N.E.A.T. Selling™: a new era sales qualification method

NEAT Selling™ method builds on lessons we have learned from earlier processes and methodologies. It encourages you to be more active and emotional in your communication with the prospect and to adapt to the modern customer.

NEAT Selling™: what does it mean and how is it different?

NEAT™ is an acronym for : Need, Economic impact, Access to authority and Timeline, in a non chronological order. 

NEAT Selling™ is an evolved methodology from BANT, ANUM and AN. 

The NEAT™ qualification methodology, developed by Richard Harris, was designed to replace the standbys processes with a new era methodology.

NEAT™ focuses on guiding the sales professionals on finding the deeper needs of prospects' challenges.

Breaking down the NEAT™ philosophy 

Yes, NEAT™ is sometimes considered as a philosophy. It is a way of getting to know and qualifying your prospect on a more profound level by studying the elements of NEAT™.  

Need

The need is typically represented by focusing on the specific solution and the benefits it could deliver. As a sales rep is often focused on the surface pain of the prospect, he/she often forgets the core pains.

The "need" in this selling methodology is understanding why the pain is important for the end person and the organisation, and what deeper issues it is causing. 

By focusing on the core pain points, the sales managers can successfully position the product/service as a solution to prospects pain points.

This can be reached by more actively listening to what the prospect has to say. By that you can earn the right to ask questions and get the access to important information.

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Questions to ask:

  • How is the prospect solving the problem today compared to my proposed solution? 
  • Who is affected by the problem? Are their several departments affected? 
  • What is/are the real need for the problem? 

Economic impact

Having an economic impact is no longer proving your ROI of your solution to the prospect. 

The sales professionals focus should be on making the client seeing the opportunities, the economic impact now versus the possibility of making a change by implementation of your solution to their problems. 

In today's Saas world the concept of a 'budget' for the solution is not even possible.

Example: Your client is struggling with the content management and losing website visitors, where your find out that it is due poorly defined personas and bad targeting. Your solution of analysing the personas and adjusting the criterias is a potential increase of new visitors but also sales for your customer.  

Make your solutions visual!

Questions to ask:

  • What is the economic impact of the problem versus the financial opportunity of the solution? 
  • What are the potential financial chain reactions on my solutions?

Access to authority

The access to authority is not as obvious and the process can take time. 

The role of the sales reps is to determine that one/ones which can give you the access. This could be one or several persons, from one or several departments, a decision maker or an end user.

Whoever it is, you need to build a consensus to get that contract and to not delay the sales process. 

This can be done by researching and understanding who has the authority to sign off on the deal and how relationships work in your prospects organisation.

For example, you can do it by account mapping or making a plan of actions to get a more accessible member of the organization to one with greater authority.

Questions to ask: 

  • Who has authority? How can you reach that person?
  • Who is making the financial decision? 

Timeline

So, this is where you can get it wrong. 

A timeline in a sales cycle is made to fix the time and place of an event, a deadline or a decision making moment. 

It is not really just a date in your calendar. If your timeline doesn't have a negative consequence of missing it, it is not a timeline and needs to be reviewed and modified. 

A good timeline will lead your prospect to make the next step and move the sales process forward.

A proactive timeline can help you to shorten the sales cycle and to help you in better forecasting. 

Questions to ask:

  • What happens if the timeline is not reached? 

Why and how to use NEAT™ methodology?  

The modern customer wants you to embrace the problematic and to put a pulse on the conversation. He/she wants you to ask follow up questions that confirms your listening, understanding and caring. 

Previous models are more narrowed, NEAT Selling™ is rather more opportunistic. 

The new way of prospecting and selling is to create a long term customer relationship. 

Sales is what is keeping the business going. However, NEAT™ encourages you to guide the customer, to provide a solid service and acquire a deeper understanding of problems and solutions in the business. 

This will in return strengthen your branding on the market, which today could be even more valuable than a single sale. 

For more about NEAT methodology and its practices, we recommend the podcast N.E.A.T Selling with Richard Harris and Kevin Dorsey.

FAQ:

What is N.E.A.T. Selling?

NEAT Selling is a sales qualification methodology, established by Richard Harris, that consists of 4 elements: Need, Economic impact, Access to authority and Timeline.

NEAT encourages listening to what your prospect has to say and guides you on winning the prospects' trust in the sales process.

How can I use N.E.A.T. Selling?

Firstly, your need to understand the concept of NEAT. By understanding the methodology, you will be able to formulate the right questions to ask to get to know your prospect and its needs. You should be empathic and opportunistic in your communication with the client.

Remember, you have to earn the right to ask questions to get the access to important information.

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