When I first started qualifying the leads that came my way, I followed conventional qualification frameworks. Since then, I’ve started adding and removing questions as I see what works best.
Overall, however, I noticed that I spent a whole lot less time talking with people who were never going to be good clients for me. I also started getting clients that were easier to work with and just fit better with the way I worked.
Many of my clients are juggling life, family, pets, faith, volunteering and more along with running their business. They’re so busy that they often don’t have the time to think about the best way to make more time!
I figure that one of the best ways I can help the folks I work with is to learn more about the processes and systems that have helped me. That way, if I can help just a few people get a little more time with their kids, I’m helping their whole family. I’m challenging myself to spend this whole month learning and writing about lead and client qualification.
Today I’m checking out the various qualification frameworks to see if there’s something that I can add or will help with my own process. The more I look into this topic though, the more I believe that everything customer-facing is qualifying. Scary, because that means I have a lot of work to do myself!
The whole formal qualification model thing might seem a bit academic. And it is! I’m sure back in the day, I learned some of this in school. But the thing is, I never really understood what the benefits to me would be or how I could make them work. I’m hoping I can explain these well enough so that you can take at least one little bit to incrementally improve your own qualification process.
So, here’s a list with my own interpretations. I know about BANT, BANTS, and CHAMP, and the rest I’ll learn about. At the end, I’ll follow up with an idea or two how to use some of this info!
List of Qualification Frameworks:
Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline, Suppliers
Budget – In my experience, knowing someone’s budget upfront is a huge time saver for both me and the lead. I’m on board with this one. If you don’t ask you run a big risk of wasting time and disappointing your lead. I do ask for a range, and I do explain why I ask – I know this one is sensitive!
It is terrible for the lead to get all excited about a solution, excited about working with you, relieved that their problem will be solved, just to find out that your minimum is $5000 and they only have $500. Pretty annoying to you too. It’s especially bad for both of you if you had a $500 product or service that could get the lead started or, to the full solution with a little work from them.
Authority – You need to know who has the authority to make project decisions. Otherwise you might waste a lot of time re-presenting your ideas. You could have an employee 100% on board, but if you haven’t been pitching to the decision maker, it means next to nothing.
Needs – You have to first figure out what the lead needs and wants before you can know if you can provide a solution for them.
Timeline – does the timescale the lead needs/wants fit with your availability? Will that lead be willing to invest the time required to get to a solution?
Suppliers – What other vendors does this lead work with? There are lots of great reasons to figure this out. Are they working with another agency that will step on your toes as you’re trying to do your job? Are they working with tools & services that you know and love? Or sub-par ones that will be a pain and take twice as long to build out? I’m not sure where the “S” was added. I learned this from Michael Killen from Sell Your Service, and I’ve found it to be pretty helpful, especially from a tools-used perspective.
Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization
Challenges – What are the problems this lead is trying to solve? Very similar to needs/wants.
Authority – same as Authority in BANTS
Money – same as Budget in BANTS
Prioritization – Just how important is solving this challenge to the lead and her organization?
Authority, Need, Urgency, Money
Anum is, like CHAMP, a modification on BANT, with a focus on working with a lead with authority.
Authority – same as Authority in BANTS
Need – same as Need in BANTS
Urgency – same as Timescale in BANTS
Money – same as Budget in BANTS
Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion
This one is quite different. It focuses on what your product or service can measurably do for the lead. It also recognizes that deciding to buy and actually spending the money is a complicated process in a company. This looks to be very helpful for enterprise-level projects at larger companies.
Metrics – how will the lead measurably benefit from your service or product? How would you measure success? I like this one! If we can figure out, during qualification that the purchase is a no-brainer for the lead, the sale itself is probably just a formality.
Economic Buyer – Who can decide to actually spend the money?
Decision Criteria – how will the decision be made?
Decision Process – what process will the company go through to make the decision?
Identify Pain – Figure out the lead’s core pain that’s caused by the problem they’re trying to solve.
Champion – Who within the lead’s company can be a cheerleader or champion for solution and sell it to the economic buyer?
GPCT / BA / CI
Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline
Budget & Authority
Negative Consequences & Positive Implications
This one is from HubSpot, and you can see the full write up here. This framework is really more complete, and give a much better understanding of the lead and her issues. You may already know a lot of this, depending on how narrow a niche you’re working with.
Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline – At the beginning, the framework focuses on the lead and what’s going on with them. You’ll get a good sense of whether or not your products and services can help this lead. But, you might be spending a lot of time with someone who doesn’t have the budget or the authority to spend.
Budget & Authority – like in BANTS, these are important to know
Negative Consequences & Positive Implications – The lead’s answers to these questions can give you insight into how to sell to them. It reminds me of the Threats & Opportunities of the SWOT matrix. These could be very helpful questions to ask.
Core Qualification Questions
It really seems that all the frameworks cover the BANT questions. They might dive a little deeper or change up the priority, but it’s tough to get around the fact that you just have to find out this information.
HubSpot’s framework is the most customer-centric and that part of it feels right to me. The truth is that you’re really trying to find out if it would make sense to work together, so finding out more about the customer should help.
So which framework to use?
I really don’t think you should necessarily pick one. I think that you should think about your own business and think about what you really need to know from a lead to be able to know if you can help them.
The fact that these frameworks all had questions from BANT leads me to believe those are pretty important, so I do include those. But, I do want to learn even more about the lead and their current situation.
Work out the questions that will help you decide: Can I help this person/company? Can this lead use my product/services? Can this lead buy my product/services? Use the frameworks above for ideas of things to ask your incoming leads.
Tl;tbtr: (too long; too busy to read):
You want to read this post, but the cat just brought a chipmunk into your office and the dog is now chasing through your files, and your husband just called to ask you to pick up a prescription, so here’s the quick summary:
The major lead qualification frameworks seem to all ask for four main things. Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline. It’s a pretty good indicator that you should ask these too.