Sloppy lead qualification causes some of the biggest sales headaches, leaving your sales team wasting precious time chasing ‘prospects’ with little or no chance of conversion.
Enabling and encouraging your sales teams to conduct high-quality lead qualification is one of the most surefire ways to improve your lead conversion rate.
- How does good lead qualification increase lead conversion rate?
- Lead optimization - how it makes a difference
- BANT criteria
- MEDDIC criteria
Lead qualification, like many concepts in sales, can sometimes be intimidating to incoming reps. Explaining best practices can be tricky.
You’ll often hear the acronyms BANT and MEDDIC, and these terms are great for helping sales reps understand exactly what to assess when qualifying a lead or forecasting sales.
Both terms are useful, and you'll notice some similarities between them simply because there are some fundamental elements to lead qualification, no matter what acronym or sales training method you use.
You can also use the acronyms to teach your team why good qualification is important, and how it leads to better conversion rates.
Keeping the BANT and MEDDIC sales methods in mind will allow your salespeople to determine whether a lead is a good one, and just as importantly, whether your product/service is a good fit for the potential customer.
Before going right in, it's important to understand the principles behind good lead qualification, and how it can make the difference for an organization.
How does good lead qualification increase lead conversion rate?
The main reason to ensure your team is qualifying their leads properly is because proper lead qualification will increase your lead conversion rate.
Ultimately, it means ensuring your team is pursuing leads which are both genuinely interested in your product/service and in a position to implement it. This enables reps to dedicate more of their time to helping these qualified leads, increasing the likelihood of converting them to a customer.
On the other hand, weak lead qualification results in your reps chasing after leads who aren’t truly interested, and leaving the truly great opportunities behind.
Lead conversion rate is a key metric, and while it may have some variance from rep to rep, you can absolutely increase it organization-wide by coaching your reps to use BANT, MEDDIC, as well as other sales qualification training.
The less time your reps spend with disinterested, low-quality leads, and the more time they commit to serving qualified, high-potential leads, the higher your organization’s lead conversion rate will be. Better leads are more likely to become happy, satisfied customers who will contribute to your organization’s growth.
Sales enablement is about setting up your reps to succeed, so they can achieve their potential, and instilling good lead qualification practices is an obvious step towards that goal.
Lead optimization - how it makes a difference
The next step you can take as an organization to ensure that you’re working with the best possible leads is creating a plan which allows sales and marketing to work together to optimize leads, as explained here by Josh Smith, Head of Sales Enablement at the Guardian.
Josh explains how to set up a lead capture process, increase sales team engagement, and optimize the two by sharing a case study.
“When we did an audit, we realized we had a huge number of places where clients could arrive via our advertising website. So we literally went through all the various areas where they could arrive and refined them all”.
“That enabled us to have full visibility on all warm leads. Previously, we'd done a lot of activity, but because the lead source hadn't been particularly well captured, we weren't really sure what it was driving.
Now we really knew through all the various ways we captured leads, we could really see minute by minute how many [emails, online chats, online inquiry forms] we were getting”.
Full visibility of your leads, regardless of where they originate, makes a big difference because, as Josh explains, standardizing the sales process across functions allows your organization to use the true depth of your data, and gain an analytical, data-driven understanding of your leads.
The better (and more complete) the data you use, the better the results.
As a sales enabler, you should encourage this unity between marketing and sales as both departments are involved in the lead process.
This cross-functional visibility has many benefits, but when it comes to lead generation, qualification, and optimization it results in fewer leads being lost and more qualified leads making their way to the right places.
Enabling marketing and sales unity in this fashion is the just first step towards achieving true lead optimization.
Now, keeping in mind why proper lead qualification and optimization are so important, we'll run through the BANT and MEDDIC sales qualification frameworks, which can elevate your lead qualification standards when used correctly.
BANT sales methodology
BANT refers to: Budget, Authority, Need, Timing
Budget refers to whether the prospect has the financial resources available to spend on your product/service. There isn’t a whole lot of value to be found in chasing leads which can’t afford what you’re offering.
Authority refers to your sales reps discovering the lead’s relevant decision-makers in the area. It’s important to understand who is actually responsible for the decision-making process, and has the authority to sign off on a deal. These are the stakeholders you want to be aware of, and seek out.
Need refers to a simple concept. Does the lead have a business need or pain point which your product/service can assist with? If the lead does, then great! If the lead doesn’t, then it's an issue. If they don’t need your product/service, it’s usually best for your sales reps to focus their efforts towards leads that do.
Timing refers to a key element of sales qualification, understanding the timeline. Does the lead need your product/service urgently? Will there be an internal review in six months’ time, which could result in the lead considering your product/service then? If your salespeople are aware of the timeframe, they’re better equipped to analyze whether a lead is a priority or not.
MEDDIC sales methodology
As we mentioned before, take note of the similarities between the concepts, even if they have different names or letters assigned.
MEDDIC refers to: Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion
Metrics refers to the data, plain and simple. What economic impact will your product/service have on the lead’s organization? Metrics can be a great tool in proving your value to a lead.
If you can statistically demonstrate how you can help a lead, you’re more likely to close a deal.
Economic buyer refers to the lead’s decision-makers. You have to be aware of, and make contact with the people in the lead’s organization that can approve the purchase decision.
Ultimately, it’s these people who will decide your product/service's fate.
Decision criteria are the factors which affect whether the lead will buy your product/service. Lots of factors may play a role here, from an economic buyer being on long-term leave, to the lead’s organization implementing budget cuts.
Knowledge of these criteria can be a deciding factor, and it’s a sales rep’s job to discover these.
Decision process - this involves understanding the buying process in the lead’s organization. How many steps are there? Who is involved in approval? How long does the sales cycle take?
Awareness of the decision process makes it easier to work alongside the lead at their own pace.
Identifying pain refers to the potential customer’s primary business objectives. What are they? How does your product/service help them achieve that?
It involves identifying the outcome your lead wants to achieve, and understanding exactly how your product/service would contribute to that.
Empathizing with a lead, asking the right questions, and understanding their issues and objectives, is a key way to win trust.
Champion refers to the person in the lead’s organization who will sell your product/service on your behalf to the rest of the organization.
Identifying a champion and working with them is key to a successful sales qualification. It will provide you with a point of contact and support within the lead’s organization.
When we think about the lead qualification process alongside BANT and MEDDIC, we get a broader view of what good lead qualification looks like. When sales reps are in the lead qualification phase, the priority is understanding if and how your product/service can help a lead.
The only way to do this is discovering as much relevant information as possible about the lead.
Some of the most relevant information is highlighted in the acronyms. BANT's Authority criteria correlates closely with MEDDIC's Economic buyer criteria.
Similarly, Need in BANT and Identify pain in MEDDIC are there to ensure you're able to understand a lead's business objectives and how your product/service relates to that.
As a sales enabler or sales manager, holding sales training for your reps with these acronyms is a great way to help them remember where to focus during lead qualification.
Once you start qualifying your leads properly and seeing results, you can build from that and optimize your strategy using the data at your disposal.
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