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Why you have to qualify sales opportunities

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What is sales qualification?

Sales qualification is the most commonly overlooked but most important step in any sales process. A qualification framework provides a standardised structure to establish whether a prospect presents a viable opportunity to make a sale. Here’s why qualification is important.

Time is a scarce resource and needs to be carefully allocated

A sales person’s output is limited by the number of hours available in the day. High performing salespeople recognise this and are ruthless about how they allocate their time. They focus on deals that have the highest probability of making them money, and use qualification to identify these deals.

Eliminate garbage from your sales pipeline

Everyone is familiar with the principle of Garbage In = Garbage Out (GIGO). Sales is a process; if you’re putting junk into a process, you’re going to get junk out the other side.
When deals fall over at the end of a lengthy sales engagement, the roots of the failure can almost always be traced back to the opportunity not having been properly qualified at the start. Qualification prevents garbage opportunities going into your sales process.

You need information for deal control

The currency that sales people work with is information—the best sales people strive to have perfect information on a deal. They do this by understanding the prospect’s pain, budget and the critical events determining the requirement for a solution.
The best sales people strive to have perfect information on a deal.
Having this information enables the salesperson to exercise deal control. Deal control means understanding the customer’s needs and wants and using this to only provide the customer with information that benefits them and moves the deal forward. Sales qualification provides a structure for gathering the necessary information for deal control.

Avoiding assumptions

It’s human nature to make positive assumptions. Unfortunately, this is also the bane of many salespeople, who only pay attention to the positive indicators and ignore the warning signs that they may not have a viable prospect. Qualification provides a standard set of questions that you ask to every prospect every time, which helps to eliminate assumptions.

Sales qualification frameworks

There are many good frameworks (each with their own acronym) such as BANT, ANUM, MEDDIC, TAS, FAINT and CHAMP. The best known and most widely used Qualification Framework is known as BANT and was originally developed by IBM. BANT is an acronym for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline and is used to establish the following:
Budget: Is the prospect capable of buying?
Authority: Does your contact at the prospect have authority to sign off?
Need: Does the prospect have business pain you can solve?
Timeline: When is the prospect planning to buy?
A quick google search will find you detailed info on the various frameworks. This hubspot article provides a good starting point.

Choosing and implementing a qualification framework

Each business is different. Spend time researching the different frameworks that are out there. It’s important to implement a framework you believe in and that also aligns with your customers’ buying journey.
You should expect to iterate and improve your qualification process over time, as you gather data on your successes and failures. If you’re in a complex B2B sales environment with long sales lifecycles, it can take years to fully refine your qualification process and ensure you’re only putting great prospects into your pipeline.

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Alex Gasson

Alex Gasson is the CEO and founder of Delta-v. We provide outsourced sales development teams to Enterprise Software and FinTech companies. Prior to founding Delta-v Alex founded and successfully exited a tech recruitment business, following which he had two successful stints as a revenue leader in high growth B2B tech startups. His approach is grounded in deep theoretical understanding of Go-to-Market best practices, combined with over 15 years of hands on experience setting up and running high performance B2B sales organisations. Alex’s writing focuses on expert sales advice focussed on B2B sales development and Go-to-Market activities.