There is probably nothing more irritating to a salesperson than to spend ages researching a prospect and then hitting a dead end with an unqualified sales lead. Whether the reason is speaking to the wrong person, a lack of budget or the wrong business type for you, you’ve lost valuable time that you could have spent speaking to qualified prospects.
We know that qualifying leads is a critical process, but is there a way to make it simpler before investing all the time and energy into researching them? Pre-qualification is, of course, crucial. But, how can sales reps build this earlier into the sales process to save valuable time and resources?
Ultimately, sales qualification frameworks are the way to go. Not just for you as a sales representative, but for your sales team, sales manager and company, too. So, what are the common qualification frameworks and what options are available for efficiently qualifying your leads? Let’s review…
Why is sales qualification important?
Not only does sales qualification mean spending more time focusing on qualified prospects who are likely to buy, but there are also some other key perks to consider:
- You can personalise the experience better for qualified leads
- You can deliver a better product or service because you’ll have an in-depth understanding of your prospect’s needs and challenges
- You can help avoid missed sales opportunities and potential revenue by neglecting the wrong prospects
- You’ll maximise your sales and marketing efforts to the right people
- You’ll boost sales and increase revenue, which, in a lot of cases, will increase your sales commission, too
- You’ll improve your sales pipeline and close rates
- You and your sales team will be more consistent with your results
- You’ll make your sales leaders happy!
What are sales qualification frameworks?
In essence, a sales qualification framework is a list of qualifying questions and criteria that can help a salesperson make an educated decision on whether the prospect is a qualified lead or not.
Sometimes, these questions can be answered with some straightforward research into their LinkedIn profile, business information and company news communications. However, this can also be ascertained with a discovery call or sales conversation if you can speak to the prospective customer directly.
It’s important, either way, to do as much research as possible in advance but not to automatically ditch a lead without some data.
Here are some examples of sales qualification frameworks that you can use.
The best sales qualification frameworks
BANT is one of the ‘old faithful’ frameworks and, perhaps, the oldest, being around for decades.
BANT stands for:
Answering these questions early on can help to establish whether the prospect is capable of buying:
Do they have the budget available to purchase your product or service?
Does your contact have the authority to sign off buying decisions or are there other decision-makers involved?
Does the prospective company actually need your product or service, and will it solve a problem for them?
When is the potential prospect planning to buy? Is it now or in the next budget year?
By getting to grips with these four simple criteria, the BANT qualification framework can quickly assess the quality of the lead.
However, it’s important not to be so hasty with BANT. You shouldn’t neglect a contact just because they are not the decision-maker or might not be buying for six months or so. There may still be an opportunity for them to put you in touch with the right contacts within the business.
The second qualification framework to consider is CHAMP.
CHAMP stands for:
This framework is often considered a modern-day version of BANT. Instead of gauging whether the prospect is right for your product, CHAMP puts the needs of the prospective buyer first.
Again, CHAMP can be reduced to a handful of questions:
What challenges is the prospect facing?
Who is involved in the decision-making process?
Does the prospect have a budget or the right funds to allocate to this product?
How urgent is their need for a solution, or do they have a current contract to finish first with a competitor?
While CHAMP is another option, remember not to be too cutthroat and hasty if the customer doesn’t give the ‘right’ answers to your questions. There may be some deeper digging required.
FAINT is used slightly differently to BANT and CHAMP, as it’s generally employed at early stages of the product adoption curve – innovation or early adoption. Because that’s the case, there is rarely a pot of money or dedicated budget available for these sorts of products and services.
So, instead of qualifying based on the prospect’s current circumstances, FAINT is used to encourage a future opportunity to buy.
FAINT stands for:
Instead of asking questions about current availability to buy, understand if they have the capacity to spend in the future. Ask questions based on the benefits and current results of your product or service: “If we could increase your productivity by 30%, would you be able to create a budget for it?” or “If we could save you £200,000 a year on business operations costs, could you see yourself buying in the next 6-12 months?”. This helps to nail down a timeframe for the purchase process.
The rest of the process is similar to BANT and CHAMP, looking for authority, interest in the product, need for the solution and an agreed time frame for the future.
The SCOTSMAN framework was developed by the Advanced Selling Skills Academy. It’s a more in-depth sales qualification process with eight steps:
- Money (Budget!)
Not only does SCOTSMAN qualify the lead, but it also involves competitor analysis and insights.
For example, the competition and originality stages are used to highlight who your business is competing against as well as USPs of your own solution. A call with the customer should help to clarify any competitor information.
How to qualify a prospect
In general, and as shown as common themes in these frameworks, there are a few must-have criteria to meet.
Essentially, qualification involves an understanding of how suitable your solution is for the prospective buyer, and this can be established by getting to grips with their budget, authority, timescale or urgency.
Before embarking on a discovery call, make sure you do some research on the business to understand their organisation. This should include information on:
- Customer business type and business model
- Company size and headcount
- Current business challenges
- Customer base
In addition to this, you can assess the suitability of the prospect by looking at:
- Their job role
- Years of experience
- Whether they match your ideal customer profile or buyer persona
- Their current business priorities
- Their access to C-suite and other stakeholders.
Assessing the business and the prospect themselves gives you plenty of information to assess the opportunity and pre-qualify the lead ahead of making any sales calls.
Inside sales vs. outside sales: What is the difference?
The goal of inside sales is to sell products and services remotely, using modern sales methods. In outside or field sales, sales professionals sell products and services in-person through face-to-face meetings, events and other traditional methods.
How do you determine if a prospect is a qualified sales lead?
To qualify a prospect as a sales lead, it’s important to start by doing your own research. This can help you to pre-qualify them, as long as you have trustworthy and up-to-date information on the business. You can then use one of the sales qualification frameworks to qualify the prospect as a sales lead, which may include a discovery call to gain more insights.
Is a sales qualified lead an opportunity?
Not always. A sales qualified lead is someone who has met the criteria for qualification, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in the market for your product or service. A lead tends to turn into an opportunity at the point where they’ve shown interest in considering your solution.
To conclude, using sales qualification frameworks has a range of benefits, from fewer resources used and additional time available to better sales pipelines and improved closed rates. There is no one-size-fits-all solution or a ‘right’ framework — it depends on your business, the type of prospects you’re speaking with and your desired timeframes.
Are you ready to take pre-qualification to the next level? Try fullinfo today. We can help you get all the information you need about your ideal prospects!
References & further reading
- How Do You Research Prospects Before a Call or Meeting?
- How to Dramatically Improve Your Sales Pipeline + Examples
- How To Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile For Sales + Actionable Tips
- Try These Modern Sales Approaches And See The Difference
- 9 B2B Sales Time Management Techniques Of Top Salespeople
- What You Need To Achieve Consistency In Sales Performance
- Master These Proven Sales Closing Techniques to Boost Your Results