Lead qualification is one of the most critical elements in the sales process. Without proper qualification, reps burn unnecessary cycles with prospects who may have no true ability or need to purchase a product or service. In some sales processes, the SDR’s are responsible for qualifying, while in others the sales reps do this in the Discovery Call. If BANT is met, the prospect moves into an opportunity stage. Sounds like a perfect system, right? Think again.

BANT is so 2017.

The standard sales qualification process is known as BANT – an acronym for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. When it’s established that a prospect meets each of these (or the majority of them), an opportunity exists. But what BANT doesn’t tell you is how far into the buying process the prospect actually is. This is where the problem lies.

In years prior, prospects spent much of the buying journey speaking with reps from different companies and gaining knowledge about various solutions. It made sense to qualify them with BANT because they were actively searching for information that only sales reps could provide.  Fast-forward to today, and by the time you’re speaking with a lead/prospect, they are nearly 70% down the buying journey. They’ve likely established the competitor set and completed all the initial comparing and contrasting online – they don’t need you for that. (But don’t worry they still need you!)

Today, when a prospect comes to you with an established BANT, you are already too late to the sale. Why? Because your competitors have likely already defined the criterion for them.

Outbound lead gen enables YOU to set the criteria

So often prospects have a problem they simply don’t know how to solve.

They don’t wake up in the morning thinking, ‘If only I had XYZ software, this wouldn’t be an issue!’

The fact is, they may not even know a solution exists. And they certainly haven’t budgeted for ‘solutions we may need but don’t know about.’

When reps wait for hand-raisers as a primary means of pipeline generation, many times it’s just too late. The conversation is now more of a price-based decision because the prospect believes they know what they need, how much it’ll cost and time required to implement. They’ve researched multiple vendors, determined what they need and are seeking someone to provide it. But they often don’t KNOW what they need. What they truly need is a knowledgeable sales rep to help them figure it out. Get in front of them BEFORE they start researching so you can show them the way…

Outbound Lead Gen is so 2022

Consistent outbound lead generation is the key to getting in front of prospects before the competition does. Sure, it’s harder than ever before. The pandemic has changed the landscape of outreach and increased the challenge. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It’s 100% worth it. Because as we mentioned, inbound leads are not going to fill the pipeline.

Forget BANT. In 2022, lead qualification is PACE:

  • Problem
  • Access
  • Cost
  • Establish

When you engage in outbound prospecting, you have more control over the process. Instead of determining if they have BANT, you help them identify a challenge you can solve and create the demand for it.  

  1. PROBLEM: As the subject matter expert, you define the problem and demonstrate how your solution solves it. When someone already believes they have the right answer to their problem, moving them off that idea is monumentally challenging. To change someone’s belief system is akin to trying to nail Jello to a tree. It’s possible – but not likely.
  2. ACCESS: Prospecting efforts should never focus on just one person. Reaching out to multiple people across an organization increases brand awareness and helps you gain access to the larger buying group. Every rep has been caught ‘below the power line’ and struggled to get over it. When you start outreach at the top, you dramatically increase chances of getting other decision makers involved early on.
  3. COST: As mentioned before, budgets don’t often contain large amounts of money for ‘unknown services for unmet needs.’ Qualifying a prospect based on them having a sufficient budget is counterproductive. You defined the solution for them, so you define the cost. When a need becomes important enough, budget can be found. Which brings us to the last point…
  4. ESTABLISH: Is this a need-to-have or a nice-to-have? Establishing the urgency with which they need your solution is perhaps the biggest indicator of qualification. If this is a nice-to-have, you may want to move on – few B2B organizations have extra budget for products that would be cool to implement. If it isn’t urgent, send them back to Marketing and have them nurtured until it is!

The buying process has changed. It’s critical that sellers adopt new ways of engaging prospects who are digital savvy. With PACE, you don’t wait for prospects to come to you with their problem. You connect with them through outbound and leverage your expertise to help them solve their problem. It’s a proactive approach whereby you AND your new client get what you need.