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The 5 Frameworks of Lead Qualification

A successful company can have thousands of prospects at the top of their sales funnel but what matters are the ones that convert into customers. The process of filtering through these opportunities in order to find the best ones is called lead qualification.

Lead qualification is an integral part of the sales process, without which both sales and marketing teams would be unable to prioritize activities and will end up wasting time and resources on leads that never intend to convert.

Qualified Lead

Generation of high-quality leads is considered the biggest challenge by 61% of B2B marketers. The problem lies in the definition of a qualified lead for each organization. Sirius Decisions has identified 5 different levels of lead qualification according to organizations.

Level 1: Any contact can be classified as a lead.

A lead with such a minimal amount of information can hardly be called qualified and can only work as a marketing equivalent of a pulse in your consumer market. Yet, 28% of leads are handed to sales at this basic stage without even performing the elementary amount of qualification.

Level 2: The prospect should be an appropriate person working in an appropriate organization

In order to get to this level of qualification, the contact’s title and role in their organization need to be known.

Level 3: Acknowledgment of a need

At this level, not only is the organization aware of the basic information of the lead but also acknowledging the need that can be solved from their end.

Level 4: Requirements have been defined

By this level, a potential lead is deep into their buying journey and probably has pre-defined requirements. They need to be persuaded to rethink their requirements.

Level 5: The opportunity is fully qualified according to a pre-decided framework

The final stage of qualification, the sales rep identifies the problem through well-delivered sales funnel positioning statements, confirming the prospect’s vested interest in fixing it, qualify them according to a pre-defined framework and finally schedule a presentation.

Lead Qualification Frameworks

A pre-defined lead qualification framework is essentially a rulebook that salespeople can use to determine whether a prospect is likely to convert to a customer. Even though every customer and every sale is different, closed-won deals share a lot of commonalities. Sales qualification frameworks refine those characteristics into traits that sales reps can look for when qualifying.


BANT is the most popular framework used as a sales technique to separate hot leads from cold ones. Through this framework, the marketer identifies deal breakers right from the beginning without any waste in time and resources.

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. Introduced by IBM, this sales acronym became a simple opportunity identification system to help classify qualified leads.


If your prospect does not have the budget to purchase your product/service then there is no point pursuing that lead. Budget is a fundamental deal breaker during a sales qualification process.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. How much is your current expenditure on similar products/services?
2. Who is in charge of financial decisions?
3. What is the budget allocated to this solution?


There are 2 different groups that are involved in the decision-making process:

  • Decision-makers: Those who take the final call and sign the paperwork
  • Advocates: Those who do the research, take calls and pass the information to the decision makers

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What is your decision-making process?
2. How can I help you meet your expectations?
3. Who would be using this solution and what are their values and obstacles?


Pitching a product/service to a prospect that has no need for it, has a very low possibility of converting to a qualified lead. And even if they do convert, they will end up unhappy as they did not require it.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What does your current process look like?
2. Where do you run into hurdles?
3. What problems are you trying to solve through our solutions? How frequently do you run into those problems? How bothersome are they on a scale from 1 to 10?


Timing and transparency work hand in glove when it comes to the sales qualification process. It is vital that it is clearly understood when the customer is ready to make a purchase. After estimation, if the timeline seems longer than the average sales cycle and the revenue isn’t profitable then it would be better to visit that opportunity at a later time.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. Explain your evaluation process and how long have you been searching for a solution?
2. What are the time constraints you work with?
3. What implications do you face if the timeline isn’t met?
4. Do you have any existing contracts with other solutions that you’re already signed on to? Until when?


A sales qualification process has been developed by Hubspot that best qualifies a prospect and is broken down into a 3 part framework called GPCTBA/C&I.

GPCTBA/C&I stands for Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences and Positive Implications.

First Part: GPCT


Quantifiable goals that your prospect wants or needs to hit are the kind of goals that you need to identify. But there are times when companies haven’t yet defined their goals effectively or they haven’t determined how their day-to-day metrics relate to their high-level goals.

Goals then become the number one opportunity for salespeople to help establish themselves as advisors from the very beginning to aid the prospect in resetting and quantifying their goals.

Questions that need to be asked:

1.  What is your top priority for this year?
2. What are your company goals?
3. What are your published revenue goals for the upcoming quarter?
4. What other company goals do you consider important?


