The essence of qualification is identifying who you’re talking to, what they do, who they do it for and whether they can purchase.
In practice, Qualification is the process by which you verify 2 things:
- Company validity: The Company has the financial capability to purchase your product, and a motivating need to consider doing so.
- Contact validity: The capability of the person you are selling to purchase or influence purchase.
You can define this information broadly through the classical BANT qualification method:
- Budget: Does the company have the budget capacity to afford your solution? Do they have budget for your product available now? How much budget have they considered dedicating to your product or one similar to it?
- Authority: Where does this person sit in the company hierarchy? Does this person have purchasing authority? What would their role be in the decision making process? Would they take ownership over your product? Would they make direct use of your product?
- Need: Would your product create clear financial value for them? Is there a current ongoing business problem that your product can solve? How much would solving that problem be worth to them? Is there a legitimate clearly cut business case to be made for your product?
- Timeframe: Have they considered a timeframe within which to make a purchase? What is the timeframe within which they will make a decision whether to buy or not? If you make an effective business case, what would the timeframe for making a decision if your product wasn’t previously budgeted for?
But there’s more. As conversations progress you are going to need a grasp of 3 critical factors in order to move the sales cycle into full swing.
1. Business Model:
In complex solution sales you must understand how the business makes its money, to know how they might prioritize your solution. A proper needs assessment is impossible before you grasp this. Once you understand the business, you will be empowered to re-align the current priority established for your solution.
2. Business Case:
Here you have to define the business case you’re going to have to make in order to get the prospect to buy. If you have a good grasp of the business and the pains you’ll be able to build an effective value based business case.
3. Decision Making Process:
This is the point where you not only define who the economic buyer is, but where you also map out the organizational structure around the purchasing process. You need to understand who the different stakeholders in the process are and all the steps that can be expected on the way to a final decision, including the specifics of the contract process.
Ultimately, qualification is a vital part of any sales process. It defines whether there will be a sales process at all. At its essence though, it must be used with the intent of not only disqualifying leads that aren’t a fit, but creating a value based business case for those that are.