B2B Sales Lead Qualification: Why Your Business Can’t Wait On BANT Leads
The handoff between Sales Development Representative (SDR) and Sales Representative is a key component of a successful B2B lead generation program. Your sales team wants to pitch to good leads; therefore, your SDR team has to do a great job at not only passing off leads seamlessly but also qualifying leads.
While lead qualification is extremely important in B2B sales, it’s unrealistic to expect your SDR team to pass your sales reps the perfect lead every single time. Way back when you were a good lead generator if you could do this. This was the way of the B2B lead generation world.
The reality is, hardly ANY prospect is going to fit into a perfect little box. Here’s what lead qualification used to look like and how your organization shouldbe qualifying leads today.
What Is a BANT Lead?
A BANT lead is a lead that is considered qualified because it meets the following criteria: budget, authority, need, and timeline. To further explain, it describes a lead who has specified their budget, has the authority to make a decision (they are the key decision-maker), they currently have a need for your product or service, and their timeline is realistic.
A decade or so ago, sales organizations only wanted their teams to produce BANT leads. If their SDR team could produce BANT leads, it would make selling that much easier. While this is a great idea, in theory, it actually isn’t the best way to sell. The handoff is not what it was 10 years ago.
In baseball, the more runners you have on base, the better chance you have of scoring runs. The same is true in B2B sales; the more scheduled pitches your sales reps have, the more closed deals they will see.
Why BANT Is Not An Effective Method For Qualifying Leads
The fact of the matter is this: your business can’t wait on BANT leads. For one, it’s not a real thing that you can predict. For your organization to say, “I want 20 BANT leads a month,” it is like saying you know that there are X amount of companies that have the budget, timing, etc. You don’t know if that’ll be the case every month. That’s why there’s a lead nurture process.
Wait for leads that are perfect from your SDR team. Then, your B2B sales reps can easily close those deals. OR
Let your salespeople talk to as many people as possible, even if they don’t meet BANT criteria.
Still not sure which option is better?
Take the following analogy for example: would you rather give each of your kids one perfectly wrapped present for Christmas? One that was wrapped so perfectly, it looks like it was done by elves? Or, would you rather give your kids tons of presents that look like they were wrapped in a hurry on Christmas Eve? Kids don’t care about a mediocre wrapping job, they just want to rip them open and see what’s inside. Salespeople are the same way. They’d rather be selling than waiting on the perfect lead. So, let them do what they’re paid to do—SELL! Who cares if a lead isn’t perfect? It’s their job to find out more information on a pitch.
Here are a few other reasons why the BANT method for qualifying leads isn’t realistic:
“I only want my salespeople talking to leads that are qualified; we need to know timing, authority, need, and timeline before we can sell to them”
Then WHAT are your salespeople being paid for? You have highly compensated salespeople who are being paid to sit there and wait on a perfectly qualified lead? A machine could sell to a BANT lead. It’s the easiest thing to do because they’re completely ready to buy. At that point, you’re paying them to be order takers, not to sell.
“I’ll just make it a goal and say we need X BANT leads a month. This way, we know we’ll hit our sales goals.”
First, t’s completely unrealistic to predict how many BANT leads you’ll be able to get. Secondly, this will only cause your sales team to lie and fabricate numbers. Let’s say a lead meets every piece of criteria except the “A” in BANT (you’re not sure if this person has the authority to make a decision). If they’ve told you everything else, a team member could easily lie and say that they were, in fact, the key decision-maker. Setting unrealistic goals for your sales team only hurts you in the end.
“If leads are being passed to my sales team that aren’t qualified according to BANT criteria, then my salespeople are wasting their time.”
Not necessarily. If your salespeople are good at selling, they can extract information from prospects to help the sale along. Plus, even if it’s not the right time, the lead can now enter the nurturing process. Your sales rep can continue building a relationship until it is the right time. Let your salesperson actually SELL and find out information on the appointment.
