A long time ago, IBM forever changed sales with the introduction of BANT. The mantra is familiar to any salesperson: qualify your prospects based on their Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline.
This used to work well. In a world where candidates didn't know and could not figure out solutions to their problems through a simple Google search, their favorite blogs, or by posting a question on a social media site, they were dependent upon salespeople. Salespeople could quickly identify a problem through a real, well-delivered positioning statement, confirm the prospect's desire to fix it, qualify on BANT, and schedule a presentation.
Today, people are much more informed about you and your competitor's products and services, have identified their needs, and started to design their own solutions -- all before even thinking about talking to a salesperson. One qualification process we’ve developed internally to qualify best whether a prospect actually could benefit from our products and services is a three-part framework called GPCTBA/C&I that we go through during an exploratory call.
Here's a breakdown of each part of this qualifying process.
- GPCT (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline)
Ask questions and understand your prospect. What are your prospect's goals? Their company's goals? Are these goals something your product can help them achieve? What are your prospect’s plans to achieve his or her goals, and the company’s goals?
The goals you want to identify are measureable goals your prospect wants or needs to hit. There are only a few reasons to buy any product: to make more money, save money, or avoid some risk of losing money. When talking about goals, salespeople can commonly help prospects think even larger or more realistically based on their experience assisting others in similar situations. Some questions you can ask include: What is your top priority in 2013? Do you have precise company goals? Do you have specific revenue goals for this upcoming quarter/year? Are there any other business goals that are important? Do you have other goals that can be paired with these?
Now that you have a sense of what the prospect's individual and company goals are, you want to find out what their current plans are that they will implement to achieve these aims. You want to nail down whether they tried this before and how it worked. During this process, you want to begin making your own assessment of whether you think their plan will get them to their goal.
The most important moment in any particular sale is deciding whether you can help a prospect overcome their and their company's challenges; ones they're dealing with as well as ones they (or you) anticipate. Most businesses don't invest money just to achieve a goal. They'll prefer just to do more of what they're already doing and will resist change until they need to make a change. The trick is getting prospects to realize that they are stuck.
It's all about timing. When do they need to meet their goal? When can they implement the plan? When do they need to eliminate this challenge? If your prospect doesn't have the bandwidth to deal with these problems or has more important goals that take precedence, their timeline might be "in the future" and you have to make the choice whether to invest time now or not.
- BA (Budget and Authority)
If you've determined that you can help your prospect achieve their goals, implement their plan, overcome their challenges – all within their required timeline – it's time to start speaking about how they'll make the decision and where the money is coming from.
It’s crucial to establish what your prospect’s resources are. After all, you can't help them if they can't invest in your solution. Assuming you've done an excellent job quantifying their goals and challenges, now's the time to remind them of the positives and confirm that they agree on the potential ROI.
In a world where prospects are busy, buying committees are formed to find solutions and lower level non-budget-wielding, non-people-managing employees are sent to scour the internet for the latest and greatest goal-achieving, challenge-overcoming solutions. A mistake many buyers and sellers make is thinking that the right way to sell internally is to make it an important conversation. Make sure to stay involved by walking through the process with the influencer
- C&I (Negative Consequences and Positive Implications)
What is the negative impact if your prospect does not achieve their goal? What are the positive implications if your prospect reaches their desired goal? If your product can radically help them avoid consequences and further aid in achieving even bigger follow-up goals, you've got an adamant value proposition.