Updated: Jan 27
One of the biggest challenges in aligning SDR and AE teams - is for sure, the opportunity qualification and handover process. Sales and Business Development Representatives have meetings and then they hand over the successfully qualified meetings and opportunities to their Account Executives. Nevertheless, in most organizations it is really hard to tell what counts as an opportunity and what does not. Therefore, you need a clear framework in place to standardize this process. If not - everyone classifies a sales opportunity differently, which causes a lot of confusion and friction in the company.
This blog post will help you understand Sales Opportunities and what can be regarded as such. Furthermore, you will find a framework that you will be able to use in the opportunity review process with your SDRs, BDRs and AEs. You will be able to ask the right questions, determine whether a meeting is a sales opportunity, or not and you will have the right infos at your fingertips.
WRITING NOTES during the meeting is of utmost importance. Only by taking notes will you get a clear understanding of what happened during the meeting, what should be done afterwards and who should take over the lead in the process.
With no notes taken, it is impossible to judge the outcomes of the meeting and is consequently very hard to determine who should take over the lead after the initial qualification. Even worse, you cannot even tell whether it was a good or bad meeting. Apart from the drawbacks of misjudgment, this information is very important for marketers to understand what people they should target.
In this blog post you will learn about
1. Opportunity qualification in discovery meetings with iBANT
2. Opportunity criteria
3. Handoff process from SDR to AE
4. Alignment and review meetings
5. Systems and tools
1. Opportunity Qualification
Today, the majority of Sales and Business Development Representatives use the BANT methodology. BANT stands for ‘Budget, Authority, Need, Timing’ and is a framework used for the qualification of prospects in a B2B sales setting. Although BANT is a very useful tool, it misses one vital part of the qualification process - the ideal customer profile. And this is something that you should be crystal clear about before even thinking of creating opportunities. From experience talking, I made the mistake of not paying much attention to the ICP and this is something that will kill you later in the sales funnel!
iBANT Qualification Method
I recommend to use iBANT and the following qualification structure to identify whether a lead or a meeting can become an opportunity:
1. Ideal Customer Profile Does this lead fit the ideal customer profile (Yes/No)? 2. Budget and Metrics Estimates about potential volume. This can be # of video plays, # of scans, # of streaming minutes, # of users, # of server requests, … 3. Authority Do title and seniority fit? (Yes/No) Do we know that this person has purchasing power? (Yes/No) Who is the decision maker, economic buyer, technical buyer, user, …? 4. Need - Before scenario (= current infrastructure) with negative consequences (= current challenges? Pain points? Problems? Struggles?) - After scenario (= goals and targets, means of success, future vision) with positive business outcomes (= benefits of after scenario? improved metrics?) - Required capabilities (= how can we help them?) 5. Timeline When do they want to change something? When do they want to implement something?
From my point of view, in a complex sales cycle ICP + NEED + 1 additional ‘x’ ( x = Timeline / Authority or Budget) should be already considered as an opportunity and the AE should work on it.
In less complex sales cycles, you should follow the whole IBANT criteria.
My personal recommendation here is to figure out what works best for your business. In some cases SDRs and BDRs have to follow the whole iBANT structure, in others you can just apply the ICP + NEED + 1 framework. This is totally dependent on your business and your sales process setup.
Feel free to ping me anytime, if you have questions or just simply want a second opinion on a matter
iBANT Qualification Template
An example of a good but really simply qualified meeting you find below.
Some of the information, like ICP and budget you potentially can research before a meeting. Nevertheless, other information like Authority and Timeline can be hard to figure out via a web search.
The better your SDRs are prepared for the meetings and the better they research on the iBANT criteria, the more successful they are going to be.
Here is the example:
2. Opportunity Criteria
But now the most important question:
When should a SDR get credit for a meeting and when should it be decided if the meeting qualifies as an opportunity or not?
#1 SDR is actively qualifying for iBANT
Ideally, all of the following constraints should be defined - ICP, BUDGET, AUTHORITY, NEED AND TIMELINE.
If this is not possible at least ICP + NEED + 1 'x' should be predetermined
#2 At least one qualification call with SDR + AE + lead occurred
Depending on your process and the # of meetings set up by the SDR team you might include or exclude the AE from the first qualification call. I personally would recommend to include them especially when they are new to the process as the SDRs will be able to learn.
#3 Next steps are defined
E.g. The next meeting is scheduled and/or the lead is actively testing the solution.
#4 Follow up email sent
Send an Email to the lead and the AE in CC that include a detailed summary regarding the identified need and the next steps.
3. Handoff Process from SDR to AE
THE SDR/BDR should create an Opportunity once all of the above mentioned criteria is met. The opportunity should be created and immediately assigned to the AE. With that action, the SDR passes the official ownership to the Account Executive.
The Account Executive has now a maximum of 7 days time to review the opportunity. If the AE doesn’t move the opportunity back to the SDR, the opportunity counts as accepted. If the AE moves the opportunity back to the SDR, a reason has to be provided. Also the AE has to come up with a first pricing estimate, it can’t be the responsibility of the SDR to determine the opportunity's value, especially in B2B enterprise SaaS this can be hard. When selling standard software the SDR can estimate the opportunity value.
Furthermore, the AE has to verify the opportunity criteria as listed above and the SDR is responsible to fill in all of the aforementioned meeting information in the meeting notes of the qualification meeting.
4. Alignment and Meetings Review
Every Sales Leader should review at least once on a weekly basis the assigned opportunities from the SDR team to the AEs and then decide what needs to be done with them.
The same principle applies for the BDR and SDR Leader. The Sales and Business Development Leader should review the meetings of the SDRs and BDRs on at least a weekly basis and identify whether there are gaps between the SDR and the AE.
The main goal of the SDR and BDR leader should be to help the team turn meetings into opportunities and qualify them properly. The Sales Leader should challenge the created opportunities based on the defined rules.
At the very beginning of this process I recommend having one review with each team member and one sync between the SDR/BDR and Sales Leader. If your team is still small you can combine this into one quick meeting every week where you go through the created meetings and discuss the outcome of those meetings.
This meeting should also be a learning session where you get feedback on what works in the qualification process and what doesn’t. So both, the SDR/BDR leader and the Sales leader can further improve and help their teams.
5. Systems and Tools
You can use services like Kickscale to schedule all your sales qualification meetings and track the meeting notes and sync them over to your CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot.
Make sure that you have the right tools for the SDRs and BDRs at hand to ease the process of scheduling meetings, managing meeting notes and follow ups with prospects after a successful meeting. Avoid the confusion created by using individual sheets and instead use your CRM Platforms as well as process and meeting planning software like Kickscale to support this process.
If you want to see how our customers successfully manage the ‘SDR to AE’ process from created meetings to defined opportunities, feel free to get in touch with us.
The handover process from SDR to AE is critical for the whole marketing and sales process. Moreover, it is of utmost importance for your whole lead and revenue generation machine.
If this part of the process isn’t defined clearly, lead generation efforts from the marketing team will not succeed. Furthermore, AEs will get frustrated because they will get too many or too few opportunities from the SDR team.
Overall, if you clearly define this part of the process, you will be able to increase your sales pipeline and revenue significantly.
The BANT Framework was developed by IBM in the 1950s and is now part of the company's Business Agility Solution Identification Guide. As its implication brought success to the company and made the sales process more efficient, Kickscale adapted it and now uses the iBANT framework
Coleman, B. (2021). How to Use BANT to Qualify Prospects in 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2021, from https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/bant