Disqualify or not to disqualify

Most, if not all sales professionals are familiar with the term ‘disqualifying prospects’. It is a skill that comes from years of practice, experience and knowing your clients.

Saying ‘no’ is easier said than done. After all, it goes against a sales persons instinct to sell.

The skill of disqualifying prospects and their viability of being a long-term customer will essentially save you time and prove more profitable in the long run.


B.A.N.T (Budget, Authority, Need & Timeline) is an algorithm recognised by many in the sales industry.  

Although it can be a good starting block in the process of elimination, it is important to identify the need to deviate from it, a skill already used by the more experienced sales professional perhaps!



Contraindications to BANT


Do they have the funds to invest?


They may say they do not have the budget; this may change over time. This is not a closed deal, but don’t waste time now, call back in 6 months.


Are you speaking to the decision maker?


There is usually more than one decision maker within a company. Is there another contact for you to speak to? Just because one person says no, doesn’t mean someone else will. Disqualify the contact not the company.


Do they need what you are offering?

Have they had a bad experience before? Will they need it in the future? Do not pursue now, try again in 6 months. Is your offering a good fit for your prospect, it has to be beneficial to them?


They don’t have time, or they are focusing on other projects right now.

They may have a big event in the calendar. Maybe you have called at the wrong time. Try calling again during less busy periods when they can truly focus on your offering.


Warning signs

There are several triggers to pay attention to when disqualifying prospects.

  1. Are they window shopping? Just getting quotes and comparing prices.
  2. No urgency, we don’t need it right now.
  3. Unable to get a meeting with the decision maker.
  4. Not returning calls or emails.
  5. More than 3 attempts over a period of time.
  6. They only want to work with local business.
  7. Unprofessional, inappropriate behaviour or sales ethics.

1. Are they window shopping?

It may be that you are one of many companies they have contacted. Are they looking for the cheapest quote? Or are they looking for a quality service for little money? Ever heard the saying “you get what you pay for”?

For me this displays an unwillingness to commit to investing in your offering.  Furthermore, they may want you to reduce your price to compete with the others – if there are others! Be cautious as they may just be saying they have had other quotes.

If their budget is tight it may cause problems further down the line. Consider disqualifying prospects like this or be wary!

2. No urgency, we don’t need it right now

You can ask when they feel they may be ready. It may be that they have a big project in the pipeline that has taken up their budget.

Ask when it may be a good time to speak and if it is ok to call back. Consider sending them some literature for future reference.

Do not spend too long explaining yourself, leave the conversation open for a follow up in 6 months’ time. The hard sell will just put them off all together. (see article The Hard Sell a thing of the Past https://research-runner.com/hard-sell-thing-past-people-put-off-traditional-sales-methods/

3. Unable to get a meeting with the decision maker

You are more likely to seal a deal with the decision maker. Ultimately, they will be the one who makes the final decision.

Key details and generating passion for your product can often get lost in translation by the time the message is relayed to the decision maker.

Ask when he/she is available to speak and call back then, do not waste time explaining yourself to someone who cannot make the final decision. Aim high! Disqualify the contacts, not the company!

4. Not returning your calls or responding to emails

This is always a red light for me when i consider disqualifying prospects. Not only does it display a lack of interest, but it also highlights to potential for bad communication and ongoing relationship.

Communication is key to building and maintaining relationships. These prospects can be more hassle than they are worth.

5. More than 3 attempts over a period of time

If, over a long period of time, the prospect still hasn’t taken the bait, there is no point calling again. Keep your CRM up-to-date and make a note that it is a dead lead. Importantly, keep the rest of the sales team informed, this will save everyone time in the long run.

6. They only want to work with local business

Some companies only want to work alongside other local business. There may be several reasons for this, they may want to contribute to local economy, or only serve the local community and therefor need someone who knows the community.

Perhaps they feel a company from another area or country will not be able to understand the local community or be able to meet face-to-face when required.

That be said, there may still be room to persuade them. Ultimately, if your business has a successful, global or nationwide reputation you should alert them to this and potentially offer a case study or testimonial.

However, do not pursue it too many times. Working with only local business and ingredients maybe their USP (unique selling point).

7. Unprofessional, inappropriate behaviour or sales ethics

For me this is one of the main key triggers for disqualifying prospects. Working with companies or business whose bad ethics and poor behaviour may impact on the reputation of your business.

It is worth weighing up the risk and impact to your company.

A final note

The skills need for disqualifying prospects improves over time and with experience. Aim high and don’t be afraid to say no.