Train your SDR to look for the minimum requirements (“qualifiers”) instead of fitting every lead into a perfect box. Do you want your SDR team to disqualify leads just because they don’t meet very specific criteria? Probably not. You’d rather have your highly skilled salespeople having conversations and building relationships with as many people as possible.
How You Should Be Qualifying and Handing Off Leads
We’ve already determined that BANT is an outdated lead qualification method. While there are a dozen other lead qualification methods used by B2B businesses and sales organizations, we believe the solution is simple:
More activity, more conversation, and more moving people down the path.
In the world we live in today, it’s like a marathon to get the lead to the appointment level. When it does, the handoff to the salesperson is completely different. It’s not, “here is the perfect lead that meets BANT qualifiers,” it’s, “here is a lead that has been nurtured for X months, the KDM has changed four times, etc.” What a salesperson gets today is not the perfect lead every time.
However, a lead where the timing was wrong or the KDM was not identified would have been disqualified using the traditional BANT method. Today, we choose to nurture these leads until we find the right key decision-maker who is ready to have a conversation. We nurture a lead until it is the right time.
Today, “handing a lead off smoothly” means something totally. different.
You may not know their budget, timeline, etc. The SDR team may not have this information. It’s the sales team’s job to determine: what information DO I know? What do I have to work with? Here’s the information sales reps usually have to work with for a B2B sales appointment today:
Good notes.Since the nurturing process is such an important aspect of B2B selling today, an SDR should have kept an excellent, thorough record of notes throughout the lifecycle of that prospect. If the SDR team can converse with the prospect for however long it takes and capture all of that history in notes, that should be more valuable to a sales rep than someone checking a box (ex: they have the budget, check).
Voice recording. Nowadays, a B2B Sales Rep can listen to past conversations between a Sales Development Representative and the prospect. By listening to old calls, they can listen for voice inflection, gauge interest level, and take note of other parts of the conversation that may be helpful to them when trying to close a deal.
Qualifiers. Just because you aren’t using the BANT method doesn’t mean your leads aren’t qualified. There are always going to be qualifiers, just not BANT. For example, a managed service provider looking for leads should not be looking for someone who knows their exact budget, a timeline of a project, etc. Do they have computers/hardware? Do they have employees? Then you probably have a service they could use. As long as they meet simple qualifiers, they can be considered a sales qualified lead. A great B2B sales rep should be able to close the deal; or, at the very least, nurture them until it’s the right time.
LinkedIn profile. Sure, maybe the prospect doesn’t meet qualifications that make them 100% ready to buy right now; but, the sales rep has to use every resource they have at their disposal to become better at selling. Looking up someone’s LinkedIn profile before a B2B sales appointment is a great way to learn more about a prospect and have more meaningful conversations.
Communication between SDR and sales rep. Instead of a faceless call center that is completely detached from its team of Sales Development Representatives, make sure your two teams work closely together. If your SDRs have a close working relationship with your B2B sales reps, they can prep your salespeople for appointments. Whether you’re outsourcing your B2B appointment setting efforts or handling it in-house, frequent communication between these two teams is critical if you want to close more deals.
Can Your B2B Sales Reps Afford to Wait?
The world of B2B lead generation was previously set up to hand off an unrealistic lead to a sales rep who could only sell a lead in that unrealistic box. Today, it’s more about having as many conversations as possible. Meanwhile, training your sales reps and SDRs to work collaboratively and perfecting the nurturing process. To really win the race, you just need to throw the baton as far down the track as you can. As long as the salesperson catches it, you’re ahead of everyone else.
Less perfect appointments = more conversations.
More conversations = more closed deals.
Let your salespeople talk. Let them SELL.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we’ve perfected the B2B appointment setting process and we know that a qualified lead does not mean a perfect lead. If you want to grow your business and talk to as many potential customers as possible, our lead generation programs can help. Contact us today to learn more.