Are you qualifying your clients the right way?

In his Solution Selling Fieldbook, Keith Eades provides a great analysis on what he calls the “Myth of Qualification.” Most sales professionals are familiar with the concept of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) – the acronym has been around since the early 1960’s. It is often used as a method to determine the ability and likelihood of a client to buy. But this tool was invented to assess “Early Adopters” who have set budgets and have a single decision-maker. Regardless of your industry, the sales process is much more complex now with multiple influencers, budget variances and often greater competition. Here are some alternatives you should consider in each qualification category.

Budget: Only 20-30% of purchases are budgeted in advance of evaluation, which means 70-80% of clients seek budget after an in-depth discovery and scoping process. In the old model, clients who would previously been disqualified could actually be a likely or strong opportunity.

When you convince your client of the value of your solution, they’ll find the money to make it happen.

Authority: We almost never see a single decision-maker in the buying process anymore unless you are selling line- item upgrades or add-ons. In the modern business world, the people with signature authority depend on their teams to help them understand the needs of the organization and select the best solutions to solve those needs.

Make sure you’re covering multiple levels in your client organization – you never know where your strongest supporters may come from.

Need: A buyer doesn’t know what they don’t know. They often do not understand your solution’s true value, and in many cases can’t identify where their real problem lies. They may be experiencing the symptoms of the problem, without true identification of the solution. Your job as a salesperson is to help them uncover these problem areas, those they can resolve utilizing your solution.

Guide them towards the vision that you want them to have.

Timing: Timing of a decision flows directly from the need a buyer believes they have. If timing is already determined, then so is the need and vision of the solution. If you pressure a client with a timeframe, you’re more likely to lose a deal than win one.

Help your client to build a vision and advise them on the timeline to get it done, or you’ll lose the deal.