A Selling Secret: Have Better Conversations

In a recent series of articles about extreme velocity sales on Forbes Magazine, I’ve mapped a way to improve your sales performance. In the latest article, I share a useful selling secret. There are two main ways to have better conversations with your leads: one is to polish up your skills with sales training, and the other is to have more conversations with qualified decision makers.

The average sales training program can increase your results by a little more than 20%, on average. But sales courses take a lot of time and resources that sometimes a company might not have. So, how do you solve the problem?

Changing Your Sales Model and Your Mindset

A better way to approach the sales conversation dilemma is to focus on what you can control in the sales process. And most of the time, that will have to do with the strategic choice of targets. We need salespeople to constantly focus on the leads that have the most potential to become optimal prospects, and only work on qualified opportunities.

But the way we qualify leads needs to change if we are to succeed.

For years, sales organizations have been using the BANT model for lead qualification. This is the model IBM developed in the 1960s to help their salespeople qualify leads. It is an acronym for:

  • B = Budget (Determine whether your prospect has the budget to purchase your product)
  • A = Authority (Are you a person who has the authority to make this purchase?)
  • N = Need (Find out whether there is a need within the company for your product or service)
  • T = Timing (Look for elements of urgency – how soon can they make a purchase decision?)

Many organizations still use this model. The problem is that the BANT process screams “pressure sales” and “manipulation” to prospective customers. Buyers can smell a sales pitch from miles away.

In my opinion, the elements of BANT are still valid. It’s the traditional order of them that is wrong.

the InsideSales ANUM sales model

ANUM is the New BANT Sales Model

In 2012, we at XANT came up with a new acronym called ANUM. ANUM means annual, so you can think about this formula as the best way to hit your year-end goal. It is based on the idea that authority is in fact the most important part of your sales equation. And the one you must secure first, to increase your chances of success.

  • A = Authority
  • N = Need
  • U = Urgency
  • M = Money

In this model, the “Money” element moves to the last position, and “Authority” becomes the first focus. This is because some parts of the sales process have been disrupted with the advent of the Internet. Today, as much as 70 percent of the buyer’s journey happens online. Customers are self-educated and most of the time they are ready to make a purchase decision before they even reach a salesperson on  the phone.

Think about it.

This means that most of the actors in a sales process will already know what your offer is all about!  However, if you reach a person that has the need, budget and even the urgency to make a purchase, but does not have the authority to make the purchasing decision, your deal is less likely to close. Some leaders with authority might have the budget, but might not have the perceived need for your solution.

The ANUM model make sense in today’s high velocity sales world and empowered customers. Focus on decision-makers and make sure they have a need for your product and that the timing is right.

A Selling Secret, on Forbes Magazine

You can read the full article on Forbes magazine, to learn how to apply the ANUM model in your organization.

I’m a regular contributor to Forbes magazine, so visit their website to see what other tips I share from my many years of selling experience.

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