A salesperson’s time is his most important asset. It is finite and it is perishable. Like any asset, it can be used productively or it can be wasted. As I work with various sales organizations across the country in the healthcare industry, I find the most common problem and frequent mistake made by sales executives is a failure to qualify prospects and, as a result, they lack the information necessary to determine where best to spend their precious time. The strategy employed instead is a strategy of HOPE. And, as we all know, “Hope is not a strategy.” I am not here to suggest that qualifying is easy…in fact, it has become very difficult. However, regardless of the challenges, it is still critically important to learn to qualify, to qualify every prospect, and to qualify throughout the sales process.
Years ago, during my sales career at IBM (known for excellent sales training), we were taught to ask and receive answers to three simple questions. They were easy to remember because they were the initials of the National Basketball Association (NBA). In sales parlance, they stood for Need, Budget, and Authority. Other sales training techniques added a fourth question and that was timing and, therefore, the acronym became BANT. Over the years, I realized that every training program, every industry, every unique product had it own set of questions, technique, or method to qualify prospects. Whether NBA or BANT or another technique will address the problem with your product, with your prospects, and in your industry is for you to answer. The key is to adopt a process, establish a set of questions, or develop a method that works. Because at the end of the day, qualifying accomplishes two very important tasks…it tells you where to spend your finite and precious sales effort and it tells you where not to spend your finite sales effort. And, sadly, when you are finally forced to remove a prospect from your forecast because “no decision” was made, it is usually because the prospect did not have the need, authority, or budget to proceed.
As a member of the finance community, it has been my experience that the one qualifying question that is most commonly missed is the budget question. It is often wrongly assumed that if the prospect is considering your product or service that they must know how they are going to pay for it. That’s often not the case and this is where we can bring significant value. How nice would it be to know that the prospect has budget allocated and that the budgeted amount is sufficient to afford your product or service. Alternately, it they intend to finance your solution, wouldn’t you want to know that they have the credit strength to qualify? There is nothing worse than to earn the business, but lose the deal due to a lack of funding. Let us help ensure this one element…that your offering’s price and the prospect’s ability to pay are at least in the same ballpark.
As stated earlier, the questions that you ask to identify a prospect’s need (problem they want to solve), authority (decision process), and timing may be specific to your product, service, or industry. The final question relative to their budget or ability to pay is often more difficult since it has little to do with your solution and its function than it has to do with the prospect and their unique financial condition and decision process. Please allow us at MedCap to research and identify the answer to this final important qualifying question.