’ll probably want to take a look at [X].
(X = Features, ROI, Integration with our systems, IT approval, business case, etc.)
Are there a number of people on your team looking at X?  
How do approvals for software decisions like this work within your company?
When we are looking to make the final decision, [X] is probably going to be a significant factor.
Is that final decision your responsibility, or is there someone else that you look to for approval of your decision?
At this point we are looking to gather some preliminary information.
We can certainly help with getting you the information that really applies to your specific situation.  Are there multiple departments with different points of view that I should keep in mind when getting you more information? 

Can you send me more information?


We are evaluating solutions, can you send me information?
Are you preparing an RFP that you want us to help with? 

What role does your department play vs. the role IT plays in the decision? 

Are you looking for information on how to reduce cost or increase efficiency? 

[Decision Maker] asked me to evaluate solutions.
Has [Decision Maker] asked specific questions that we can help you with?
The person who would be making the decisions on this is probably [Decision Maker].
In your interactions with [Decision Maker], have you found that [NEED] is top of mind for them?
No doubt about it, we could use your product. 
Have you had a chance to gauge how [Decision Maker] feels about some of the potential value we have identified? 
I’m planning on taking this information to [Decision Maker] soon.  I’ve just got to get a grasp on a few more things.
What can we provide that would help you in a conversation. 
Is there anything missing?   Do you think you have everything you need?

Before you finalize your research, do you want to meet with the local expert to dive into this a little deeper?

NEED – We have identified a specific problem and pain point. 
Prospect Statement
Possible Question
We have a lot of issues around [Problems] right now. 
Those do sound like some pretty compelling issues.   Our product can really help you improve cost and efficiencies in addressing [Business Need].  Do you agree?
We are experiencing [Pain].
What is the root cause of the problem are you trying to solve for?

Is this a unique one-time event, or is this a regular occurrence?

We are looking for feature [X]
[Note: the problem is broader]  Yes, we have one of the best offerings for X.  Typically our customers use our product for more than just X --- what do you do today for Y and Z? 
I’m just looking around and trying to find a solution that is best for us.
What was it that compelled you to look into our product?

Is there an event, or a case or matter that is driving the need to look at a solution now?
There wasn’t a specific compelling event, but there’s definitely a need.
If you had to pick the one reason that’s standing out to you right now, what is that reason for pursuing a solution?

TIMING – The prospect provides us with an understanding of a potential decision timeline, understanding of an event, or expected time of when they want a solution in place.

Prospect Statement
Possible Question
The way we are doing it right now is not working.
What’s not working for you today? 

[If we already have need] It sounds like the problem is pretty time-sensitive for you to solve.

In what timeframe would you like to have a solution implemented for your team? [Note: Be prepared, the prospect will ask for average implementation lead time to answer this question.]
I’m getting pushed to get this information as soon as possible.
In what timeframe are you looking to make a decision?
I’d like to discuss implementation.
Absolutely.  Was there timing you had in mind to start implementation?
How long does it typically take to get something like this in place?
You can be up and running in X weeks.  Typically our customers require some level of implementation and training.  Our average implementation timeline is 2-4 weeks.  Is there a timeline you are shooting for to have this up and running? 
I would like to discuss implementation – how do I train my team?
We have a complete training program ranging from on-demand self-training to classroom training to custom onsite training.  How quickly do you need to be up and running?