World Class Lead Qualification - Increase Conversion

March 29, 2012 at 7:23 AM

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?

 BANT Lead Generation Qualification

Qualifying using the BANT methodology is a natural part of the engagement process.  The insights flow 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.

Download the BANT Qualification Guide template offering suggested questions for success.  Customize this template for your business. 

Lead Generation Job Aid - BANT Qualifying

 Budget by Proxy

Bluntly bringing up the budget without finesse can cause the process to come to a screeching halt.  Don’t ask:  “Do you have budget?” or “What is your budget?”  Instead, use a proxy approach to look for an indication of budget capability:

  • Budget capacity can be taken from the size of company’s revenue
  • Budget is highly likely if they are outsourcing today with another vendor
  • Another possible means of assessment is if the company has recently made a purchase of similar magnitude from the same department

Authority Validation

Authority is most easily validated by there being at least one interested Contact who is Director+ Level.  However, research is often done by contacts with no authority, but they do have influence and access.  It’s unnecessary and counter-productive to burn your contact to go over their head if that contact is a trusted soul tasked with the evaluation.   As long as you have the contact info of the Decision Maker and your Contact has spoken to the Decision Maker about a potential project, then you have validated authority.

 Need is King

Without a true Need there is not enough pain to drive action.  A buyer will never muster the time and resources to make a complex decision.  Companies seldom spend money for no apparent reason, so don’t count on it starting now.  Need is most critical component of the BANT equation.  Formulating ‘Need’ questions:

  • Must be open-ended to invite dialogue
  • Must be precise (not vague)
  • Continuously echo an understanding of their situation
  • Search for pain

Timing Insight

Timing is verified through an understanding of a potential decision timeline.  A Lead generally will not have considered a timeline unless they are getting serious about moving forward.  Finding timing information:

  • Asking for specific information such as a deadline may be unwanted depending on the customer’s stage
  • Allow room for the customer to keep information general
  • If there is a deadline approaching soon after first contact, it is quite likely that other vendors have been contacted and a relationship perhaps already built
  • Look for compelling events

Do I need all four elements?  B+A+N+T

No.  You do not need all four.   Depending on your business, most companies approach qualification by mandating ‘Need’ + one other element, either B, N, T.   The goal of BANT is not to complete the sales process, but rather to ensure that the lead being provided to sales is a qualified lead worth pursuing. 

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 questions until:

  1. There is dialogue with the prospect
  2. The prospect has received 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 with 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?”   This approach will launch additional questions that help answer the question. Plus the prospect will get the sense you are focused on their needs rather than your own agenda.

There is a better way, and this guide offers tips and suggestions for successful qualifying.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by subscribing by Email or RSS.

Topics: Lead Generation, Lead Management, CMO Resources, CMO, Lead Development Rep

Posted by Vince Koehler

Vince Koehler
Find me on:

Get Updates from the SBI Sales & Marketing Effectiveness Blog