The Art Of Telling Your Customers Where To Go

I remember being amused by seeing a geography student with a sweatshirt that stated “Geography: The art of telling people where to go”. It’s a clever play on words, and one that I was reminded of in my podcast interview this week with the fun (but formidable) Mary Baird-Wilcock.


Most business leaders, especially those in sales, will understand the concept of “qualifying” your customers, but after interviewing Mary, I wanted to take a step back and look at this more closely (if that makes sense!).

One of the dictionary definitions of qualification is:

Source: Oxford Living Dictionaries

So perhaps a good question might be “is my prospective client properly entitled? Have they earned the right to be my client”. And the more I think about this, the more I realise that this powerful question precipitates other thoughts:

  • How much do I rate the service or product that I am providing?
  • How much do I value me? Am I too easy? Or too arrogant?
  • If we engage in a long dialogue with this client, whose time are we wasting?
  • How much do I respect my client that I might waste their time as much as mine.

(You might want to take five minutes and go for a walk to do you own reflection on this!)

Simplifying BANT

The concept of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Time Frame) to qualify customers is widely used, but of course every company model is different AND as Bob Apollo discussed last week, every customer buying cycle needs to be understood, respected and supported.

But what Mary did so incredibly efficiently, was to crystallize her qualification criteria into three easy factors from which the client would have to satisfy two in order to enter a meaningful dialogue. Not only did she state these in a way that any of her team can understand, she applies it on a daily basis to ensure that all of her conversations are fruitful, and even though she may not win every piece of work, all of her contacts will no doubt hold her in high regard for not wasting their time.

What Do You Do?

We’ve started to have some great discussions on these posts, and I would love to hear from anyone who has a near-watertight system for qualification, or perhaps you have made radical improvements to the way you qualify. Maybe you would like to discuss how you might improve your system. Don’t be shy – there is no such thing as a stupid question just the folly of not asking in the first place.

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