You are always after more sales at your digital marketing agency. The sales process always starts with qualifying prospects. Nothing can be more frustrating than working hard on a sale only to discover that the prospect was not really interested and your work wasted. Whether sales are made by the owner or by a sales person, proper and consistent qualification is a must.
Invariably agencies that approach me have no defined sales process. The starting point for this is to define your ideal prospect and work out how you will identify them out in the market. This gives you an immediate advantage – you have narrowed your search to opportunities that are a much better fit for you. The process of qualifying prospects further refines the suitability and readiness to become your client.
Qualifying is a process
Qualifying a prospect is not an event; it’s a process. As you get to know a prospect and learn more and more about them, you get closer and closer to determining how much of a fit there is between their needs and your service. This process proceeds in stages of successive qualification.
Qualifying Basics: BANT
BANT is an easy to remember acronym for the first stage of qualifying a prospect.
B – budget. Is the prospects budget big enough for the type of work you are looking for.
A– Authority. I the person that you are dealing with a decision maker, and influencer or any type of stakeholder.
N– Need. Is there a genuine need for your product or service. This is the most important criterion and sometimes the most difficult to discover. If there is no need, then no mater how hard you sell; how competitive your pricing or how good your offering, you will not make a sale.
T– Timeline. Is it the right time for the the client to be going ahead or will there be a long delay before you can do a deal. You need to pace your selling effort to match the prospects internal processes and timeline.
Although BANT is an easy to remember acronym, in fact it’s more practical to apply it in the order NABT. This order is a more logical progression.
Although these four criteria seem straightforward enough, it can prove challenging to get clear answers. You may need to develop some techniques for teasing the real answers out of a prospect.
If your prospect meets all the BANT or NABT criteria, you are by no means home and dry. You have just gone past the first gate. There are some additional considerations that need to be part of the 2nd stage of qualification:
More Criteria: AMEREC
The criteria below are not quite the strict qualifying criteria as those above. Rather these are considerations and discussion points that one should explore as you build picture of the degree of fit between your business and your prospect.
A – Age of business. Older, more established businesses better understand the realities of marketing and will be less likely to want to try shortcuts
M– Marketing team. What is the profile of their internal marketing team. Will you find in them helpful or a hindrance.
E– Employees. This is a great measure of size and capacity. Smaller businesses will prefer to hire a consultant
R – Revenues. Some private companies will not disclose this but it is a good indicator for their marketing spend capacity.
E– Experience. Do you have experience in the prospects industry. This will be an important factor in your prospects mind
C– Competitors. If their competitors are spending heavily, chances are that they will be feeling the pressure and could be open to spending more than they otherwise would.
How to use your qualifying criteria
The 10 items above can be used as follows:
- In the first instance, when you first connect with a prospect you should use the BANT criteria to quickly eliminate prospects that are highly unlikely to become clients. These criteria are quite clear and definitive and if any single one cannot be met, they should be abandoned.
- For prospects that are BANT qualified, the AMEREC criteria become relevant in helping you to understand how to proceed.
The use and value of the criteria presented above will depend very much on how you approach sales. If you or your sales people usually take revenue generating people or senior executives into prospect meetings, then you can use these to avoid wasting time. You can also use these criteria to control which prospects enter your sales pipeline and as a way of improving your conversion rate.