Lead Qualification 2.0: How to Improve Your Qualification Process
When you hear the phrase “lead qualification,” what comes to mind? Most B2B sales managers probably picture IBM’s BANT qualification model: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. This method has been used by businesses for many years, but as great as these qualifying factors are, it’s clear that they are basic.
More than that, they often lead to disqualification of leads that are actually an excellent fit. After all, if your sales reps can make the case effectively, timelines can be accelerated and budgetary restrictions can be reassessed. Even authority isn’t a deal breaker if your reps can go up the chain of command and grow the buying team.
There are alternatives to BANT.
Sales is not as simple as it once was, and with so many technologies available to enhance your sales process, why would you stick with surface-level qualification?
Big data has paved the way for qualification 2.0: factors that go far beyond budget or timeline. So let’s dive into the lead qualification factors that are transforming how sales teams approach opportunities. We like to separate these factors into three main categories:
1. Company Profile
Your buyer’s company profile will encompass a great many factors, such as industry, company size, geographic location, overall company health, etc. Do you find yourself selling to the pharmaceutical industry more than the manufacturing industry? Do medium-sized businesses tend to close more often than small businesses? If you don’t know the answer to those questions, you’re likely not taking advantage of much of the data that’s sitting in your CRM.
2. Opportunity Profile
This category is where many of the traditional BANT qualifications come into play. How do you know if this is a good opportunity for a sale? You look at a variety of factors including the buyer’s pain points, the timeline, the size of the project, the budget, strategic ranking, the desired characteristics of their ideal solution, how important a solution is to the buyer, and more. Rather than looking at each factor in a vacuum, you’re creating a full picture of the opportunity and then basing your decision on that.
3. Relationship Profile
Despite the advances in sales automation, complex B2B deals still require a relationship between buyer and seller. Here is where lead qualification really goes to the next level. Your lead’s relationship profile encompasses the sentiment of each member of the buying team, which stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in, how engaged each buyer is, whether there seems to be consensus about moving forward, how quickly the deal is progressing, and even specific “buying signals” such as bringing in new members of the buying team.
Now the key challenge with a lead qualification model like this is that sales situations are not stagnant. Quite the opposite: an opportunity can change drastically within a single day. Fortunately, businesses can use a sales analytics engine such as Accent Accelerate to keep their data accurate, up to date, and useful every day.
The platform uses real-time opportunity scoring to rank each lead based on the qualification factors listed above. If a buyer requests an onsite visit or a complete proposal, those buying signals will cause a change in the opportunity ranking. Sales reps can then use these scores to help prioritize which opportunities are most worth pursuing.
SEE ALSO: Prioritizing for Success: 4 Key Points
Customizable Factors are Key.
B2B sales is not a “one size fits all” industry, and the qualification factors that make perfect sense for one company may result in less than ideal buyers for another company. Your qualification factors should be unique to your business needs.
But here’s the big question: how do you know which factors make sense for your business? Sales analytics to the rescue again! The analytics engine surfaces trends among won/lost deals so you can see what’s actually important in an ideal buyer as well as keep your qualification factors up to date and accurate over time.
This technology may seem like a dream, but it’s actually possible now. New advancements in sales enablement have made it possible to centralize all of these features and more into a single platform for sales reps, marketers, and management. This “one stop shop” approach to selling saves a significant amount of time and centralizes all of your sales data so that it’s easy to track and learn from it.