sales qualification basics for the uninitiated

A friend called yesterday.

He had some questions about how to handle sales calls for a new product his fledgling company is introducing to the market. He’s had a lot of calls with potential prospects, but for some reason is having trouble keeping the conversation going beyond the first call.

Keep in mind, this is a very intelligent all-around business all star. You can put him in any environment and he’ll perform really well.

One problem though, even though he’s done a lot of sales in the past, he’s never had to perform a solution sale. So, he’s never had to learn the technical science of selling.

So how does he get it done?

Here’s how:

Qualify. You have to begin qualifying prospects. That means finding a way of evaluating whether a particular prospect is a fit for your business and thus worth your time. Remember, maximizing the time you have on the phone is important in terms of making the sale…but just as important is weeding out those prospects who are a waste of your time. And, since there are only so many hours in the day, you have to learn a method for qualifying prospects that is effective, repeatable and quick to learn.  The easiest way of approaching qualification for sales newbies is the BANT formula. BANT is an acronym, each stage of which helps you qualify a prospect.

Here’s how its works:

B = Budget. You need to know if the prospect has the budget for what you’re selling. Sometimes you can find this out before your call. Sometimes not. What you need to do is either research the company ahead of time to see if they make enough money to afford what you’re selling. Other times you’ll need to ask this to the prospect outright.

A = Authority. You need to know the role of the person you’re talking to and understand if they have the authority to make purchases of the sort you’re selling. If not, then you need to know who that person is and then find out how to get them on the phone.

N = Need. You need to know if they have a need for what you’re selling or if what you have to sell is a solution to a problem they have. If they don’t tell you that outright then you’ll have to probe for need.

T = Time frame. You must know if there is a particular time frame in which they would like to start using what you have to sell.

Once you know the answers to the BANT qualification you’ll be on your way to getting a deal off the ground, because you’ll be able to quickly identify whether someone is a fit for your business or not.

There’s a lot more to the science of selling than qualification, But if sales are new to you and you don’t know what to do, this will help you make it happen.

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