Once you have a sense of a prospect’s individual and company goals, the next thing to find out is their current plans to achieve their goals. It is pertinent to know whether they have attempted this before and how it turned out. Once an assessment has been made, new and better ways can be suggested to them to help them get where they need to go.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What was done last year? What succeeded and what didn’t? 
2. How difficult is implementing your plan going to be?
3. Would you like to hear testimonials of other people who have worked with us and implemented our plans?
4. Are you open to implementing a different plan this year to reach your goals?


Determine how you can help a prospect overcome their individual and company challenges; ones they currently are facing and ones they anticipate. Companies don’t want to invest money just to reach goals but would like to tackle foreseen and unforeseen challenges as well.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. In spite of dealing with this problem in the past and it still recurring, why do you think you will be able to eliminate the challenge now? 
2. Do you believe you have the internal expertise to face these challenges?
3. What hurdles do you foresee stopping you from reaching your goals?
4. How are these challenges being addressed in your plan?


In case your prospect does not have the capacity to deal with their goals and challenges or they have goals that are of a higher priority, then their timeline is set to a future date. This leaves the salesperson with the decision of whether they want to invest their time now or not.

Questions that need to be asked:

1.  How swiftly do the results need to be achieved? 
2. When will the plan get implemented?
3. Are the goals that are set, a top priority right now?
4. Is there a possibility that the goals and the timelines might be revised if found to be unrealistic?

Second Part: BA


It is vital that the prospect’s budget is established so that you are aware that they can invest in your solution. Supposing you have quantified their goals and challenges, then the next step would be to remind them of the advantages and get a mutual agreement on the potential ROI.

Question to be asked:

Upon establishing that your goal is X and expenditure Y, it is time to try and achieve X. But it’s not working. You will need to invest Z in order to hire us. Since Z is very similar to Y and you have more confidence that our solution will help you reach your goal, do you trust that investing Z to hire us is a good idea?


When your prospect is busy, buying committees get formed. These committees find solutions and other non-budget deciding lower level employees are sent to scour the internet for goal achieving and challenge overcoming solutions. As a consequence of this, sales reps often end up talking to the economic decision maker much later in the purchase process.

Questions that need to be asked:

1.  Are the goals discussed between us a priority for the economic buyer? 
2. Is there any pre-defined way the economic buyer wants to solve their challenges?
3. What is the plan for getting the economic buyer on board with our plan?
4. Are there any concerns that they have that we haven’t discussed yet?

Third Part: C&I

Negative Consequences & Positive Implications

You have a very strong value proposition if your product can significantly help the prospect avoid negative consequences and can even aid them in achieving bigger follow-up goals.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What are the implications of achieving your goals? 
2. What are the consequences of not achieving your goals?
3. What will be the next plan of action is the challenge has been overcome?


Pioneered by Jack Napoli, in this lead qualification framework, every aspect of a target company’s purchase process needs to be understood by the salesperson, including whether the prospect company has an internal champion.

MEDDIC stands for: Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, and Champion


Quantifiable and measurable results that are perceived as valid by the customer for his initiative are considered metrics for lead qualification. There are 2 major groups for this which are:

  • Below the line – Cost savings and efficiency gains
  • Above the line – Increase in revenue or profit, quicker time to market, higher quality and customer satisfaction

Economic Buyer

The person with the discretionary approval to spend is known as the economic buyer. This person has the final say and has a clear sight on the business benefits, criteria for decision making and knowledge on the deal closing process.

Question that can be asked:

If we come to an agreement, is there someone else who would, formally or informally, need to be involved for approval?

Decision Criteria

Every project has formally or informally defined their decision criteria which can often be categorized further as Technical, Commercial and Legal Decision Criteria.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What are the technical criteria that need to be considered in order to make a decision? 
2. How is the calculation of ROI done in order to justify the investment in this project?

Decision Process

Decision criteria are all about what the decision is based on while the decision process is about the route a decision takes before it gets implemented. This route can be differentiated into Technical Decision Making, Business Decision Making, and Paper Process.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. Who is involved in the decision making and what steps need to be taken in order to finalize on a decision? 
2. On which timeline is this decision making process based?

Identify Pain

As one of the 2 major qualifiers in the discovery phase, Pain is required in order to understand if the prospect is an opportunity. The pain must have an impact on the customer’s time, cost, risk or revenue within a certain timeline.

A weak pain point will cause delays and even reduced budgets due to their lack of priority from the executive management.


