I am talking so much with my potential clients and yet I get so little new sales.

Have you ever had that feeling? Or maybe you felt that due to many tasks you don’t have the capacity for the comprehensive research about your potential clients before talking to them? Or maybe one of your salespeople was too overwhelmed to proofread the offer? To have time for the most important prospective clients you cannot focus on each leads equally. Otherwise, you make less money because of time wasted on not relevant sales opportunities. To get to know which leads are priorities for your company you have to categorize them. Let’s take some of that time off your chest, shall we?

B.A.N.T.

One of the most basic approaches for lead qualification is B.A.N.T. framework. It consists of a budget, authority, need and timeframe. You should not be discouraged by the word “basic” in my previous sentence. Basic means easy. Easy means you will be able to implement it fast and all by yourself. And on the top of everything easy means that your sales team will use it if you convince them it will help save time, sell more and face less rejection. Those factors will help you estimate whether continuing conversation may be worthwhile. Here is a counterintuitive fact: to close more deals and do it faster you actually need to learn how to ditch leads that most likely won’t close. Only then you will have the time and stamina to hunt clients that will likely close.

Budget

Your product is not affordable for everyone – no matter how cheap it can be. If you start to sense that you may be simply too expensive for someone you should diplomatically verify it. You can politely ask:

You: Based on experience we know that our service makes sense if the client is ready to invest at least 900 euros. So far the biggest contract which we undertook was 40 000 euros. Is your budget in between those two figures?”.

Client: Yes

You: Closer to which end?

Client: I guess in the middle.

Thanks to this question we have a budget ballpark.

Authority

The closer to an actual decision maker you are, the bigger your chances are. According to that, you should underline particular results of implementing your product.

Sometimes you cannot speak directly to the decision maker. Then you have to remember that your product will be presented by your conversation partner. So your job is to make sure that he will be able to paint the right picture. Ask with whom he has to discuss your product and what kind of priorities they have. Based on given answer you can adjust your proposition. On top of that, you will know exactly how many steps you need to take to close the deal – and how long they would take. Once you know you can weigh the length of that journey against lifetime value of the client and decide is if it’s worth it. For instance:

You: With whom do you have to discuss my product to make a decision?

Client: With our CMO.

You: OK, if he is convinced can we sign the agreement?

Client: No, then I have to ask CFO.

You: If he says yes, can we sign then?

Client: No, we need our lawyers to review the document first

You: If they give us a go, can the CMO sign the deal?

Client: No. The CEO has to sign all agreements which exceed a certain value.

You: OK. So now we have all the steps. From what I understand it will take around 3 months and 4 steps to close the deal. Do I have it correctly?

Client: Yes.

When the potential contract is small and the sales process long you should consider letting the client know that you are not willing to do the deal in these steps because it’s too long of a process for too little money to make it work for you. Pick up your stuff and walk away. Half the time they will stop you and figure out a faster way.

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Need

At the beginning of a business relationship, you need to become aware of potential clients needs. Sometimes you won’t be able to solve their problems. If that happens, it is worthwhile to voice it as early as possible. Ask why they decided to start the conversation with you right now and what problems motivated them to do it. The rule of thumb: the bigger the need is, the bigger priority to find a solution becomes – that usually means that clients won’t procrastinate to make decisions.

You: Why did you decide to contact me? (or why did you decide to reply my phone call/e-mail?).

Client: We are going to expand our business to Asia and look for someone who will take care of our content dedicated to that region.

You: I understand. I am afraid our services don’t include content creation. We are in translations business so probably we aren’t a fit for you.

or

You: Why did you decide to contact me?

Client: I’ve just started my internship and my boss asked me to collect 20 pdf offers from interactive agencies.

You: You need to know that making a tailored offer is very time-consuming in this business. On top of that we have too much on our hands to compete with 19 other firms, so unless you want to pay us for the time spent on analysis – we won’t be interested.

or

You: Why did you decide to contact me?

Client: We are going to enter new markets but before that, we want to improve our digital presence.

You: Great timing. This is exactly the right moment to discuss this.

Timeframe

If a client wants to solve his problems quickly, then he should be your priority. Of course, if a lead wants to start immediately then you have to estimate whether it is possible to deliver the value in expected time.

You: Why did you decide to contact me?

Client: We’re looking for someone who will promote our event.

You: When does it start?

Client: Next Wednesday.

You: I understand, but to prepare good promotion we need at least 3 weeks so in that case, we won’t be able to help you.

or

You: Why did you decide to contact me?

Client: Probably, in 6 months we will consider using SEO so my team leader asked me to do the basic research.

You: Great timing. This is exactly the right moment to discuss this.

That lead, in the future, may become your client but now it isn’t your priority.

Above factors will help you qualify your leads and decide which may be relevant right now. Only then you will be sure that only really important sales opportunities won’t be missed because of limited time.