Qualifying Your Lead With BANT
Friends don’t let friends qualify deals alone. Use the Buddy System and BANT for deal qualification.
You’ve heard these things plenty of times –
Get another set of eyes to review your presentation before you send it
Have a teammate review your paper to make sure there are no errors
Have somebody look over your shoulder while you try that new thing
For some reason, when it comes to qualifying sales opportunities, people generally go at it alone. It’s really a bad idea, because more than likely you are immersed in the deal and you may very well have some blind spots that you need help seeing. So if your ego can take it, get someone else to help you qualify your deals and it will be the best decision you can make in your sales career.
Most people I know follow BANT as a short list of criteria to help qualify deals. Notice I said help because qualification isn’t really about just a checklist, it’s an ongoing process to help you determine whether a deal is good or not and how confident you should be in closing that deal. In you are aren’t familiar with this qualification criteria, here’s a quick overview:
- Budget: What budget is the prospect working with?
- Authority: What decision-making authority does my prospect have to sign off on this purchase?
- Need: What are the prospect’s pain points or challenges and how do my offerings solve for this?
- Timeline: When is the prospect planning to buy? Is this a priority for them right now?
Once you have a basic qualified opportunity, meaning you have gone through BANT and are confident that the prospect really needs something that you can offer, they can afford to make the purchase, and you know when they want to make the purchase and who, by name, needs to sign-off on the purchase, then your really work begins to further qualify the deal.
Here are mantras I’ve followed in the past to make sure my mind stays focused on closing the deal in front of me and not too focused on what I’ll be doing after I close the deal.
Don’t confuse calls with contracts
If you are a decent person, and I’m sure you are, people probably like talking to you, will answer your calls, and return your emails. So don’t take those things to mean that your prospect is going to buy from you. My experience tells me that in sales situations, most people are not truthful. It doesn’t mean they lie, it just means they may not give you the full truth.
Just because you don’t hear a no doesn’t mean you will eventually hear a yes. So it’s important to stay objective and avoid getting emotional about any conversation. And please, whatever you do, don’t assume that you have won the deal until you get a signed contract or a purchase order.
This is a case where you may be too close to the deal to see things clearly. Find a buddy! Have a co-worker, your boss, or someone in your network review the opportunity with you. You don’t need to review things in great detail, but just give them a high level understanding of your dealings with the prospect and the time spent on the deal and most likely they can tell you quickly if you might be wasting your time.
Have Multiple Points of Contact
Make sure you have multiple points of contact in the organization you are prospecting. First of all, let’s say you only have one contact, and that person leaves. There is a good chance that all of the work you’ve done building a relationship with that person is for nothing and you may have to start over with someone else (make sure to find out the new company of your contact though). Secondly, let’s say your one and only contact doesn’t like to deliver bad news, but really enjoys talking to you. You may end of wasting a lot of time just because they don’t want to tell you no or that they are choosing another vendor.
Find a buddy! You want to find “buddies” in different areas of the company to make sure that you can verify information but also have a backup plan in case something happens to your primary contact. This is going to help you further qualify your deal. You’re not looking to dismiss the authority or decision making of your contact, but you are looking to cover your bases appropriately.
Don’t count your commissions before the check is cut
Qualification doesn’t end until the deal is closed, and the deal really isn’t fully closed for most people until the contract is signed, the work is done, and the check from the client has cleared.
This is really important to understand.
While your job may be to close the deal and it’s someone else’s job to execute the work, most sales commissions are not paid until the client pays. If the client isn’t happy, the client might not pay. In the case of a freelance consultant, you are probably selling the deal, executing the work, and providing the customer service. Unless you are fortunate enough to have all of your clients pay 100% up front for your products or services with no further expectations, it’s important to understand that your work is not done until the client is satisfied.
Find a buddy! You need to have really good relationships with the other internal stakeholders in your organization who have some responsibility for this client and the work that gets done. You want communication to flow freely from them so that you are informed if anything is going poorly, and you need to step in and make sure the client is taken care of.
In summary, don’t try to do everything on your own. Use the buddy system to help you navigate qualifying your deals. All sales people want to win, but getting a little help to get the win is never a bad thing.