The Full Guide to NEAT Selling
NEAT Selling was created as an alternative to “classic” qualification methodologies like BANT and ANUM, which were designed to support the linear sales processes of a bygone era.
NEAT, by contrast, was built for the complex, non-linear sales process that defines today’s B2B landscape.
Like many methodologies, NEAT Selling aims to prevent sales professionals from wasting their time on poor-fit deals.
It’s also a framework for building trust with buyers and having valuable conversations throughout the entire sales process — from the initial stages of prospecting to the close and beyond.
In this guide, we’ll explain what NEAT Selling is, who it’s for, and how to get the most out of this methodology.
What is NEAT Selling?
NEAT Selling is a sales methodology developed by The Harris Consulting Group. The letters in NEAT stand for:
- Economic impact
- Access to authority
It’s often described as a lead qualification methodology, but that designation feels much too narrow. The NEAT selling process is really about building trust by homing in on a prospect’s most pressing pain points or needs and responding with valuable insights, empathy, and high-impact solutions.
NEAT uses open-ended questions and active listening to identify a prospect's needs and present solutions that directly solve pain points and unlock new opportunities.
BANT + ANUM = NEAT
Sales qualification methodologies like BANT, ANUM, and AN have been around forever — in large part because they’re effective. Or, at least they were.
These methodologies provide a systematic framework for qualifying leads, uncovering pain points, and presenting perfect-fit solutions that close deals and mark the beginning of a long-term relationship.
Now, those methodologies do still offer some value, but they’re too rigid and linear for today's buying cycle. For example, if you have multiple decision-makers entering the process at different points in the buyer’s journey and doubling back several times to do more research, it becomes really difficult for sellers to follow a framework where stages must be completed in sequential order.
The NEAT selling methodology keeps the good parts of BANT and ANUM but reimagines and expands on those concepts, creating a flexible, non-linear framework aligned with the modern sales process.
Key Components of NEAT Selling
Each letter in the NEAT acronym represents one of four central tenets that, together, help you qualify high-value leads, put together an effective sales pitch, and move prospects through the sales process.
You have two main objectives here.
First, you’ll need to determine whether the prospect can benefit from your solution, and, if not, disqualify and move on.
From there, your goal becomes getting the prospect to paint a clear picture of their needs, pain points, and goals. Harris Consulting Group emphasizes that understanding needs requires sellers to really focus on digging beneath the surface to find the underlying pain prospects are experiencing.
2. Economic impact
Once you’ve identified the prospect’s needs, the next move is quantifying their pain points and problems and connecting them back to the bottom line.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to ask questions that uncover the actual costs of the prospect’s current processes and solutions.
With that information, you can then ask deeper questions about potential improvements to gauge the actual economic impact of implementing your solution.
3. Access to authority
Here, your goal is to find out which decision-makers are involved in the buying process and what kind of authority they have over the purchase.
Initially, it’s about figuring out if you’re speaking with people who can connect you with the person with the final say over whether this deal can happen or not.
You’re trying to determine how much influence each person has over other stakeholders, and who the internal “champions” and “blockers” are.
You’ll also need to figure out what kind of timeline the prospect is working with.
What happens if they don’t meet that deadline? Timeline questions also help you gauge urgency and can help you prioritize opportunities where decision-makers are looking to move quickly.
Alternatively, you might come up with a plan for nurturing prospects operating on longer timelines — that way, when it’s time to take action, your company is the first one that comes to mind.
Who should use NEAT Selling?
NEAT Selling works best for B2B selling, where long sales cycles and big-ticket sales are the norm.
This framework centers on relationship-building through smart questions and active listening. Every sales rep can benefit from NEAT’s core tenets — it’s just that this methodology takes a significant amount of time and research, so the ROI on smaller deals with quick turnarounds just isn’t there.
How to get the most out of NEAT Selling
Below, we’ve outlined a few tips for successfully incorporating this sales technique into your existing strategy:
1. Ask open-ended questions
For example, you might ask the buyer how they plan to use your product or why they need to meet a certain deadline. Their response might reveal there’s a big milestone coming up – like an acquisition or a product launch – and they need to get ready to merge teams or ramp up production. From there, you might ask about the consequences of failing to meet that deadline.
Make sure you’re asking one question at a time and give the prospect enough space to answer that question.
2. Listen to prospect responses
Done right, NEAT Selling brings empathy and humanity to the sales qualification process — which, too often, reduces prospects to a list of questions and criteria.
The methodology is more about finding the right answer than asking a specific set of questions.
So, the most important thing sellers should do is work on their active listening skills, ask good follow-up questions, and use prospect responses to identify what information they’ll need to learn to move the deal forward.
3. Make prospects think about the impact of their action (or inaction)
Compared to, say, BANT, NEAT is uniquely suited to the tailored communications that today’s buyers expect.
However, sellers must be able to adapt conversations to each individual buyer and create a distinct emotional experience for each stakeholder.
It’s not about rattling off specs and features; it’s about demonstrating tangible benefits in context of the concerns and priorities of each stakeholder and where they are in the sales process.
This requires sellers to be empathetic to the buyer’s situation and develop a real understanding of their mindset so they can frame insights and solutions in a way that resonates with their point of view.
Detailed buyer personas and ICPs, combined with insights you’ve gathered during prior conversations and account research, should be used to inform your approach.
NEAT Selling example questions
Each stage of the NEAT methodology focuses on gathering specific details that will help you move the deal forward.
Below, we’ve included a few examples of what you might ask during each stage, based on where things stand with the prospect at any given point in the process.
- What is the biggest challenge you’re facing today?
- What barriers are preventing you from solving X problem?
- What happens if you don’t solve X problem?
2. Economic impact
- What is the economic impact of X problem?
- Do you currently have a budget allocated for a solution?
3. Access to authority
- Is there anyone else in your company that needs to be included in this discussion?
- How do you reach them?
- Who makes the final decision?
- What is your deadline for getting this problem solved?
- What happens if you don’t solve the problem within X weeks/months/years?
Get the complete list of NEAT selling questions to add to your playbook, share with reps, or combine with questions from other favorite methodologies:
Operationalize NEAT Selling with Weflow
Operationalizing sales methodologies like NEAT can be hard. Sales reps won’t follow the methodology consistently, and managers won’t enforce it.
This will result in sales teams missing the data that’s needed to successfully manage the success criteria of each opportunity.
Weflow offers note templates that can help streamline the NEAT qualification process and help with sales methodology training. It only takes seconds to create a note template that can be reused by your entire sales team.
Weflow also enables RevOps to set up central pipeline views and field templates to focus reps on fields that need to be populated at each stage of the sales process.
Ready to implement NEAT selling? Get started with Weflow today.
While NEAT certainly checks all the required boxes of a good qualification framework, it’s better to think of it as a philosophy of sorts for driving all revenue-centric conversations.
Implemented correctly, NEAT allows sellers to identify buyer requirements and position solutions based on how they respond to questions. But ultimately, success is driven by empathy, adaptability, and a focus on helping people solve problems.
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