Turning leads into customers is the primary goal of most companies, but not all leads are created equal. Some are much more likely to close than others – and some will never close at all.
Sorting and prioritizing them is called lead qualification, and it’s an immensely powerful process when done right.
There are numerous methods out there that exist for this. We’ll cover two of the biggest ones here.
Lead Qualification: How to Focus on the Best Leads You’ve Got
When you have lots of leads in your funnel, it quickly gets time-consuming to pursue them all. Especially when you’ve spent time and effort working on a lead that was never going to actually make a purchase after all.
Lead qualification is the solution. You determine how closely each lead fits your ideal customer profile and focus on the most promising ones first – the ones most likely to make a purchase.
Exactly how you go about it is up to you. There are many different approaches that exist, but they all boil down to an overall concept: get information from each lead that enables you to determine how likely they are to make a purchase.
The BANT Method
Originally developed by IBM, this is one of the oldest lead qualification systems. It’s still used today. BANT is a very simple and easy-to-use method.
The problem is that since its inception, the buying process has evolved. Now, buyers tend to have most of their research done and be very well-informed before ever reaching out to a vendor.
That said, it’s still a very viable way to go about lead qualification – especially if you’re looking for something simple.
The BANT method centers around finding out the following information:
- Budget: What is your prospect’s budget for this purchase? Is it high enough?
- Authority: Does the prospect you’re talking to have the authority to pull the trigger on the purchase?
- Needs: What are your prospect’s top pain points they hope to address with your solution? Does your offering fully solve those problems?
- Time: Is acquiring a solution to those pain points a high priority for your prospect right now?
Leads that have a high-priority need for what your product can do, have a high enough budget and the authority to make the purchase are your biggest targets. They’re the most likely to actually close the deal, and they’re the ones you want to go after.
The GPCTBA/C&I Method
In the running for “least catchy acronym ever” is HubSpot’s lead qualification method. It’s the opposite of BANT: it’s in-depth and more complex, but was developed directly in response to the recent changes in the buying process.
Rather than just identifying whether or not the prospect has the need, authority and budget to make the purchase, this framework takes a more holistic approach. You try to understand the lead’s overall goals, business model, and the broader impacts of purchasing your solution.
It’s a very thorough form of lead qualification. This level of detail isn’t necessary for every business, but if your product is a potential game-changer for the prospect’s business strategy, this information can be very helpful in closing the deal.
Here’s a breakdown of each step:
- Goals: First, you want to learn what your prospect’s goals are. Not just for this purchase, but overall. Ask questions like “what is your top priority this quarter”.
- Plans: Once you know the prospect’s goals, learn what they’re doing to reach them and what roadblocks they might be facing.
- Challenges: This is a critical step, where you help your prospect identify the hurdles they’re facing on the way to achieving their goals. You need to make sure that they understand that right now, their plans won’t let them reach those goals.
- Timeline: Prospects who don’t intend to buy now or soon should be given less priority. Your time is your biggest asset, and you want to spend it as efficiently as possible, meaning you want to focus on the leads that do intend to purchase soon – or, ideally, right away. Ask questions like “what’s your timeline for implementing your plan” or “do you have the bandwidth to implement right now?”
- Budget: Naturally, you want to focus on prospects that can afford to buy your product. Flat-out asking “what’s your budget” might turn some prospects off, though. Instead, you can ask something like “what are you currently spending to solve this problem”. Then, highlight how much better your product or service’s ROI is, since their current approach clearly isn’t solving the problem.
- Authority: Unlike BANT, this step doesn’t necessarily require the person you’re interacting with to be the one making the decision. Instead, you want to align the solution you’ve discussed so far with the decision maker’s needs. Ask questions such as “what questions or concerns do you think [the decision maker] might have” and then address those preemptively. That way, when your contact discusses things with the decision maker, many of their questions will already be answered.
- Negative Consequences and Positive Implications: In this step, your aim is to find out what happens if your prospect does or doesn’t hit the goals you talked about before – on a business, professional and personal level. What happens if they don’t reach those goals? What will they do next? Could they increase their resources or get a promotion if they hit their goal – or the inverse?
Lead Qualification in Advance
These and other forms of lead qualification are fantastic ways of prioritizing your leads. They still require time and effort to implement, though – you still need to spend time actually getting that information.
In the B2B space, there’s a way to qualify leads even before they’ve converted.
It’s a tool called Clickback WEB. It identifies companies visiting your website and lets you score them based on firmographic and behavioral criteria, such as their industry and size, which pages they visited on your site and for how long.
It also gives you accurate contact data for leads at those companies. By filtering based on criteria such as their job title, you quickly end up with a list of high-value leads that fit your customer profile.