Imagine going on a sales call and making a pitch that has your listener convinced they need your product. But once you get down to finalizing the sale, they inform you, “We don’t have a budget for it right now.”
Do you give up?
You could… if you weren’t using the FAINT sales framework.
Before we explain how you would handle this situation with the FAINT framework, let’s break down what would happen if you didn’t (a.k.a. said “ok” and hung up the phone, never to speak to or hear from that lead ever again).
- First off, you just spent a lot of time and effort on a lead that was apparently not ready to convert at the moment.
- Secondly, by disqualifying the lead entirely, you’ve also likely missed out on any future opportunities with that person—and their company.
The fact is, just because a company doesn't have a budget for your solution, doesn’t mean they don’t have the funds for it.
Mike Shultz, President at Rain Group, offered the perfect solution to this predicament by introducing a sales qualification framework designed to help salespeople sell in situations where prospects don’t have set budgets. He called it “FAINT.”
Translation: If you’ve got money and the power to make decisions, have we got a solution for you!
FAINT vs. BANT:
The scenario above highlighted just one of the potential problems that come with old-school sales frameworks—like BANT (the traditional sales framework).
BANT stands for (in order of importance) “Budget,” “Authority,” “Need,” and “Timing.”
FAINT, on the other hand, starts with "Funds," then "Authority," "Interest," "Need," and "Timing."
Seeing some key differences already?
While BANT focuses on a prospect’s budget, FAINT looks at their overall cash flow. Can this prospect afford your product?
Think of it this way: companies with budgets set aside for your product are the only ones who have already identified a problem and are actively seeking a solution for it.
But sometimes, companies don’t even realize they have a problem or that they could be operating in a better way (with the help of your product) and therefore no budget has been allocated—yet.
With the BANT framework, the latter group of companies would automatically be disqualified as viable opportunities (even if the product would genuinely help them and they’re loaded.) FAINT doesn’t dismiss them quite so easily.
In the modern market where thousands of new startups are appearing daily, a qualification framework like BANT (which requires them to have a budget and a need already defined) just doesn't work.
Sales qualification frameworks today (like FAINT) are designed under the presumption that a prospect with decision-making abilities always has a budget. Once your prospect is convinced and emotionally invested in your product, they’ll find the funds to complete the purchase—some way, somehow.
Plus, with FAINT, you don’t need to ask prospects the awkward “what’s your budget?” question as often, which is always a nice way to not kill the mood.
Seal the deal.
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How to use the FAINT framework:
Prospects who don’t have a predefined budget for a solution will need to be handled differently than prospects who do. That’s what each of the letters in “FAINT” is here to help us out with.
Let’s go over each letter here and how they work.
F = Funds
What it means: Before you invest time and energy into a lead, you need to make sure they have the money to buy your product.
Budget and financial capability are two separate things. It's important to understand the distinction between the two before qualifying a lead.
Like we mentioned earlier, a lot of organizations might not have a formal budget set aside for every purpose, but they would still be financially able to complete a purchase.
What you have to do: Find out if the prospect has the money to consider buying your solution.
How to do it: Here are a few ways to find out if a company has the money:
- If it’s a public company, they’ll have their financials published online (all publicly traded U.S. companies are legally required to file quarterly, annual, 10-Q, and 10-K reports). You can look them up here.
- If it’s a private company, do some Googling and see if they’ve put out any press releases or blog posts recently announcing a significant milestone (like “we just reached $1M in sales!”).
- Connect with the decision-maker on LinkedIn, introduce yourself and what your company does, and just ask them!
Once you know this prospect has purchasing power, you can move on to the next criterion in the FAINT framework.
A = Authority
What it means: One of the most important aspects of a sales pitch is to have a conversation with a person of authority.
If the person you’re pitching to doesn’t have the decision-making power to purchase your product, that’s still okay. Just because you aren’t connected with the decision-maker from the get-go doesn’t mean you should disqualify the lead altogether. Instead, ask the lead (politely) to connect you with the decision-maker.
What you have to do: Find out if the prospect is the decision-maker.
How to do it: A bit of detective work on a company’s website and LinkedIn will help you find out who the decision-maker is. Once you’ve found them, reach out.
This is sometimes easier than others. For example, role titles might not be super clear (“so… it says here you’re the ‘Director of Possibilities?’”) or you might find multiple people with similar-sounding titles (this is especially common in larger organizations).
If this is the case, that's okay—shoot your shot with one of the people who sound like they could be the decision-maker. Strike a conversation with them (maybe a LinkedIn message or email) and if they seem interested, offer to set up a meeting and include the following in your message:
“Is there anyone else on your team that would have a say in this or that you think we should include? I’ll add them to our meeting as well.”
This way, even if they’re not the decision-maker (or they’re one of a few), they’ll still connect you with the right people.
I = Interest
What it is: Generating the right interest in the minds of your prospects can make or break your sales process.
The prospect needs to understand the importance of the solution you’re offering in terms of what it can do for their company—and what their company stands to lose if they decide not to purchase it.
What you have to do: Get the prospect genuinely interested in the solution you’re offering.
How to do it: For starters, you'll need to gain your prospect’s trust and interest by explaining your product and its impact.
Keep in mind that there are other competitors in the market offering solutions like yours. So, you also need to be prepared to demonstrate why your product is the best choice.
You can also add on to your sales pitch by explaining how damaging it could be for your prospect to continue on without incorporating your solution. Ignorance isn’t bliss!
N = Need
What it is: Need is one qualification criterion that has stayed constant throughout the evolution of sales qualification frameworks.
You might think “need” should come before “interest,” but the opposite is what makes the FAINT framework unique.
FAINT runs on the belief that needs shouldn’t be mentioned until interest in the product has been generated. Once you’ve created interest in the prospect, elaborating on their need is like adding icing to an already delicious cake.
What you need to do: Position your product as a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have.
How to do it: To find out how your product can meet a company’s needs, ask the decision-maker what their goals are. Use these goals to find the underlying need.
For example, if they tell you their goal is to grow their customer base, the need here would be a more effective way to attract the right customers to buy their product or service.
Or, another example; if they tell you their goal is employee retention, the need would be to increase the average span of employment and reduce the cost of replacing staff members.
Then the question is: can your product help solve these needs? Explain how to your prospect.
T = Timing
What it is: The last element of FAINT focuses on establishing a timeline for your prospect and their intent to purchase.
Developing a timeframe means figuring out how long it would take for your prospect to complete the purchase.
What you have to do: See if the prospect is willing to settle on a timeline or if they don’t plan on closing the deal anytime soon.
How to do it: Ask your prospect if they’re ready to pull the trigger on buying your solution and if yes, when.
For example, if the prospect wants your solution in two weeks, you’ll know that your product is a top priority for their organization. In this case, continue to nurture and engage the prospect and work towards finalizing the conversion.
On the other hand, if your prospect doesn’t indicate an urgent need for your solution or they’re unable (or unwilling) to define a timeline, it’s safe to go ahead and disqualify them now. You don’t want to chase after a prospect who’s dead-set against committing.
Does FAINT sound like it’s for you?
Overall, FAINT offers a more streamlined and all-encompassing sales framework than traditional methods, making sure your time and resources are used effectively and that the leads you follow provide a positive return.
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