What is Sales Qualification and How it Helps You Filter the Right Prospects
December 13th 2021
Sales Best Practices
According to a report, sales reps spend just 33% of their time selling while the majority of time is spent on manual tasks such as data entry, finding leads, and more. Sales qualification plays a pivotal role in the sales process. With sales qualifications, sales reps can spend considerably more time selling. But how does it fit into the sales process? Let's take an example.

Suppose you are looking to integrate a new CRM platform in your organization. You have been looking for a good fit for your company for days by researching online. The next day you receive a call from a company about integrating their platform in your company. While this might seem like just a cold call, a lot goes on behind the scenes in the company calling you. Each organization has a defined sales process when it comes to making sales.

Table of Contents

  • What is sales qualification?
  • Why qualify sales prospects?
  • Common steps in sales qualification
  • Sales qualification strategies

What is Sales Qualification?

Sales Qualification is the process of finding out if what the prospect is looking for and the sales rep is offering are the right fit. It involves asking the right questions to find out if you should pursue the prospect further or if a deal with them is viable at all. It also helps determine if the prospect would be a long-term customer by analyzing their needs and requirements.

This stage is followed after the lead has been generated through prospecting and the prospect's initial connection has been made.

Some examples of commonly asked sales qualification questions include:

  • What are the pain points that the prospect is trying to address?
  • Is the prospect open to new solutions to solve their challenges in meeting their goals?
  • What is the prospect's budget?
  • How quickly is the prospect expecting results?
  • What are the priorities of the prospect in a new solution?
  • Is the prospect the decision-maker? Or should someone else be involved?

But why is sales qualification so essential? Why are organizations stressing on qualifying sales prospects?

Why Qualify Sales Prospects?

Sales qualification helps in identifying high-value and relevant leads. It is an essential stage in the sales process because of the following reasons:

Improve Convert Ratios

One of the most significant advantages of sales qualification is improving convert ratios. It allows sales reps to spend their time and efforts on more qualified leads and are likely to convert. It also ensures that not much time is spent on relatively unqualified leads early on.

Streamline Resources

Sales reps spend hours on research and pitches when connecting with the leads generated. Sales qualification ensures that time is spent only on prospects who are the right fit and can eventually become customers down the line. If the lead is not qualified, sales reps can spend their team with more qualified leads.

Focused Efforts

Sales qualification helps in focusing efforts by ensuring that focus is on more convertible leads. It helps in directing all efforts towards delivering personalized experience to prospects.

Understand Your Target Audience

Sales Qualification helps in personalizing sales efforts to better understand the target audience. It helps create a buyer persona through a closer understanding of the pain points and needs of the customers.

Eliminate Last Minute Surprises

Sales reps get important information about the prospect through sales qualification. It helps in finding out their requirements and constraints early on so that there are no surprises in the following stages of the sales process. For example, the sales rep's solution is beneficial for the prospect, but it is way over their budget. It causes the deal to fall through. If the prospect is qualified early on, you can avoid such unpleasant surprises.

Structure Sales Process

The questions asked during the sales process set the precedent of the following steps. It clarifies the process by letting both parties know what the other is offering. It makes the sales rep acquainted with the problem areas and expectations of the buyer. On the other hand, the buyer delves deeper into the problem areas and understands what the sales rep can do to ease them.

Increase Productivity

A lot of time, energy, and resources are used in sales prospecting. With a sales qualification process, you can redirect time and resources to better fit prospects.

Sales qualification thus gives direction to the entire sales process and the following steps. Now that you have adequate knowledge of the importance of sales qualification, the next question is how do companies qualify prospects? Sales qualification involves a series of steps that differ among organizations.

Common Steps in Sales Qualification

Sales qualification process involves a series of steps which are aimed at identifying the prospects which would be the best fit for the company. The steps involved in identifying those prospects can be enumerated as follows:

  1. Acquire & Analyze Data

  2. This step involves acquiring data about the target audience from past sales records and interactions with sales reps. The data collected in this step gives useful insights into the target customers and their behavior patterns.

  3. Create Buyer Persona

  4. Creating a buyer persona is crucial not just for sales qualification but for the entire sales process. This step involves identifying the target audience and creating a profile. Identifying a typical prospect's pain points, expected timelines, and expectations from results form a part of this. You can analyze the data acquired in the previous step.

