How to Build a Prospect-Friendly Qualifying Process

October 14, 2019

Sara Howshar

Consider the following: When eating at your favorite restaurant, do you want to receive your order fairly quickly or are you satisfied waiting for an hour? And before you can have your order, do you want to answer a lot of seemingly unnecessary questions from the restaurant staff?

Becc Holland, Head of Sales Development at, asks the same questions of Chorus’ ace demand-gen marketer, Shawn Parrotte, in a recent episode of our webinar series, “Flip the Script.”

Not surprisingly, Shawn tells Becc that he would want a quick response, and not have to endure a lot of questions.

Shawn’s response echoes the sentiments of many prospects who request a demo and then face a barrage of questions from sales development reps (SDRs) trying to qualify them.

BANT Questions Can Feel Abrasive #

The typical approach SDRs take to qualify a prospect involves asking the usual BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline) questions, Becc says. However, many inbound prospects might feel that these questions are overly intrusive, or even unnecessary.

Becc asks, “If you were an inbound lead asking for a demo, and I asked if you have budget or are a decision-maker, how would you feel?”

A common response is: “I would feel like those questions weren’t relevant because I requested the demo. I’m qualifying myself!”

Asking irrelevant questions (at least, in the prospect’s eyes) can adversely affect the inbound pipeline in the following ways, according to Becc:

  1. It can slow down the sales cycle for your prospects.
  2. It can make your prospects feel like they are wasting your time.
  3. It can leave your unqualified prospects feeling invalidated.
  4. And, if you don’t give the demo, the prospect may feel like you (and the company) broke a promise.

How Do You Qualify Inbound Prospects Without Putting Them Off? #

Here’s how Becc says she avoids the above problems with the three types of inbound prospects: qualified, questionable and unqualified.

First, Becc asks only for an email address when an inbound prospect requests a demo from the website. Once they submit their email, they are taken to an elongated form for data enrichment that says something like: “Hi Shawn, thank you for requesting the demo. It looks like your company has 20 sales reps, you are a vice president of sales and this is your integration stack ... Did I get that correct?”

Becc says if the information presented is incorrect, the prospect will typically update it. And if it is correct, they will simply hit the “Confirm” button. If the inbound prospect meets qualifying standards, Becc then short-tracks them to the Account Executive (AE), circumventing the SDR.

“For a qualified buyer, we want to create the lowest bridge or number of questions to get them on a demo because this is someone the AE is really going to want to talk to,” she explains.

With a questionable buyer, if that person doesn’t update the data presented, then Becc automatically routes them to the inbound SDR’s calendar for a 15-minute “qual call” to make sure they are the right fit. And, if they are qualified, the SDR then manually routes the prospect to the AE.

So, what if the prospect turns out to be unqualified? Becc cautions not to simply dismiss them, as they may still become a qualified buyer one day. Maybe even very soon, in fact.

At a time when many companies are experiencing hyper-growth, a prospect with potential should not be overlooked — or discarded.

“I still want unqualified prospects to have a taste of the platform. I also want to fulfill the promise I made to them when they asked for a demo request,” says Becc. “However, I don’t want to waste the AE’s time. So, I typically send these prospects to a biweekly product webinar where an SDR or junior AE can pitch everyone as a group.”

Becc adds, “This is a great way to surface potential buyers from the unqualified stack. I ask the SDR or junior AE running the webinar to tell attendees that they can ping them directly if they are interested in more information or pricing.”

For Outbound Leads, SDRs Need To Do Their Homework #

Outbound prospects also require delicate handling in the qualifying process, according to Becc. “Typically, outbound works by having an SDR follow a lead, then contact someone, and then BANT them after they make contact,” she says.

However, Becc cautions that putting the outbound prospect through a long line of questioning after they agree to take a call can:

  1. Increase no-shows (because the prospect is insulted).
  2. Decrease the likelihood that the person will agree to meet.
  3. Make the prospect feel confused or even upset.

To avoid these problems, Becc offers a simple solution: “I drill into my SDRs that they must qualify outbound prospects in advance. If they are making the call, they should be reasonably sure that the target is a decision-maker at a company with the right number of employees and the right integration stack.”

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