Last night, I attended the NYC Enterprise Sales Forum’s meetup on “Buyer Focused Deal Qualification” with Sean Burke, CEO of KiteDesk. Sean shared his team’s qualification framework, NOTE, which stands for Need, Opportunity, Team, Effect.
The KiteDesk process begins when SDR pre-qualify outbound contacts or inbound leads using an Ideal Client Profile (ICP). In Miller Heiman language, they have determined their economic buyer is either the head of sales or CMO, the user buyers are SDRs, AEs, and sales managers, and their technical buyers are legal and finance/procurement. When SDRs book discovery meetings, they set the tone for buyer-focused qualification by framing the forthcoming call as “An opportunity to help you (the prospect) see if we are a fit for you” or “The call we are scheduling is for you to qualify us.”
The discovery call, led by an AE (not the SDR), covers the first two elements of the qualification framework as follows:
- Need: “Do I need it?” – Here, the AE is working to identify a measurable factor tied to a business issue the prospect is trying to achieve, or equivalently, to a problem the prospect is trying to solve. As Sean described it, this is “Not about what the product does (features), but rather what it does for you.” During Q&A, Sean offered that it is often necessary to lead the prospect to the need (“Challenger”-style)
- Opportunity: “Is it worth the effort/work/pain it will take me to implement it?” – Here, the AE is working to quantify the value of the measurable factor.
Sean’s goal, wisely, is to disqualify as many “poor fit” prospects as possible. The tell-tale sign is when prospects are unable to express the high-level business objectives of their company; they see the trees, not the forest. He shared that 48% of prospects do not make it past the discovery call.
In a second call, the AE moves on to the next element:
- Team: “Who has to do the work to achieve the opportunity? How will I get my team to adopt the new solution?” – Sean emphasized that the WHO here is the implementation / change management team, not the purchase decision making team.
As the sale progresses, Sean seeks to identify a guide – a “mobilizer” in Challenger language or a “Coach” in Miller Heiman language.
The final step comes after the prospect has a made a decision to buy (as opposed to building or deferring) and are now deciding on whether to buy from you versus a competitor.
- Effect: “What is the timeline for achieving the opportunity?” For KiteDesk, this comes in the proof-of-concept/trial stage since the data they collect allows them to quantify the ROI by quarter.
While not officially in the NOTE framework, Sean revealed that budget and urgency (aka timing) will develop naturally if the opportunity is large enough.
Sean argued rather adamantly that his framework is different than BANT+D+C (budget, authority, need, and timing + decision + competition). I guess I’ve become jaded since I have yet to come across a framework that is not a reordering of synonyms of this decades-old but still spot-on framework. For me, the “N” and “O” map to the “N” in BANT; the “T” and the buyer pre-qualification map to the “A” in BANT and to “decision”; and, the “E” maps to the “T” in BANT. NOTE is just missing the “B” in BANT, but KiteDesk does pick that up along the way, just not as part of early qualification.
Finally, during Q&A, and audience member brought up the importance of understanding alternative options being considered – inaction, in-house build, or a competitor. This is the last piece of BANT+D+C.
So, while NOTE is not novel, and in fact not as comprehensive as BANT+D+C, the discussion was lively and I very much appreciated how buyer-centric qualification is becoming the new normal in account-based B2B sales.
[If you want to go deeper, here is a direct link to Sean’s eBook on the NOTE framework.]