Pain is an important motivation and the implication of which drives urgency. Once the internal employee who has a vested interest in solving the problem is discovered, they would be driven to collaborate with peers, consultants, and vendors in order to attack the pain as soon as possible.


Challenges are fundamental to lead qualification and based on this qualifier, Zorian Rotenberg developed the CHAMP framework.

CHAMP stands for Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization.


A need and a pain that is being dealt with by your prospect are considered as a challenge.  In order to make a sale, your solution needs to solve their challenge. It is important to determine if your product or service signifies the best fit for the distinct opportunity.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What challenges are being faced by your business and what problems need to be solved? 
2. What is your vested interest in our solution?
3. How long have you faced this challenge and why are you looking to solve it now?
4. If your problem doesn’t get solved, then what are the likely consequences you will face?


Authority is normally believed that sales reps should disqualify leads that are with contacts with low-influence. On the contrary, authority implies that the sales rep must ask the prospect questions that help them in mapping out the company’s organizational structure.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. Who all are involved in implementing this solution in the company? 
2. What concerns do you think the decision maker might have? How do you think we should handle those concerns?
3. Would it work better if we scheduled a call together with them in order to answer any potential questions they might have?


Money plays a vital role in any buying decision. If your prospect does not have the capacity to make the purchase then you will fail at making the sale. Once their challenges and needs have been qualified, the next step is to find out their investment expectations in order to fulfill their needs.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What are your investment expectations in order to purchase the solution we are providing? 
2. How much of your budget is allocated to solving this pain?
3. Is your CFO or financial team involved in approving this?
4. When do you plan to request for allocation of budget towards this investment?


Timing is an important function of prioritization. If a prospect informs you of a deadline they are implying the importance and need for your solution and are also telling you that it is a top priority.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. Is there a current contract that you are a part of? By when will it be up for renewal and is there a cancellation fee?
2. When will the implementation begin?
3. By when will a decision be made?
4. What is the importance of this solution to you in terms of urgency and priority?


Ken Krogue, the founder of InsideSales.com, developed ANUM and stated that this lead qualification framework gives first priority to determine whether the contact the sales rep is speaking to is a decision maker.

ANUM stands for Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money.


Through this first step, sales reps will be able to ensure that they are investing their time in speaking with the decision maker and not to someone who has no authority to sign off on a purchase.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. Before I discuss our products/services and how we can meet your business needs, do let me know who is primarily responsible for making the final decision?
2. Apart from you, is there anybody else that needs to be included in our conversation in order to make the final decision?


In the next step, the focus must be placed on the needs of the lead which is vital when identifying the qualification of the lead.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What problems are you currently experiencing with the present situation you are in?
2. Explain your goals and how you would want us to help you in accomplishing them?


This step involves questions of urgency that are designed to figure out the importance of the prospect. Once the sales rep has discovered a need, the prospect should start believing that it is of immediate urgency.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What timeframe are you looking at for accomplishing this?
2. What is the importance of this when compared to your day-to-day operations?


This step is absolutely crucial in order to identify whether a prospect is financially capable of making the purchase. It will help the sales rep avoid the objection they might receive later, ‘I cannot afford that’.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. What budget have you set aside for this kind of a solution?
2. What kind of an ROI do you expect?


The RAIN group advocates the use of the FAINT lead qualification framework as it is designed to reflect how unplanned most purchase decisions are and might not have set budgets kept aside for them.

FAINT stands for Funds, Authority, Interest, Need, and Timing.


The focus must be placed on those organizations and buyers who have the financial capacity to make a purchase from you. So even if they don’t currently have the budget set for it, they have the financial ability to spend.


Focus then on people who have the authority to make the decision of using the funds. Once the sales rep is aware that the organization has the capability to make the purchase, then it is imperative that they are in contact with those who can allocate said funds.


Emphasize on interest generation in the buyer by keeping them completely informed and explaining to them the better reality they can expect once they use your product/service.


Discover the specific needs of the prospect that can be solved by the product or service on offer.


Once almost all the decision makers are spoken to through various conversations, the purchase intent and specific timeframe they need it in can be established. Once done, there is a guaranteed qualified prospect that could convert into a real opportunity in your sales pipeline.

In Conclusion

Effective qualification is the basis on which a sale can be deemed as successful. The ability to find good fit prospects will have a definite impact on business. Prospects who convert into happy customers indicate revenue, increased word-of-mouth, referrals, and even the possibility of cross or upselling. So no matter which framework you choose to follow, it’s imperative that lead qualification is got right.