Can you imagine the existence of a company without sales?
That's a big ‘NO’.
Like your body needs oxygen to survive, the same way sales are considered the air a company breathes. Sales is difficult. Building an ascendable sales model has become a typical challenge for growing businesses.
Sales professionals deal with ample negativity every day. It is difficult to power through all the no’s on the road to a yes. The most priceless asset for sales professionals is time. With targets to meet, it becomes frustrating to waste time with a lead that has never considered buying from you in the first place.
All marketing-generated leads cannot be considered sales-ready leads, because every contact is not a new lead. Irrespective of the lead generation technique used, whether the source is social media lead generation via a lead ad or Facebook ad, email marketing, or content syndication, qualifying your B2B leads is key. The marketing team drives plenty of leads to the sales team through multiple sources like a lead ad or Facebook ad and the sales team goes through the process of trying to convert them into a lead and close them. But all their efforts fail if the potential lead was not qualified. This is where the blame game starts between the marketing and sales team.
Wondering why this blame game takes place when generating leads?
Only because there is a mutual lack of understanding about what a qualified lead is precisely.
Lead qualification is the systematic process of evaluating potential prospects to determine whether prospects are suitable, ready and willing to buy your products and services. This is an intrinsic part of the sales process. Qualifying a prospect includes determining whether a prospect has a need or want for your product, the authority to make the purchase, and the money to afford and execute the transaction.
Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.
William Clement Stone
Sales qualification is a tricky process especially in B2B lead generation. Before moving ahead with the sales process, it is highly recommended to do a lot of relevant research and information gathering about the prospects. This can be truly helpful when you get a chance to talk to a prospective customer person-to-person. But before making a call to your prospects, make sure you know the right sales-ready methodologies and sales qualification questions to get you on the right track. Now the burning question is, what are the sales-ready methodologies and sales qualification questions to get you where you want to go?
In sales, it’s very important to care about your prospects, in order to build a long-lasting relationship with them.
Make a customer, not a sale.
Katherine Barchetti, Upscale Retailer
Customarily, sales lead qualification has been a manual task, performed by sales development representatives in the early stages of the sales process, to maximize the sales efforts and its output. But, in modern days where time is equal to money, it becomes indispensable to clearly define a well-qualified lead to avoid wasting time on cold prospects and utilize them for maximizing sales lead generation efforts and lead nurturing towards the best potential customers for your product.
The lead generation process is a long one and needs to be aligned with an organizations overall demand generation process in order to create a smooth customer journey. A B2B marketer might be able to create a great lead generation campaign that involves a thought leadership blog post with an even better landing page. A robust lead management and lead qualification method can help you achieve an increased conversion rate from your outbound marketing and inbound lead generation methods.
There are a number of different frameworks and sales lead methodologies, that can be beautifully represented by their acronyms. The most widely used methodologies are BANT and CHAMP. There are many more, that can be added to the list in future. For now, let us start with BANT.
BANT Methodology (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing)
BANT methodology was devised by IBM. It is considered as one of the faithful and original lead qualification methodologies and is used in a variety of companies and markets. It covers all the broad strokes to determine who is qualified and who is not. BANT methodology seeks to explore and answer the four following questions:
- Budget - Does the prospect have the money to pay for your product or software?
- Authority - Does the prospect have the authority to make the purchasing decision?
- Need - Does the prospect have the business need or want you can fulfill?
- Timeline - When is the prospect planning to buy?
When you get the answer to all four of these core questions, you get a fully qualified prospect, ready for a final conversation.
Though BANT is simple and quick, it has few fundamental flaws and it misses some modern aspects of the buying process. Specifically, the Authority qualification of BANT may have multiple people or a committee, that will need to sign off on the purchase. So, it’s really important to engage all relevant stakeholders and secure each individual’s buy-in. The modern lead generation process uses multiple sources that include content marketing and social media to find the next qualified lead and your lead generation strategy should stay updated so that your landing page is tailored to generating leads effectively from your target audience. You can always use the latest lead generation tool or lead generation software to help you improve your conversion rate. You can even use an agency that provides lead generation services for a better conversion rate. However, clearly defining the process that your organization uses to qualify leads can have a positive impact on your bottom line.