  5. Design Questionnaire for Prospects

  6. Once the buyer persona is in place, the next step is to create a prospect questionnaire. It is done to get information from them. It involves deciding which questions are crucial to the deal. It might include the prospect's priorities when deciding on a solution, their budget, their challenges, expectations from the solution, etc.

  7. Get Information from Prospects

  8. This is the execution step where the sales rep asks the questions designed in the previous step. It is done during interactions with the prospect. Usually, the sales reps begin with open-ended questions and then move on to specific deal-related questions to establish trust and understanding.

  9. Align with Buyer Persona

  10. Having gathered all information about the prospect, the data is analyzed to understand if the lead is qualified or not. You must align the prospect's information with your ideal customer profile or buyer persona. The commonality established between the two verifies the viability of the following deal.

  11. Move to Following Stage

  12. If the prospect is a good match with the buyer persona, the prospect is moved to the following stage. Typically, the next stage is the value proposition stage, where the actual product or service is pitched to the prospect. However, it might differ according to the organization and the nature of the product or service.

These steps form the core of the sales qualification and can help synchronize all sales process efforts.Sales Qualification Strategy

Sales Qualification Strategies

Most companies have a strategy in place that they use to qualify each prospect. The strategies adopted by each company depends upon the nature of their business and the kind of product or service they are providing. Following are a few strategies that are commonly used for sales qualification:

BANT Strategy

A common strategy used by sales reps to qualify their leads is the BANT strategy. It can be described as follows:

Budget - Budget is one of the most important metrics to qualify a lead. It should match the entire cost of the solution with the prospect's budget to avoid any surprises in the stages to follow.

Authority - Maybe the prospect doesn't have authority to make the buying decision. But you can request to get introduced to the person who has the decision-making authority.

Need - People don't buy things if there isn't a need. While qualifying, the sales rep should try to identify if the prospect needs matches with your product or service. Your goal should be to create mutual value and not just sell.

Timeline - Timeline refers to the timeframe within which the prospect is expecting to integrate the solution and the following results. Your leads might not qualify if they look at a timeline different from what your sales process typically follows.

ANUM Strategy

A sort of spin-off of the BANT Strategy, ANUM strategy focuses on the following:

Authority - It refers to qualification based on the prospect's decision-making authority.

Need - Here, it refers to the need of the prospect for the product or service being offered and qualification on this parameter.

Urgent - Urgency is related to the timeframe in which the prospect requires your product or service.

Money - This is related to qualifying the prospect based on their available budget.

MEDDIC Strategy

MEDDIC Strategy is a sales qualification that aims to understand the prospect's needs and constraints in-depth to qualify them. It stands for the following:

Metric - Metric refers to the goals measured in terms of key metrics that the prospect aims to achieve using the product or service. You can use these metrics to determine if the prospect has any actual returns from the product or service being offered.

Economic Buyer - Economic buyer aims to determine the critical purchase decision-maker in the prospect's organization.

Decision Criteria: Its parameter determines the decision-making criterion, which helps determine if the product or service would fit into them.

Decision Process - The decision-making process is also essential to understand what makes the decision. It can help push the deal to closure by determining the people involved, timelines and approvals required.

Identify pain - Identifying the prospect's pain points helps determine the need for the product/service. It can help in qualifying the prospect.

Champion - Champion aims to find people within the organization who are most affected by the pain point. These people can push for the deal to follow through. You can also use them to assess the need for the product/service.

CHAMP Strategy

Besides this, another sales qualification strategy that organizations use is the CHAMP strategy. The parameters used for qualification in this type of strategy are as follows:

Challenges - This refers to the prospect's challenges in delivering and defining their needs. If the sales rep can help overcome the difficulties identified, you should pursue the opportunity.

Authority - Authority here is the decision-making power that the prospect has. However, according to this strategy, even if the prospect doesn't make the decision, they can help influence the decision-makers.

Money - This parameter aims to match the prospect's budget with the cost of the product or services being offered.

Prioritized - It is also important to know if solving the prospect's problem is their priority. It involves understanding their timeline when it comes to solving the problem.

What Next?

While some organizations may skip sales qualification, it is highly recommended that leads are qualified before they are moved to the following stages. Structure your sales qualification process with the most appropriate questions. Create a custom sales qualification process to see improved results. Optimize the time and effort of your sales reps and your organization's resources.

Shreya Palsani
Contributing Writer
Shreya Palsani
Contributing Writer
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