Qualification is an important phase of opportunity management because pursuing business you cannot win wastes precious resources and damages morale and credibility. We all suffer from a shortage of time to sell rather than a shortage of prospects in the marketplace to sell to. The best sales people seek customers with whom they can align for the creation of value. They take the time to understand how the customer defines value and risk.
There are three types of questions that need to be asked of the buyer: discovery, qualification, and ‘leads to value’. For opportunity development conversations with a prospect there is nothing better than Neil Rackham’s SPIN questioning framework. The book, SPIN Selling is a timeless ‘must read’ for every sales person but when it comes to pure qualification, there are many frameworks including:
- ANUM: Authority, Need, Urgency, Money
- BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Time-frame
- BMANTR: Budget, Method, Authority, Need, Timing, Risks, Roadblocks
- FAINT: Funding, Authority, Interest, Need, Timeframe
- MANDACCT: Money, Authority, Need, Decision criteria, delivery Ability, Competition, Coach, Timescale
- MEDDIC: Metrics for ROI, Economic Buyer, Decision process, Decision criteria, Identify pain, Champion coach, Compelling event
- NUTCASE: Need, Unique, Timing, Cash, Authority, Solution, Enemies
- RSVP: Right Relationships, Winning strategy, Unique compelling value, strong Process Alignment
- SCOTSMAN: Situation, Competition, Basis of Decision, Timescale, Solution, Money, Authority, Need
But none of these address the most important two qualification questions of all; and these two questions must come before everything else. They are questions for the sales person:
1. Why will they buy anything at all (is ‘do nothing’ the biggest competitor)?
2. Why will they buy from us (can we positively differentiate in the mind of the buyer)?
No matter which qualification acronym you use or opportunity management tool (Miller Heiman Blue Sheets, TAS 20 questions, Battleplan, eFox, etc.), always ask these first two questions first. If you’re a sales manager, make it clear to your sales people that they don’t get any resource for deal pursuit until they can convincingly answer these two questions.
"It's not a qualified opportunity unless you believe you can win against the status quo and your rivals competing for the business"
Unless we address the ‘Do Nothing’ competitor and the critical issue of effective competitive differentiation, everything else is a potential waste of time and resources.
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Main Image Photo by Flickr: Marco Bellucci