From this article, you'll learn what GPCTBA means, how it differs from BANT methodology, and how you can use this strangely named method as a lead-qualifying tool.
Last time we talked about using the BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline) method to learn more about your prospective clients during the first meeting with them. Virtually everyone who works in sales or planning knows the BANT method almost like a mantra, and it used to do a good job. Through a set of simple questions, you could quickly find out what your clients wanted, suggest the best solution to their problem, and estimate their budget. The client was completely reliant on you and your knowledge.
Now the situation has got slightly more complicated, though. Your prospective clients have access to far, far more information than ever before, and as a result, they also know much more about what they need and what options they have at their disposal. It’s actually quite likely they have already done some research of their own about your company and come to you with potential solutions to their problem. So what they are looking for isn’t just an interview session during which you suggest to them a product or service - they want you to listen to them, understand their goals, and help them solve an issue they currently have. And BANT might not exactly be helpful with that, at least not in a customer-centric world.
Here’s where a modified version of the BANT methodology, called GPCTBA (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, and Authority), comes in.
What is it though, and how is it different from BANT? And most importantly, how can you use this perhaps-slightly-odd-sounding method when qualifying your software development clients? Read on to find out!
What is GPCTBA?
We live in a customer-centric world: for all businesses, regardless of the industries they operate in, customers and their needs should be their top priority. But BANT as a qualification method can only give you surface information and not what exactly you need to know at a given moment.
That’s why Hubspot came up with the new GPCTBA qualification method, through which you can learn more about a client’s goals and the challenges they face. You can think of this method as a way of measuring the gap between where a business is currently and where it wants to be.
The GPCTBA method is made of six parts:
G - Goals
P - Plans
C - Challenges
T - Timeline
The most important change here is switching the focus from your own company’s to your client’s needs. You aren’t gathering data about whether or not a client is a good fit for your company by questioning them about their budget, the people who will make the final decisions, and only later about their expectations. Instead, you are starting with their expectations, plans, and pain points as the main reasons why they decided to reach out to you - their budget and decision-makers can be discussed later. Basically, this method can help you understand what your customers are aiming for if you have the right skills to help them achieve their goals.
Interested? Then let’s look in detail at the component parts of this method.
With BANT, you would start by asking your prospects about their budget. But with the GPCTBA method, you instead begin the discussion by asking why the client decided to reach out to you. This is because your potential customers will have most likely researched their goals before getting in touch with you, and will know (more or less) what they are looking for.
But before you can suggest something to them, you need to understand what exactly they are trying to achieve and what the main purpose of their project is - why do they need a new mobile app or custom software in the first place? Plus, starting the conversation from their goals rather than from financial matters can make it much easier to keep the conversation going - it will surely be more pleasant for your clients to talk about their goals for the future than about their budget!
Some questions you can ask your clients about their goals are:
• What are the main goals for your business?
• What is your top priority for this year?
• How could this product help you achieve your goals?
• Is the solution meant to help you with any other company goals?
After you have already discussed their goals with your future clients, asking about their plans for the future will come naturally. You want to know whether they have already prepared a plan on how they will reach their goals or if they rather need your help with creating one.
If they have already started working on a plan, you should ask them what actions they have already taken and how far they have got. The answers would give you an insight into what you could suggest in order to help them achieve their goals faster. This would be a good moment to ask questions such as:
• How do you plan to achieve the aforementioned goals? Have you already come up with an action strategy?
• Do you think the project will go smoothly, or do you expect to encounter some obstacles along the way?
• Do you have enough resources available to start the project?
• Have you tried to achieve these goals before? What was the result?
• Do you have a backup plan in case the current one doesn’t go as expected?
Once you start poking around, your client might admit that they aren’t exactly sure if their plan will succeed or that there are some parts of the strategy they haven’t thought about in detail. This would be a good time to suggest a better or easier way to complete the tasks outlined in the plan or some ideas about how they could avoid issues they have faced before.
Here comes the most important (and maybe trickiest) part - discussing the problems or challenges that your clients have and determining whether or not your product or service can help them solve them. The challenge might be that there’s a visible obstacle that prevents them from progressing with their plan (such as lack of specific technologies) or an internal problem that slows them down (like a software platform that no longer meets their requirements).
Whatever it is, the company came to you and so you should try to help them overcome it. But the hard part is getting the clients to admit they are stuck and that their current way of doing things just isn’t cutting it anymore, as many people will try to defend their methods. You can try to find out more about their internal challenges by asking questions such as:
• What are the biggest challenges your business has faced in the past? Were they solved or do you still have any of those problems?
• What hurdles do you think your company might come across while trying to achieve your business goals?
• Are those problems or challenges mentioned in your plan?
• How could our solution help you overcome those problems?
What’s most important here is that by discussing the problems and challenges with your clients, you can determine whether or not your product or service can actually help with their situation. If you don’t have the required knowledge or technology, or the solution imagined by the clients won’t help solve their issues, admitting this will save both your and your client’s time.
The following steps are the same as for BANT - discussing how the company wants to achieve their goals, estimating the budget, and specifying who will be responsible for decision-making. But just like with BANT, talking with prospective clients about the timeframe might also be a bit tricky with the GPCTBA method. This is because your clients may either not have a specific time frame in which they want to achieve their goals (suggesting they might not be a priority), or conversely they will specify a very tight schedule with almost no room for delays. To gauge the situation, you can ask questions such as:
• How quickly do you want to achieve your goals?
• Are they a priority, or do you have more important goals?
• Do you have the time and resources to start working on the plan now?
5. Budget and Authority
Now that you have discussed the client’s goals, plans, and challenges with and deemed that you and your solution can help them achieve their goals, it’s finally the time to talk about the project’s funding and who will be responsible for making the final decisions. Why do this so late on?
Now that you have plenty of information about the client and their project, it will be much easier for you to estimate the required budget, the ROI of the project, and the resources you will need to complete it successfully. It would also be a good idea to ask the client if they have invested money in a similar solution to yours before and if so what the outcome was.
With all the information you have already gathered, you can also go into more detail when it comes to who will be the primary decision-maker(s) in the company and how they expect the cooperation to go.
Nowadays software development clients can find a vast amount of information about whatever challenges or issues they have, along with dozens of options on how to solve them - so it might feel like they actually know more than you do. But by simply switching the focus to their goals and plans for the future, as well as lending a hand to overcome the obstacles they are facing and giving them a tailored solution in a timely manner, persuading them to pick your company may become a little easier - and might even convince them to start a long-term cooperation.