If there’s one thing salespeople love, it’s acronyms. And commission, of course… but mostly acronyms.
From BANT to FAINT to MEDDIC to CHAMP and everything in between, there’s an acronym for just about every sales methodology ever developed.
But which methodology (and thus acronym) reigns supreme?
Until recently, BANT was one of the most popular approaches, which focused on Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing.
While all of these stages individually are important, it’s the order they’re placed in that really had sales professionals asking themselves if it was the best approach.
Specifically, they wondered if leading with the client’s pain would be more effective than leading with their budget. After all, it was a pain or challenge that led the client to reach out or take a call with you in the first place.
But shuffling the order of the stages meant also shuffling the letters in the acronym… and NABT just didn’t have the same ring to it.
So the acronym gods puzzled away and eventually came up with a new and improved acronym, which not only prioritized the client’s needs and problems, but also sounded rather heroic.
Enter the CHAMP sales framework...
What is the CHAMP framework?
CHAMP stands for CHallenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization.
It’s quite similar to BANT, in that each CHAMP stage is (more or less) reflected in a BANT stage; however there are two key differences.
1. Challenges always precede budget
By focusing on challenges first rather than budget, you can more accurately qualify your prospect and discover unique opportunities to help alleviate their pain points with your product or service.
Once your prospect understands exactly how your offer can improve their lives and help them overcome their challenges, budget becomes a lot less sticky of a topic.
Had you approached the conversation first with budget, you may have determined them unqualified because you hadn’t sold them on value and they weren’t willing to budge on an arbitrary number.
2. Timing is just one part of prioritization
Getting a feel for a prospect’s estimated timeline is all well and good, but truly understanding their priorities and where your solution fits in will help you both come up with a realistic plan of action and implementation.
Think back to a year ago, for example, when companies were scrambling to ensure their digital assets were GDPR-compliant before the May 25 deadline.
No matter how dissatisfied your prospect may have been with their current solution during this time, if GDPR compliance was a company priority, it was the company priority—meaning other tasks like implementing a new project management tool or accounting software would’ve been downgraded in importance.
The CHAMP framework, step by step
Enough about MEDDIC—that’s for another post focusing primarily on enterprise prospects. Today we’re talking about CHAMP, so let’s break it down, step by step.
The emotionally intelligent human sees challenges as opportunities rather than roadblocks—this is true for salespeople, too.
Using the CHAMP framework, the salesperson is hyper-focused on helping prospects define their most pressing challenges—because once a challenge is properly identified, an opportunity is created.
This approach helps salespeople qualify their leads early on, and provides them with solutions-based ammunition, making it easier to sell to the prospect.
Some questions you might want to ask during this phase include:
- Tell me about the challenges your company is facing.
- Tell me about the most pressing problems you need to solve.
- How long have you been experiencing this problem, and what led you to look for a solution now?
- What would your operations look like if this problem were solved today?
- What will happen if this problem isn’t solved?
When using the CHAMP framework, it’s important you’re talking to the person who has the authority to make a buying decision.
You know firsthand how much time and effort goes into nurturing a lead, and directing it at the wrong contact means you’ll have to go through the whole process again should you eventually get in touch with the right contact.
That said, don’t write off low-influencing contacts. They might not be able to sign off on a purchase, but they will likely be able to provide you with information about the company’s organizational structure and who best to get in touch with.
Use your time with low-influencing contacts wisely to discover who the key influencers in the company are, and then get in touch with them.
Once you reach the appropriate Authority, some questions you might want to ask them include:
- How are purchasing decisions typically made in your company, specifically with products/services like ours?
- Who else in your company needs to be involved to make this solution a reality?
- What concerns might you have, and how can we best address them?
- Are you comfortable with us all hopping on a call to discuss, or alternatively if I schedule a call with them to understand their needs and perspective?
Money can be a sensitive subject, and in sales it’s no different.
Whereas the BANT framework leads with Budget—which can be off-putting to some—the CHAMP framework allows sales reps to warm up to the money discussion.
This approach allows salespeople to first dig into the prospect’s challenges, and demonstrate how their product or service is the solution.
The Money stage is all about uncovering the available budget, including when the budget will be available. It’s also a great time to demonstrate the ROI of your product or service, so don’t hold back on the case studies.
Consider the following questions when entering this stage of CHAMP:
- Do you have budget allocated for a solution?
- When do you plan to ask for budget for this investment?
- Who needs to be involved in approving a purchase?
- What is the typical process for getting approval for investments beyond the original budget?
Prioritization is similar to BANT’s Timing, since it covers timeline; however, it also considers timing in relation to other company priorities.
We already went over the GDPR example, which illustrates how company objectives can often impact departmental objectives—even if the departmental objectives seem like top priority.
Getting an understanding of what else the company is prioritizing will help provide clarity in determining a realistic—not just idealistic—timeline.
The second thing to consider is if there is a milestone date associated with the timeline, such as end of quarter, end of year, or something else the company is mobilizing around. This will determine the client’s urgency (or lack thereof).
Some questions to ask during the Prioritization stage are:
- When would you like to see this problem solved?
- Where does this stack up against other departmental/company priorities?
- When does your current solution expire? If you were to cancel now, would you incur a fee?
- When do you see yourself starting to implement this solution?
- Are you currently looking at other solutions to tackle this problem?
- When is the latest you’d like to make a decision by?
Is CHAMP always the best sales methodology?
With so many sales methodologies to choose from, it might be tempting to close your eyes, point to one—spinning globe-style—and call it a day.
And while CHAMP is a great option for many sales teams, there are some exceptions, particularly when it comes to selling to enterprise companies.
- Decision-making is rarely down to one individual. When it comes to enterprise companies, large purchases may require sign-off from multiple people or even a committee.
- Return on investment (ROI) needs to be demonstrated. Because the effects of implementing a new product or service are far-reaching (e.g., multiple departments and even locations), ROI in the form of raw numbers (and not just anecdotal evidence) must be provided.
So what then?
In cases where you’re selling to enterprise companies, you might instead want to take the MEDDIC approach, which leads with Metrics.
In other words, how much money your product or service will make your client.
It also requires a Champion, who’ll be your main point of contact, and who will go back to their own team to “sell” them on your product or service.
Don’t be a chump; be a CHAMP
Like acronyms, there’s another thing many salespeople love: Friendly competition.
Being the champion (a.k.a. winning) earns you the respect of your peers and boss. You can reap the rewards of a job well done—whether symbolic (e.g. the sales rep of the month desk trophy) or monetary (sales bonuses and commissions).
The CHAMP sales framework is a powerful tool in your sales arsenal—not only because it works, but also because the name is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy:
- Step 1: Use the CHAMP framework.
- Step 2: Become a CHAMP.
With CHAMP everyone is a champion, including your client. Rather than focusing on hitting quotas, you’re zeroed in on solving their problems. And that, friends, is what we can call a win-win.