CHAMP Methodology (Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization)
CHAMP Methodology devised by Insight Squared is the modern and new sales-ready lead qualification approach created to overcome the drawbacks of BANT methodology. CHAMP stands for:
Problems and challenges are the first things to discuss with the prospect before talking about the budget. Your prospect buys things because they have a challenge, and if you have the solution, then you have the real beginning of an ‘opportunity’. By listening to the problems and concern of the prospect, you can find out whether there is an opportunity for you to offer your product and show how it can be helpful to resolve their issues.
The best way to understand your prospect pain or need is to ask them questions which will help you determine whether the prospect is the best fit for your product.
- Do you face any challenges with your current solution that you would like to change?
- How long have you had this challenge? What made you decide to solve this problem now?
- What is driving your interest in our solution?
- What objectives are you looking to achieve by solving this pain?
The answers to the above questions will allow you to determine whether your product is a genuine match for your prospect.
It is always good to inquire about the authority of the prospect. You must ask the prospect questions that help you map out their company’s organizational structure. In sales, time is equal to money. Asking for the authority simply means that you don’t want to waste your time and energy talking to the wrong person. It doesn’t matter if the initial contact on the lead has low authority, they can guide you to the right person.
The key to mastering any kind of sales is switching statements about you – how great you are, and what you do – to statements about them.
Once you know about the decision makers, it becomes your job to reach them for further conversation.
- Who, in addition to yourself, is involved in making this solution happen in your company?
- What would be your role in the decision-making process?
- How are purchasing decisions made for a product like ours and who is involved in looking at this solution?
- What are the concerns that they may have? If they have any potential concerns, how do you think we should handle them?
In sales, money becomes a critical topic to discuss. Never start your qualifying question with this. If your prospect can’t afford the product or service, you won’t be able to sell them. First, find out the challenges and issues of your prospect and then find out their expectations on the investment they need to make, wherein you have the opportunity to draw their interest towards the benefits they can have exclusively if they invest in your product or solution.
- What are your expectations for the investment necessary to purchase the solution?
- Do you have an allocated budget for this project?
- Is your finance team or CFO involved in approving this?
- What is the typical budget allocation process?
- Have you set aside the budget for this project?
In the sales process, the timeline is a function of prioritization. This is about the priority of your prospect about when they need to solve their issues and challenges. You have to be very specific while discussing their timeline and priority list. If your prospect says that they need to solve this problem in the coming week, what they are really saying is “this is a top priority”. This is where you need to work out, finding your prospect’s business plan.
- When were you planning on starting the implementation?
- Do you currently have the contract? If so, when is it due for renewal? Is there a cancellation fee?
- Do you have the time and bandwidth to begin the implementation now?
- How important is this to you and where does this stack up in terms of priority and urgency?
If your prospect answers these questions, you’ll know you’re a perfect match if you believe your product will satisfy the prospect’s need successfully.
It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.
Your existing lead generation strategy can be improved with a few tweaks to how you carry out your lead generation marketing, whether they are inbound marketing or outbound lead generation techniques. Once you've identified your buyer persona and figured out the mediums where your target audience can be found, the journey to filling up your lead generation funnel has only begun. B2B lead gen processes can vary from industry to industry but the principles that govern this methodology can help you optimize your process by ensuring that your sales team's efforts are not in vain and spent on a quality lead.
Using CHAMP as a sales methodology, you can qualify your sales opportunity closely and compare it to other sales methodologies. Adding CHAMP, as a method for your lead qualification, you should also work on understanding the ‘D’- Decision process or buying process of your prospects.